12 Best Movies About Fatherhood

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 17, 2011 · 274 comments

in Fatherhood, Relationships & Family

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A man’s relationship with his father is one of the most important relationships in his life. Dad is supposed to teach us the manly arts, to always be there as lifelong mentors who lovingly guide us into manhood. At least that’s what every boy hopes for. Of course in real life the relationship between father and son is rarely so simple. A son yearns for the love and respect of his dad and doesn’t always get it. Or he worships his father, only to find out later he wasn’t such a good guy. Or his dad is indeed the real deal, but he exits his son’s life too soon.

It’s no wonder that a relationship so fraught with hope and yearning, drama and resentment, joy and regret has often translated into cinematic gold. Men don’t typically cry at movies, but when we do, nine times out of ten the scene involves a father and his kids. Father-themed flicks are guaranteed to make us laugh, get misty-eyed, and feel a little introspective about our own dads, and if we have kids ourselves, how we measure up as fathers.

Father’s Day is this Sunday, so we thought it would be appropriate to highlight some of the very best movies about fatherhood that the world of cinema has to offer.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch is the man. Pillar of integrity, fighter of racial injustice, humble sharpshooter, and, of course, world’s greatest dad. As a widower he could have shipped his kids off to a relative, but he was absolutely devoted to them. He was kind, protective, and incredibly patient with his two kids, Jem and Scout. And most importantly, he taught his children by example. I find the relationship between Atticus and his daughter to be particularly endearing. If I ever have a daughter, I hope my relationship with her can be like the one Atticus had with his little girl. No wonder the American Film Institute called Atticus the “greatest movie hero of the 20th century.”

Of course you can’t top the book itself, but the film version measures up pretty well. Gregory Peck was given some very large shoes to fill, and he did so admirably.

Big Fish

Big Fish is a weird movie. Weird in a good way, though. It was directed by Tim Burton, hence the weirdness. Big Fish focuses on the strained relationship between a father and son–Ed and Will Bloom. Ed is a man who loves to tell (possibly fictitious) stories about his past. Ed’s son, Will, thinks his dad is full of it and can’t stand his tall tales. Will feels he cannot trust his father and eventually stops talking to him for several years. But when Will finds out his dad is dying, he returns home to begin a journey that will lead him to learn who is father really is, a process that allows him to come to peace with his dad.

The end of Big Fish is awesome. I won’t spoil it for you. Watch it.

The Godfather

At its core, The Godfather is about one man’s struggle to accept and eventually live up to the legacy his father has left him (even if that legacy isn’t the most noble and honorable one). You can gleam a lot of great insights about fatherhood from watching the entire trilogy. My favorite comes from Don Corleone: “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”

Be a man. Spend some time with those kiddos. And don’t forget the cannoli.

Field of Dreams

To what lengths would a man go for a chance at reconciliation? If it’s for your (dead) father, most of us would do anything. As a young man, Ray Kinsella had a strained relationship with his dad and had once refused to play catch with him, a decision he has regretted ever since. Now grown up, with his father passed away, Ray has become an Iowa farmer. A voice tells him, “If you build it, he will come,” and Ray obeys by building a baseball diamond in his cornfield. The voice continues to guide Ray, and after a series of mysterious and supernatural events, he is able to make amends by playing a simple game of catch with his dead father. Man. That catch scene gets me every time.

Father of the Bride

It’s the moment any man with a daughter looks forward to with both happiness and sadness: his little girl’s wedding. You’ve probably seen the 1991 re-make of Father of the Bride with Steve Martin. Sure, it’s funny, but it’s nowhere near as good as the 1950 original starring Spencer Tracy and a young and beautiful Elizabeth Taylor. At least, I don’t think so. There’s nothing profound or deep about this film. It’s just a fun, family comedy about the relationship between a man and his daughter. Spencer Tracy rocks it in this movie. One of his best performances.

Road to Perdition

As we mentioned in the introduction, sometimes the relationship between father and son can be pretty complicated. That complexity is at the root of the dark, Depression-era gangster film, Road to Perdition. Every boy wants to grow up to be like his dad, but what if your dad isn’t such a good guy? Tom Hanks plays mob bodyguard and hitman, Michael Sullivan, who must protect his son from his former boss (with whom he had his own almost father/son relationship) and his boss’ son, who has killed the rest of Sullivan’s family. On a mission of revenge, Sullivan draws his son into a life of crime, but hopes he will take a different path in life. It’s a bloody, complicated, and father/son relationship-packed movie; as Hanks puts it, “If you’re a man, and you’ve got offspring…emotionally, it’s devastating.”

The Pursuit of Happyness

An uplifting film based on the true story of now multi-millionaire Chris Gardner’s one-year struggle with homelessness while raising his son by himself and working to land a full-time job. The Pursuit of Happyness shows the lengths a father will go for his children. What makes this movie even more emotionally captivating is that Chris Gardner and his son, little Chris, are played by real-life father and son, Will and Jaden Smith.

Parenthood

If you’re a fan of the ABC television comedy, Parenthood, then watch the movie that inspired the show. Like the show, Parenthood the movie focuses on different branch-offs of the same family. And like the show, the movie does a good job showcasing the (often humorous) struggles of being a parent in our crazy modern world. While it’s an ensemble film, Steve Martin’s character Gil Buckman takes center stage. Gil’s a father who’s driven to be the best dad he can be because of his dissatisfaction with his own childhood. Gil’s earnestness to be a good dad often crosses the line into neuroticism, but during the course of the film he learns to mellow out.

I really like this film (and the show). Unlike a lot of comedies built on outrageous setups and low-brow gags, Parenthood tries to stay as true to real life as possible. When you watch it, you laugh because you can relate with the characters and their problems.

Boyz ‘N the Hood

Laurence Fishburne plays Furious Styles (what an awesome name), a hard-nosed father trying to raise his rebellious son, Tre, on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Furious gives his son plenty of tough love but also provides him a good example of what it means to be a father, and more importantly, a good man. Boyz ‘N the Hood teaches us that there’s nothing like the influence of a father to mold a boy into a man who does the right thing.

Finding Nemo

A movie about fatherhood that you can watch with your kids. Marlin’s a widower father who loses his wife and 400 of his children (he’s a fish) in a vicious barracuda attack. His only child to survive is Nemo, a headstrong little clown fish who’s frustrated by his father’s neurotic over-protectiveness. Despite Marlin’s best efforts to look out for Nemo, he gets lost and the rest of the movie is dedicated to, well, finding Nemo. Marlin’s love for his son transcends species. Even us human dads can relate to this computer-animated fish.

Note: Esquire recently published a great article about John Lasseter, the head of Pixar, that illuminates why Pixar’s movies tend to focus on the relationship between father and son (Lasseter has five boys himself). Check it out.

Paper Moon

Starring real-life dad and daughter, Ryan and Tatum O’Neil, Paper Moon follows Moses and Addie Pray, a father-daughter duo who grift in Depression-Era Kansas. Moses isn’t really an ideal father-figure. He scams old widows out of money by pretending to be a Bible salesman who recently sold their deceased husband an expensive, personalized Bible. But the daddy-daughter relationship between Moses and Addie is awfully charming. Paper Moon is a fun, comedy-filled movie that you can watch with your own little partner-in-crime.

My Life

When I do these “Best of” posts, I usually don’t put the films or books in any particular order, but in this case I saved the best for last.  My Life is perhaps the best and most underrated movie about fatherhood ever made. Michael Keaton plays Bob Ivanovich, a man who discovers that he has terminal cancer soon after his wife gets pregnant. Knowing he won’t be around to raise his little boy, Bob makes home movies of himself that his son can watch as he grows up. In some of the videos, Bob reads bedtime stories and in others, which will be shown when his son is older, Bob teaches important man skills like how to shave and how to shake hands. As Bob approaches his death, he also begins to reconcile with his own father, with whom he has had a strained relationship.

Be warned, this movie is a tear-jerker. It’s Beaches for men. It’s the first movie I ever saw make my dad cry, and he wasn’t an emotional guy when I was growing up. I honestly get all teary-eyed just thinking about Bob’s little boy watching his dead father read him a bedtime story.

Ever since Gus came into my life, I keep thinking about this movie. What lessons would I impart to my boy from beyond the grave? And then I start thinking about how sad I’d be knowing that I’d miss out on big events in his life: his first day at school, his first shave, his first date, etc. Makes me want to treasure my moments with him even more. Man, I’m getting all misty eyed… Excuse me…

OK, now it’s your turn. You know, the point where you leave a comment saying, “I can’t believe you left out  ____________!” What are your favorite movies about fatherhood? Share them with us in the comments.

{ 274 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Paul June 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm

The Road, hands down. Greatest book I have every read, well done film version.

“If he is not the word of God, then God never spoke.”

102 Jim g June 18, 2011 at 1:20 pm

The Fantastic Mr Fox. The movie and the book.

103 James June 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm
104 ken June 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Courageous will be out Sept 30th might as well add it to your list now.

105 Vic June 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

The Champ (1979) would be another movie I would add to Fatherhood movie list -

106 Heath June 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

A Bronx Tale. The star of the movie “C” (though now incarcerated in real life) has two father figures who educate him on the Art of Manliness. Hard-working, blue collar, bus driver Dad, Robert DeNiro and feared local Mob boss, Chaz Palminteri provide a yin-yang ideal of opposite worlds. Both stories intertwine as C enters manhood and starts having to choose between the daily 9 to 5 grind of an honest living vs. the appeal of easy money and fast paced life on the streets. Set in the 1950′s, a great soundtrack provides an excellent background to this gritty and thought provoking film. Is the working man a sucker? What’s more important, to be feared or respected? Most people I know have never heard of this incredible film. Please do yourself a favor and check out this gem.

107 Aubrey June 18, 2011 at 2:17 pm

How about Kramer vs Kramer or The Road?

108 Lydell June 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Star Wars. I am your father!

109 Mike D June 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I’d have to say that I really loved ‘Hook.’ Robin Williams is the most annoying dude ever but I loved that film.

110 robert June 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm

3:10 to Yuma and The Road. Also The Sum of Us could be considered.

111 Tom Gunn June 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

112 Tom Cox June 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Amen on Frequency, plus True Grit, in which a daughter honors her father’s memory by seeking justice for his murderer.

113 Brent June 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm

The Road was one of the most moving movies I’ve seen. Not only does the father give his life for his son, but the man who rescues him when the boy’s father dies gives you the feeling that he’s going to protect him and dote on him as much as he does his own son. The wife of the man who rescues the boy gives you the same feeling. This is a must see movie.

114 Simon June 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Road To Perdition is truly a wonderful movie about fatherhood. Many people just see a dark gangster movie. You have to sit down a really watch Road To Perdition to get the underlying message.

115 Francesco B June 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm

A Bronx tale, Caloigero, or “C” has two fathers, his actual father and his father of the streets. He struggles to hold on to them both as they bitterly hate eachother. His father tries to teach him the honest way of life working 8 hour days, while Sonny teaches him how to make a quick buck. Although, when Sonny dies he realizes how similar the two actually were.

116 Oolon Colluphid June 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Return of the Jedi, a son’s quest to redeem his fallen father.

If we’re allowed to include television, I nominate “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, especially the last season (forget the movie). On the side of the villains, there’s a son learning that he doesn’t have to please his father to be successful — but on the heroes’ side, there’s a beautiful relationship between two of the leads and their father, who is everything you’d want one to be.

117 Mick June 18, 2011 at 8:01 pm

The Shiralee (1987) was an Australian movie about an itinerant worker and his young daughter in the Great Depression. It’s an iconic movie about the Australian bush and will make even the toughest man cry.

118 John Splitwood June 18, 2011 at 8:01 pm

An old minor film called “Curly Sue”: a favorite of my wife.

119 Mark Plus June 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm

“Forbidden Planet.” Dr. Morbius sacrifices himself to save his daughter from his own Monster From the Id given horrific powers by the Krell Machine.

120 Simon June 18, 2011 at 8:29 pm

The Road. That’s what it’s all about it.

121 Beowulf87 June 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm

You forgot The Road!

And in some ways, Batman Begins is good too.

122 Tony June 18, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Legends of the Fall. Colonel Ludlow saving Tristan from being taken away and shot at the end is one of my favorite movie scenes. The Road should also be on this list.

123 Kevin June 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm

If it has not already been said yet, “Taken.”

124 T.L. June 19, 2011 at 1:57 am

Fireproof !!!!!

125 Alex June 19, 2011 at 4:20 am

This is a great list. BUT I CAN NOT believe you left you “THE BOYS ARE BACK”…. that has to be inthe top 3 fatherhood movies ever made…

126 David June 19, 2011 at 7:45 am

The Road is a tough movie to watch but a good one. I agree with Road to Perdition awesome movie. This sounds dumb but Mrs. Doubtfire? Dressing up like a woman and possibly getting jail time just to spend more time with your kids? How about the original Vacation especially when Griswold sits down with his broken down car and has a chat with his son giving him a beer. I also want to give a shout out to those who played father figure roles. Mr. Miyagi, Alfred from Batman series, Uncle Ben Parker, Will Freeman from About A Boy, Heck even Professor X.

127 Sean June 19, 2011 at 8:06 am

“Captains Courageous”

128 Jacob June 19, 2011 at 9:51 am

Secondhand Lions should be on the list….it’s about two men learning to be fathers and about how one can have an adventurous life and still be a father.

129 Patrick June 19, 2011 at 11:05 am

Films that I think are mentionable:

The Road
I Am Sam
Bicycle Thieves
Life is Beautiful
The Wrestler

130 Adam Selene June 19, 2011 at 11:57 am

1. The Natural – the famous line…”Sure, father’s make all the difference.” *
2. Falling Down *
3. Mrs. Doubtfire *
4. Armageddon
5. A Thousand Clowns
6. Forest Gump
7. Friendly Persuasion
8. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
9. It’s a Wonderful Life *
10. The Patriot *
11. Shenandoah *
12. Kramer vs. Kramer *

* these are definite the rest are probable inclusions in the list

Adam

131 rob June 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I love this website, and enjoy these lists, but to the people that comment… if you cannot summarize a movie without giving away the ending, don’t write anything at all. It’s a shame some people ruin movies for others when the whole point is to recommend people watch these movies.

132 Joseph Kraft June 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I second, Secondhand Lions.

133 C McIntire June 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Cinderella Man and Life is Beautiful. They are the two movies I think best capture what a real man/father is.

134 Christopher June 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I third Secondhand Lions. http://goo.gl/2tmYC It’s an inspiring story about manhood and you can’t beat the main cast of Haley Joel Osment, Robert Duvall and Michael Caine.

135 Jet June 19, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I also recommend ‘Life is Beautiful’

136 Chuck June 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm

October Sky

137 Jason Yohman June 19, 2011 at 9:06 pm

My wife and I tried to watch Paper Moon with our 5 and 13 year olds. Sadly, we had to turn it off just over half way through. There’s a subplot involving a man and woman being tricked into prostitution, and a bit of talk before hand about putting out for money. My wife and I intend on finishing the movie tonight, as it’s good so far, but we felt too uncomfortable to finish watching it with our children.

138 John June 19, 2011 at 9:06 pm

I must say Secondhand lions also. If you hav not seen it, you really should check it ou.

139 Jo June 19, 2011 at 9:25 pm

The War with Kevin Costner is a must too!

140 Tony June 20, 2011 at 12:13 am

Great list. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘Big Fish’, ‘Field of Dreams’, ‘Father of the Bride’ (the original, of course), and ‘Paper Moon’ immediatley popped into my head when I read the topic for this list.

Of the others that I thought of, ‘The Lion King’ is the only one I haven’t seen mentioned yet.

Love the site Brett and Kate.

141 Allen June 20, 2011 at 12:43 am

How about “The Yearling” and “Lil Britches”? And the French film “The Two of US” (altho’ the old man is not actually the boy’s father). Most powerful is “Life Is Beautiful” the Italian movie of a Jewish father who saves his son in a WWII concentration camp by treating the situation as a game.

142 Robbo June 20, 2011 at 1:02 am

“Frequency” is my favourite father – son movie. When I saw it on TV it seemed one of very very few with a healthy positive vibe. Also a great dramatic ending.

143 Gil June 20, 2011 at 1:18 am

Shame the real-life Happyness father wasn’t as wonderful as in the film:

http://www.cracked.com/article_16478_7-movies-based-true-story-that-are-complete-bullshit.html

144 Tim June 20, 2011 at 1:27 am

Has anyone mentioned “Life as a House”? Kevin Kline plays Hayden Christensen’s father, whose been diagnosed with terminal cancer and decides he has to make his relationship right with his estranged son.

145 yahya June 20, 2011 at 2:07 am

Frailty is the greatest and most tragic movie about fatherhood.

146 Riprake June 20, 2011 at 2:36 am

Here’s one I got for my father this year: Fatherland (1994) starring Rutger Hauer. It’s your one and only chance to root for a guy in an SS uniform who’s also the hero of this alternate-reality story and a good father to his son.

147 Antony June 20, 2011 at 3:27 am

I know they aren’t the Father’s but what about “Up” and “Princess Bride”? I love that line “As you wish.” Also “Shawshank Redemption” about real friendship, that movie gets me all the time. Still a very good list by the way!

148 Matthew W June 20, 2011 at 3:53 am

If we’re going the “surrogate father” route, I agree with those who said Up and Secondhand Lions.

149 jc Oso June 20, 2011 at 4:13 am

La Mission with Benjamin Bratt as a Latino this film really spoke to me about the tension between a young man and his father and what the man wants for his son and what the son wants for himself. Sometimes the two just don’t match.

Also the Kite Runner

150 Michael Lupia June 20, 2011 at 4:53 am

Although the movie is, at its core, a dark revenge flick, Horsemen (the Australian movie starring Peter Marshall, not the American one with Dennis Quaid) is really badass. Basically, a father finds out his daughter was recently killed in an adult snuff film, and chases down the guys involved. It’s super intense, bloody and violent, but the emotional impact of what a father would do to protect his child (or in this case, avenge her death) is riveting. I suggest it for those not too faint-hearted.

151 Michael Lupia June 20, 2011 at 4:55 am

@Tim: Life as a House is one of the few movies that jerked a few tears from me. Very powerful movie by Kevin Kline. Good one!

152 Steve June 20, 2011 at 7:42 am

Other suggestions:

Mr. Hobbes Takes a Vacation

Family Man

Life with Father

153 walter wrner June 20, 2011 at 8:22 am

Another Gregoy Peck movie, “The Yearling” best think about the movie Mr. Peck was young and looked very much the part

154 JP June 20, 2011 at 9:06 am

Legends of the Fall – hands down!

155 Jared June 20, 2011 at 9:47 am

The River Runs Through It

It really has more brother relationships with it (like Legends of the
Fall), but there are alot of good moments with the dad.

In particular, after Norman tells the dad that the bones in Paul’s hands were broken, the dad asks “which hand?” and Norman says “his right”, you see the dad throw an understated punch, showing he knows Paul went down fighting.

156 Joshua June 20, 2011 at 9:49 am

To add some foreign flavor… I really love the Academy Award nominated Twilight Samurai. It’s about a low rank widower samurai who struggles to provide for his elderly mother and two daughters. It’s a wonderful movie.

157 Luis June 20, 2011 at 9:57 am

* Life is Beautiful
* 3 Men and a Baby
* Saving Private Ryan
* Click
* White Nights

158 Dan V June 20, 2011 at 10:15 am

What about Coupe De Ville? That is a classic father movie!

159 Hayden Tompkins June 20, 2011 at 10:16 am

I have to strongly disagree with “Pursuit of Happyness”.

160 Hayden Tompkins June 20, 2011 at 10:17 am

Now that I’ve read the comments, yes yes YES to “Secondhand Lions”.

161 Frank June 20, 2011 at 10:21 am

Here’s my list:
Big Fish – Best movie ending EVER.
Life as a House –
Gangs of New York – the relationship between Bill and Amsterdam is priceless
Click – kind of corney, but still a great message.
Gone in 60 Seconds – the subpot of the older brother guiding his younger brother after loosing their father is really good.

162 Nate Q June 20, 2011 at 10:29 am

I was very impressed to find Big Fish here – a film I always loved for its father-son relationship, but didn’t get a ton of fans. But yeah I was shocked that Frequency wasn’t on this list, and stuff like Parenthood was. Oh well. Still a good list, sirs.

163 Ari J June 20, 2011 at 10:44 am

You forgot Nothing in Common. Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks showing a real father and son relationship with ups and downs…Amazing.

164 Steve W. June 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

I was very surprised not to find “Life Is Beautiful” on your list. A great movie of a father’s love and ultimate sacrifice for his son.

165 Adam June 20, 2011 at 11:37 am

You forgot “The Road”, based on Cormac McCarthy’s book of the same name.

166 Randall E. Stuart June 20, 2011 at 11:40 am

what about Rudy? He is proving himself to himself mostly, but his Dad is very prominently depicted as an important influence in that movie.

167 Orion June 20, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Second Hand Lions, without a doubt.

Orion

168 Brian June 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm

My elementary aged son bought me the Tron: Legacy DVD for Father’s Day. We watched it together and for the first time, I noticed that it had a very strong father/son dynamic to it, with the Father making a great sacrifice in the end for his son. It totally snuck up on me in the midst of the Daft Punk soundtrack and CGI extravaganza!

169 Boss Hawg June 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm

+1 on Life is Beautiful.

Would also add:
1) Frequency
2) In the Name of the Father

170 editwizard June 20, 2011 at 3:46 pm

A few have mentioned it but I’ll add another vote for:

It’s A Wonderful Life

It has both good and bad examples of how to carry yourself as a father. The scene where he doesn’t know what to do or where to turn and inadvertently snaps at his kids – and the looks on their faces – it just sears itself into my brain! I think we’ve all been on both sides of that struggle before.

171 John Jakubczyk June 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Life is Beautiful
Secondhand Lions
Frequency
as mentioned in previous posts

Then there are the Westerns: Rio Grande, Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Red River, Hondo, Shane, where the fatherhood themes are played out either directly or through the surrogate role.

172 Rush June 20, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Has anyone ever seen the movie (appropriately named) “Dad” with Ted Danson, Jack Lemmon and Olympia Dukakis? Jack Lemmon plays Danson’s father and finds his worst nightmare to be true; he has cancer. Danson tries to make up for lost time with his father as his condition deteriorates. Danson also struggles with his relationship with his own son. Quite the tear-jerker.

173 Charles Fernando June 20, 2011 at 5:27 pm

People should watch Two Sons of Francisco ( http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/two_sons_of_francisco/ ), it’s a brazilian movie about one of our famous duet of singers and how their father give it all to make them learn to sing and such.. I think is worth mention!

174 Kevin June 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Thank goodness someone already mentioned “The Road”.

175 Mitch June 20, 2011 at 7:38 pm

113 Brent

“The Road was one of the most moving movies I’ve seen. Not only does the father give his life for his son, but the man who rescues him when the boy’s father dies gives you the feeling that he’s going to protect him and dote on him as much as he does his own son. The wife of the man who rescues the boy gives you the same feeling. This is a must see movie.”

Way to spoil the ending for those who don’t know the story yet.

176 David June 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Watch Mary Poppins as an adult and consider it as a treatise on what it means to be a father. Listen to the lyrics of the songs..It was Walt Disney’s masterpiece.

177 Bob June 20, 2011 at 9:33 pm

What about the original Star Wars trilogy? Basically a redemption of a not so good father by his son.

178 Chris June 20, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Empire Strikes Back = “I am your father!”

179 Clarence June 20, 2011 at 11:55 pm

I’d include Curly Sue. And it sounds like maybe it was inspired by Paper Moon, which I haven’t seen.

180 Quinault Squatting Bear June 21, 2011 at 2:29 am

Indie flick about making peace with/forgiving an imperfect father: “Smoke Signals.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120321/

181 CA June 21, 2011 at 3:14 am

Big fan of Secondhand Lions and Mary Poppins. George Banks is an excellent father figure. My other favorites are Heidi with Shirley Temple and Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland.

182 Brian Hermann June 21, 2011 at 9:49 am

Have to agree with Life is Beautiful. The lengths he goes to, to protect his son from the horrors of a nazi concentration camp. Well done film.

183 JF June 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

It’s been years since I saw ‘My Life’ and it was in high school at the time. Just reading your description reminded me of it and, now that I have a brand new daughter, I misted up just thinking about the idea of that movie.

184 John June 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I’d add “The Last Days of Patton,” as in the last days of his life General Patton reflects upon his father, and Hallmark’s “A Christmas Visitor” involving a Vietnam veteran father whose son was killed in the Gulf War.

185 Jesse June 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I just recently watched “The Bicycle Thief” and thought it was phenomenal. It shows the struggles of a man trying to provide for his family while still balancing the line between right and wrong.

186 Derrick June 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm

The Road

I haven’t seen the movie, but I did read the book. The fathers love for his son made my heart ache for days after reading.

187 asdf June 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm

can’t believe you forgot “about a boy”

188 Robert Black June 22, 2011 at 4:47 am

I agree with ADAM on his choice of “The Road”

189 Gibson McIntosh June 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Its not a tear jerker or anything, but the father/son relationship between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery is just awesome. Also, I would have to mention John Wayne’s The Cowboys, which Wayne isn’t the 11 boys real father, but by the end of the film after all they went through they definitely think of him as their father, and he thinks of them as his own boys.

190 Ben Inkster June 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I think “Contact” was a fantastic film about fatherhood.

A father should pass on a basic wonder at the world around you and an insatiable curiosity. He should encourage his kids to use the gifts they’ve been given even if those gifts are unusual.

Ellie’s dad instills those qualities in his daughter – he was a great father.

191 Dana in NYC June 23, 2011 at 3:35 am

The Chinese movies by Ang Lee with the amazing Sihung Lung as the different fathers in “Pushing Hands”, “The Wedding Banquet”, “Eat Drink Man Woman”. Traditional fathers trying hard to understand their modern children.
“Class Action” – Gene Hackman courtroom drama with father/grown daughter
“Ordinary People” – Family implodes after tragedy but father/teenage son re-connect
Foster Father Movies:
“Jerry Maguire” – Tom Cruise finest emotive moment when he says goodbye to his sleeping stepson after his wife has asked for a separation
“3 Godfathers” – John Wayne/John Ford western, outlaws risk all for orphaned baby
Enemy Mine – SciFi hokey with poor special effects but strong emotional story of human paternal devotion to an orphaned alien

192 James M. June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am

How can we forget “Gran Torino” ? Clint Eastwood “The Man”, playing Walt Kowalski and his realtionship with Tao, the neighbor kid Walt influences from gangmember prospect to a hard working, respectful man.

193 Josh June 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm

In a slightly different direction, the show Friday Night Lights really portrays many complex father-son or father-daughter relationships. Most characters with a major story line in some way refers back to relationships with their dad. Everyone should watch the show, in its entirety: of this, I am whole-heartedly convinced.

194 Maya June 23, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Thanks, James M., for the “Gran Torino” mention — I was thinking of another of his surrogate dad roles, “Million Dollar Baby” — that movie slays me every time.

195 Joe June 24, 2011 at 9:22 am

Just food for thought, not an added suggestion… Fight Club shows what happens when there is no father-son relationship, and the lengths a man can go to find one. I recently did a quick (3 page) archetypal analysis of the movie, and there’s more father-son to it than you’d think (which is hard, considering the movie itself is a doozie). If you happen to watch it again, first read Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, and think of Brad Pitt as Edward Norton’s “father.”

Like I said, just food for thought. Great list.

196 Kevin June 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I know it’s corny, but I’ve always liked Dune (SciFi miniseries, and books). It deals with father/son relationships very uniquely. Paul (son) is royalty, and therefore is raised by several father figures, each unique. His real father plays the role of honest politician (like those exist), his instructors roles are scientist, warrior/poet, and doctor. He interacts with these characters individually, and that allows for a purity of sorts between the two people.

197 jeff June 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

I would add four.
Red River. John Wayne learns a lesson from his son.
Shane. A son learns just what real courage is not from a gunman, but from his dad.
How Green Was My Valley. All sons are different men, and the youngest can be the best man in the family.
The Three Lives of Thomasina. One of the best Disney live action films ever, where a heartbroken widower learns that he loves more than he could ever know, and finds it when almost loosing a daughter, and finding a new love on the same night.

198 Jessie June 25, 2011 at 2:35 am

In America and I Am Sam… two of the most touching movies I’ve ever seen.

199 Byron Cox June 25, 2011 at 4:37 am

You have to include “Dad”(1989) with Ted Danson and Jack Lemmon. Danson is able to understand the sacrafices his dad made to provide for his famiy and to rebuild a relationship with his own son. How many of us have not been able to build a relationship with our fathers until they are in retirement? Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle” ring a bell?
Of course “Smokey and the Bandit” has to top all. You have not spent enough time with your son if you do not understand Sheriff Buford T. Justice when he says “There is no way, “no” way that you came from “my” loins. Soon as I get home, first thing I’m gonna do is punch yo mamma in da mouth! It’s like time travel to see your son doing the same dumb things you did. Of course we can’t tell them about that.

200 Dane June 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Good to see “Big Fish” on the list. I was thinking of that one all month. I hope even men who aren’t into “that artsy stuff” will give it a chance … We all knew older men who tended to sensationalize their own past lives, after all.

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