As I sit here on Father’s Day, it is only natural that this month’s list selection deal with movie dads. As I started working on the list, though, I found that I was not looking for the “best” movie dad; rather, I started seeing movies that dealt with the relationship of the father. Some of these I have had the privilege of sharing with my dad and I hope to share the rest of them with him.
Now, before he makes me go mow the yard, here is my list of movies:
11. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
This is probably the weakest entry in the field, but still worth mentioning. Halfway through the movie, Dr. Jones, Sr., actually makes the case that he was a good father for allowing Indy to become self-reliant. In reality, Indy just wanted someone to talk to at times…
10. The Empire Strikes Back (1980) / Return of the Jedi (1983)
Before Lucas hit us over the head repeatedly with the newer trilogy about how Star Wars was really Anakin’s story, we viewed the original trilogy as Luke’s journey from simple farm boy to grown man. Part of this growth dealt with learning who his father was: Darth Vader. Despite what he may have done to the Star Wars galaxy, Vader only ever cared about his son. In the end, that meant sacrificing himself to save his son; something all fathers would gladly do.
9. Superman (1978)
Ignore the “messaich” angles of the story; Jor-El is just a father looking for the best home for his infant son. What he asks of Kal-El in taking care of Earth can also be viewed as a repayment for Earth becoming Kal-El’s new home. Again, a father ensuring the safety of his son before himself.
8. The Patriot (2000)
The first of two Mel Gibson entries in this list, The Patriot deals with that eternal struggle between fathers and sons as the son reaches adulthood. In the movie, Gibson’s character is forced to realize that he can not protect his son from the world or love….or even death.
7. Ransom (1996)
How could a list like this leave off the movie that left us with the memorable quote, “GIVE ME BACK MY SON!!!!!”? An average thriller with predictable plot points, it still shows us the length a father will go to protect his son.
6. American Pie (1999) / American Pie 2 (2001) / American Wedding (2003)
Jim’s Dad. Those two words say a lot to many movie goers over the past 9 years. Sure, just like all of our dads, Jim’s embarrassed him many times. Yet, also like all of our dads, Jim’s was always there with help and love when we needed it. And, yes, just like Jim’s dad, mine often said to me, “Let’s not tell your mother about this…”
5. The Lion King (1994)
Ironically, this is the second dad on this list voiced by the great James Earl Jones. Mufasa ends up dying saving Simba’s life, but it is the advice he gives a grown Simba that shows the eternal passing of knowledge from father to son.
4. Finding Nemo (2003)
While not one of my favorite Pixar movies, this movie is all about the relationship of father and son. Like Ransom and American Pie, it shows the lengths a father will go to find his son and bring him home safely.
3. Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)
A great movie that focuses on three major stories at different parts of Holland’s life as he struggles to finish his composition. The third story deals with his relationship with his deaf son. This is the movie that shows what the son can teach the father.
2. The Godfather (1972) / The Godfather II (1974) / The Godfather III (1990)
The ultimate trilogy about family, it is the second entry featuring Marlon Brando as a father. The trilogy gives us not one, but two, storylines of fathers doing what they can to protect and provide for their families. Even the third movie, hated by a lot of people, reinforces this theme as Michael Corleone continues to make difficult choices for what he thinks is best for his family.
1. Field of Dreams (1989)
A father who was never around; a son who resented it. Probably Kevin Costner’s best role as a son who is guided by voices to build a baseball field, then to search out certain people. In the end, all of the tasks were designed to create that reunion all of us wanted to see. Like Ol’ Yeller, this is the one movie that will create a lump in most men’s throats…