Every Father’s Day, my mind immediately thinks of movies. Although my Dad passed away almost five years ago now, I will always treasure our trips to the movies. Especially as a kid, I was thrilled that my Dad would take me to a place where my imagination could run wild and it was one area where we truly bonded. As I got older, I was always amazed at the amount of trivia he knew about actors, directors and even locations.
To celebrate this Father’s Day I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite Father’s Day movies. To be certain, there are traditional choices I could have picked, but this list is more about films that have a message about fathers and sons … sometimes told in serious ways, other times hilariously.
National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
What kid hasn’t had to go on a road trip with the family? Dad would have grand ideas on where we’d go and what we’d see, only to find out he’d bit off a little more than he could chew. Vacation captures the spirit of the family road trip better than any other film. Even with every misstep, Clark Griswold is trying to do right and get them to the magical destination of Wally World.
Clark Griswold: This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun and you're gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much ******* fun we'll need plastic surgery to remove our ******* smiles.
Field of Dreams (1989)
This film perfectly communicates the distance that can come between father and son over time. Then when a father passes away only then do we realize how much we missed. Much like Ray Kinsella there are so many things I’d like to tell my Dad now that he’s gone. Ray gets a second chance as he builds a baseball diamond in his fields to reconnect with the past.
Ray Kinsella: Hey ... Dad? You wanna have a catch?
John Kinsella: I'd like that.
The Godfather (1972)
The common theme throughout "The Godfather" is the importance of family above all else. Michael Corleone is conflicted by the prospect of carrying the legacy of his father, Don Corleone, but he eventually gives in. He makes the ultimate sacrifice to carry on the family legacy, giving up his dreams in the process. For being the ultimate Mafia movie it does an excellent job of showing how to be an honorable man.
Don Corleone: Tell me, do you spend time with your family?
Johnny Fontane: Sure I do.
Don Corleone: Good. Because a man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Much like Atticus Finch, my father was stern and fair. Both loved their kids but won’t allow them to get away with bad behavior. One of the qualities I admire most about Atticus is that he takes every opportunity to teach his children lessons that will help create a strong moral foundation. This is one of the most powerful depictions of fatherhood in movie history.
Atticus Finch: I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house; and that he'd rather I'd shoot at tin cans in the backyard. But he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted -- if I could hit 'em; but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Back to the Future (1985)
This film might not feel like a traditional father/son tale but for me it hits home on the issue of respect. Marty McFly has never really looked up to his father, a weak-willed man who doesn’t give Marty the support he needs. Fortunately for Marty, his friend Doc Brown gives him the opportunity to build a better dad accidentally when he’s sent back in time. In a case of reverse parenting, Marty helps a teenage George McFly discovers what it is to be a man. Turns out that sometimes punching someone really hard in the face is the right thing to do.
Marty McFly: If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.