By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Happy Father’s Day to all, and to some, it’s time to sit back and relax. That includes looking at what films are a fun watch for everyone after a long day. My criteria is to consider films that can do for the good of the family, with father (or a father figure) as part of the plot or not. Or in how easy or uneasy it is for dad to manage the family unit.
Finding Nemo (2003) – There is a lot of charm in this father-son tale where Marlin, a clownfish, realizes there has to be a time where he has to learn to let go, and let his little boy grow up. Pops is devoted to what’s left of his family, and how he feels may well be a good life learning lesson for any real life family dealing with heartbreak after the loss of someone near or dear at any stage of that bonding process.
DreamWork’s Dragons (2012)
and How to Train Your Dragon movies (2010, 2014) – In essence, this series is about a father and son learning about and discovering what they can do for each other. When the lead character, Hiccup, son of Stoick the Vast, has a lot to deal with (namely in slowly learning how to be a hero), just when will he will take up the mantle of chieftain has often been addressed. In the theatrical sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, the young lad is avoiding the inevitable. But for audiences, they learn just how much of a father Stoick is, especially when all they have is each other (spoilers notwithstanding).
The best episode has to be with “How To Pick Your Dragon” when this chieftain reveals to Hiccup just how hard he has worked to bring a good life for everyone. Now that’s a father you can respect and borne out of Viking legend!
Cheaper by the Dozen (2003) & Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005) – I enjoyed the two modern versions, starring Steve Martin, where he comically has to juggle between home life and work. How he succeeds is not perfect. But when he talks, relaying to his family what he did not manage to experience from his childhood, that’s the defining moment that sold me to loving this pair of Shawn Levy directed films.
Kudos has to go to Tom (Martin) for managing to do the right thing. And to see that he does need the help of wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt), shows that there are times he can not go it alone.
Uncle Buck (1989) – John Hughes rarely can do no wrong and nor can John Candy. He plays a sloth turned surrogate dad when the parents, Bob and Cindy Russell, have to go away to deal with their own emergency. Cindy’s dad had a heart attack, and the challenge of whether to take the kids along becomes an issue. When Bob suggests Buck (Candy), the hilarity cannot be any better.
Despite being thrust into a situation of teaching a teenage niece the finer points in dealing with life and entertaining a younger pair of children, he finds that being a parent has a unique set of challenges. Sometimes its hard, but he manages to do just fine. That helps when he has a sort-of girlfriend who provides some assistance.
That formula works to show that anyone can become a father-figure, especially when you care.
Up (2009) – No matter what, grandparents and fuddy-duddys deserve lots of love. When they are faced with an ever-changing generation who claims that they do not understand them, sometimes all the motivation that’s required for the elder and the younger is to go on a grande adventure. Up succeeds at showing just what two unlikely individuals can do together when they become an instant loving surrogate family, complete with a squirrel obsessed dog.