One might expect, then, that this is the big flaw that Micky learns to overcome, but that’s not really the case: he remains relatively passive right through the end, except for one key moment.
Micky enters the final quarter of the movie facing a problem: he has two groups of people that love him and want the best for him, but neither group can give him everything he needs, and they hate each other’s guts. Even now, however, he does not to take control of his own life and start making his own decisions. Instead, he breaks out of his passivity just long enough to stand up to them all and insist on having them both in his corner…then he does nothing to make that happen!
Of course, passive heroes are supposed to be the third rail of writing: instant death upon contact. So why don’t we get overly frustrated with Micky? Two reasons...
- For one thing, Micky has the most likable type of passivity: He’s hard-working but conflict-averse. He just wants everybody to be happy. This is clearly a flaw, but it’s one that’s hard to condemn.
- The most prominent people on each side, Dicky and Charlene, are so compelling and likeable that they almost qualify as co-heroes along with Micky, so when we get frustrated with Micky we can root for them instead. Ultimately, there’s a reason that everybody but Wahlberg got Oscars (or lost out to each other): His performance is just as masterful, but he humbly lets the other actors steal every scene, content to be the eye of the hurricane.