With Father’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to look at films that teach us why fathers count. All too often, films depict dads as irrelevant, unnecessary, or just plain stupid.
But research tells us that dads matter – tremendously – for the wellbeing of their children, both sons and daughters.
So, let’s dive in to my top ten films that highlight the love of fathers, and the difference that makes in children’s lives.
I know it will be an immediate turn-off for many, but this is one Nicholas Cage movie that is honestly worth watching. A big-note Wall St trader finds out how life might have been different if he’d married and had those children. This is a really, honest-to-goodness, fun film about dads with a really meaningful message. (And even the trailer makes me get all misty-eyed.)
Ok. I know this is kind of cheesy. But Bruce Willis honestly made me cry in this movie. I remember sitting in the cinema with hot, heavy tears rolling down my cheeks onto my 1990’s blue chambray shirt, staining the light blue garment a deep navy where they landed. Willis’ sacrifice for his daughter – and the future of humanity – creates powerful emotions.
Robin Williams takes fatherhood to a whole new level. Here is a dad who just wants to be with his children, and he is willing to do nearly anything to do it. A little odd – what do you expect from Robin Williams? Completely heart-warming. A must-see movie.
So Marlin, the clown-fish, isn’t necessarily the best dad in the sea. But he loves his son, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to help him. Plus, he experiences some remarkable post-traumatic growth.
Many people will think that Atticus Finch should be at number one. He is a remarkable, enlightened, outstanding father to Scout under tremendously challenging circumstances. But the movie is old now, and there are others that touched me more deeply. Nevertheless, this was a story-telling masterpiece, and models the very best of fatherhood.
Yes, it is true that Mr Incredible does seem like the bumbling baffoon. But he also loves his family. I think Disney Pixar honoured the role of father beautifully in this film. It is not a tear-jerker. But it displays caring, hard-working fatherhood that is willing to sacrifice anything and everything for the wellbeing of family. One of my favourites.
Brad Pitt, fly-fishing, thoughtful dialogue, a tidy plot, incredible scenery, and a movie all about relationships. This is brilliant cinema around the fatherhood theme.
This was one of the most unexpectedly gorgeous films I’ve seen about fatherhood. John Cusack wants to adopt a child. The one he takes home believes he is from Mars. It is not possible to watch this film without wanting to love your own children more.
A man who loves music has a son who is deaf. Ironically, this father is equally deaf to his son’s needs. This Richard Dreyfuss role may be one of his absolute best. Watching a father learn to love his son leaves me reaching for the tissues every time.
At first I didn’t really know what to think of Matthew McConaughey in his role as an astronaut with a mission to save the world. The movie was a bit weird. But watching the incredible impact that his departure had on his children, and seeing him do everything he could to be with them again, or to save them, was heart-rending. The juxtaposition between McConaughey as a father and Michael Caine in his paternal role was masterful too.
Jean Valjean’s growth and goodness is the centrepiece of this phenomenal film and stageplay. While Valjean (24601) is not strictly a father to Cosette, he shows perfectly what a father should be.
I do not believe there has ever been a better movie for demonstrating how important fathers are for their children. If you have not watched this film, hire it for Father’s Day and watch it. If you aren’t hugging your children in a sobbing mess by the end of it, you are a robot.
I have to throw a couple of honourable mentions in, including: The Judge (Robert Downey Jnr and Robert Duvall); Road to Perdition (Tom Hanks); The Road (Viggo Mortensen); We Bought a Zoo (Matt Damon); and I am Sam (Sean Penn).
What have I missed? What movies about fatherhood have changed the way you feel about family?