Not everyone has the family experience they should have … or want. But the truth is, we can learn from the success (and failure) of those who have come before us, even our own parents. This Father’s Day, we hope that you’ll consider the lessons from your own life, and a few from these films, as you figure out how to be child, a parent, and a whole person, growing each day.
Here are a few of our favorite films about fatherhood.
As I grow older (and hopefully wiser), I begin to see more value in this film as a dad raising three daughters. It’s not easy, folks. Take it from George Banks (Steve Martin):
You have a little girl. An adorable little girl who looks up to you and adores you in a way you could never have imagined. I remember how her little hand used to fit inside mine. Then comes the day when she wants to get her ears pierced and wants you to drop her off a block before the movie theater. From that moment on you’re in a constant panic. You worry about her meeting the wrong kind of guy, the kind of guy who only wants one thing, and you know exactly what that one thing is, because it’s the same thing you wanted when you were their age. Then, you stop worrying about her meeting the wrong guy, and you worry about her meeting the right guy. That’s the greatest fear of all, because then you lose her.
Thankfully, I haven’t quite gotten to the ‘drop her off a block before the movie theater’ line. But fathers have a special role in the development of their kids that should not be overlooked. They’re supposed to love, care for, protect, and build up their kids to make right decisions consistently. The Bible makes it clear that dad are not to “embitter your children [i.e. provoke or make resentful], or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). Father of the Bride showcases a dad letting go and trusting that all the lessons he taught his daughter along the way would help her have a fantastic and fruitful life. Isn’t that what all fathers secretly want to have happen? — J. Alan Sharrer
There aren’t many things out there that is more iconic (in the US that is) than a dad playing catch with his son. Baseball, no matter how far behind it has fallen to other sports today, is and always will be America’s past time. So when you think of a great Father’s day film that really speaks to the heart of it, Field of Dreams ranks right up there. “If you build it, he will come” is the theme heard throughout the film leads you on this journey.
A dad (Kevin Costner) has that pressure we all feel of providing for his family. Yet, with his son believing in him, and his wife (although she doubts a little) backing him, he builds a baseball field on his farm. The field brings the past to life in the present. It’s a magical feel that saves his farm, creates a special connection with his son, and in the end reunites him with the father he never got the chance to play catch with. Baseball, fathers, and sons…..a perfect combination. — Arnaldo Reyes
Dr. Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) moves his family from the Chicago rat race to the idyllic countryside of Maine and all seems right…for about five minutes. Aside from the nearly non-stop slew of tractor trailers zooming past the front of his new place, the creepy pet cemetery at the rear, and the ghost of the college student who died in his treatment room on his first day in his new practice (who has now decided to haunt him), everything seems hunky dory. While his wife and daughter are away, the family cat, Church, falls victim to one of the endless trucks. Judd Crandall (Fred Gwynne, of The Munsters fame), a neighbor, helps bury Church, but not at the pet cemetery—at an old Indian burial ground just a little further up the hillside. A day later, the previously graveyard-dead Church shows back up at the house, now fully alive, and mean as a rattlesnake.
It isn’t long before another of the trucks claims the life of Louis’ toddler, Gage. Louis, non-plussed by Church’s hellish behavior, decides to bury Gage at the Indian site in the hopes that he too will return. And return he does, with a bloodthirsty vengeance.
Based upon Stephen King’s novel of the same name (King wrote the screenplay, as well), Pet Sematary is a most bizarre, macabre love letter from a father to a son. On the surface, it’s easily dismissed as a new twist on the classic zombie film. But sift through the layers and you’ll find a story of undying devotion (granted, an obsessive, borderline psychotic one). Louis will do anything he can to bring his son back, even if it means sacrificing his own life—and possibly, the lives of the rest of those he loves. In a warped sense, it dredges up the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15: 1-7), whose shepherd risks the lives of the ninety-nine others in his flock to rescue the one who has strayed. Jesus tells us God–our Heavenly Father–is just as relentless in his pursuit of us; in his attempt to bring us, Lazarus-like, out of the dark tombs we wander into. And if we will just believe in him, he promises us that one day we too will rise again to eternal life. Creepy zombie cats (hopefully) not included.–Jason Norton
First Knight (1998)—not to be confused with the Dark Knight—takes us back in time to the court of King Arthur (Sean Connery). Engaged to be married to Lady Guinevere (Julia Ormond), Arthur lords over Camelot with strength, power, and grace. When he meets the brave Lancelot (Richard Gere), he is immediately taken by the young man, inviting him to become a member of the Knights of the Roundtable. However, Arthur’s leadership is soon put to the test as Camelot comes under the attack of the evil Malagant (Ben Cross) and they are drawn into combat. What’s more, as Lancelot catches Guinevere’s eye and the two consider giving into their passions, Arthur soon discovers that not all wars are on the field of battle.
While this film is definitely more obscure than titles like Finding Nemo and Field of Dreams, I have to admit that it’s one of the movies that has had a significant impact on me over the years. Hardly considered a classic due to its obvious flaws, there’s still something about Connery’s King Arthur that has always humbled me. Released during his ’90s ‘renaissance period’ (somewhere between The Untouchables and Entrapment – and well before The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ruined our lives forever), Connery carries the mantle of history’s most famous medieval king in a manner that reflects God-like qualities. Faced with the rebellion of Malagant and his army, he remains both calm and protective. As he hears of Guinevere’s betrayal, his heart breaks but his judgment never becomes vengeful. And, in the midst of it all, he constantly offers grace. In the end, we see a man who is both broken by prodigals, yet steadfast in his loving leadership.
To me, that’s the very definition of fatherhood.
No; I’m not referring to the antics of Vitruvius, Wyldstyle, and Emmet, but to a deeper aspect to this film. When Emmet lets himself fall from the Octan Tower into the Magic Portal, he ends up . . . a part of real life. It turns out that the whole film–up to that point–was from the imagination of Finn, a young boy playing with his dad’s Lego collection (a quite sizable one) and playing out what real life is like for him.
However, Finn’s dad (Will Ferrell) has taped all kinds of warnings on the tables to let people know that his Lego buildings are not to be messed with. He wants order–just like President Business. And when he comes downstairs, he doesn’t like what he sees at all. Finn tries to convince him that Lego creations are just toys, but Dad insists that they’re “a highly sophisticated, interlocking brick system” and sets out to restore things the way they were.
It’s through this discussion that Finn’s Dad comes to understand that, perhaps, it’s okay to keep the lines between kids and adults a little blurred. It’s important to spend time on occasion with your kids simply doing kid stuff. It allows the relationship to grow and keeps resentment from creeping in. Their reconciliation scene is unexpected—and quite touching. The Lego Movie is also a fantastic reminder that, as the writer of Ecclesiastes noted, there is a time for everything (3:1)—like making memories with our children that will last a lifetime.— J. Alan Sharrer
Instructions Not Included
A film that many have probably not seen because of it is at least half Spanish with subtitles, Instructions Not Included will have you laughing throughout, only to make you cry at the end. The tears are not because the film is bad; it is because you finally understand the craziness of it! You will realize how one man, who had no idea what he was doing and for the most part appeared like he should not be raising a little girl on his own, turned out to be the best father in the world.
After he has a fling with an American girl, she drops off a little baby and runs off. Here is this man with no clue what to do and no idea how to raise a child. He goes to the United States looking for the mother and instead by wild occurrence becomes a stunt man. When the girl is a little older, she has free rein to do whatever she wants really. He buys her everything, he lets her have a vivid imagination, and he also lies about her mother. When the mother comes back, she attempts to take the girl back after seeing what appears to be an unfit dad raising a girl with no boundaries or discipline. The courts rules in his favor, but the mother pulls the DNA card and it turns out, he is not the father. All these years and now he has no choice but to give her up.
Instead, he runs off with her to Mexico, and when the mother threatens his friend, the truth is revealed. She has a terminal illness, so he lived everyday as if it was the last day he would see her. He gave her everything and allowed her to experience a full and happy life. In the end, in his father’s arms overlooking the ocean, she went just as happy and peacefully as she lived. A great example of how awesome fathers can be. –Arnaldo Reyes
Tim Burton’s film didn’t immediately grab me the first time I saw it, but every time I’ve seen it since, it has opened up a little more for me. In this tall tale of a parable, Will (Billy Crudup) sits with his father, Edward (Albert Finney as an older man; Ewan McGregor as the younger one), as he dies. Will has been estranged from his father for as long as he can remember, and his father’s inability to “tell a story straight” continues to frustrate the son. But he sets out to find out once and for all whether these are true stories or figments of his father’s imagination.
To tell more would undo the magic of this story, but it does show, quite visually, that there is a deeper truth (to quote C.S. Lewis, “a deeper magic”) buried in the stories Edward tells. He is certainly not the father to Will that he hoped to be but he aimed to give his son everything he could, and to provide Will with the belief in himself that he could accomplish anything, no matter how insurmountable it might be. Big Fish is a parable you can’t see without getting a bit wet. — Jacob Sahms