Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Good-Father Movies

There are Godfather movies (I, II, and III) and good-father movies. My friend BB posted on Facebook yesterday bemoaning the lack of good fathers in films today, asking: “When was the last time that a father was shown as anything other than a buffoon?” True, men can be morons in everything from movies to beer ads. The only funny woman I can think of in commercials these days is that daffy gal in the Progressive ads. But guys in ads? Almost all of them are idiots.

Still, I think my friend overstates the case. In movies anyway, I think there have been some great dads, even in recent years. Here are a few to consider:

Juno. C’mon BB, my wise Catholic friend! Here’s a pro-life movie with not one but two good fathers! J. K. Simmons (pictured, above) is the totally believable, totally understanding father of a pregnant teen (Ellen Page), and let’s not forget Michael Cera, who is nothing less than the father of her child. A pretty good dad, too, for a goofy, clueless kid.

Biutiful. Of the films I have seen in the past 18 months, this is the one that stays with me. Javier Bardem’s character may not be good in a strictly moralistic sense, but when he contracts cancer and faces leaving his children, he is a very good and moving dad indeed.

Little Miss Sunshine. Admittedly, Greg Kinnear is a total jerk for the first 90 percent of the movie, but who can forget him dancing with his daughter Olive at the beauty pageant? Like Bardem’s character in Biutiful, he is a father redeemed by the love of his child.

The Kids Are All Right. Just about the only good thing in this story about the children of a lesbian couple who want to find their father is . . . the father (Mark Ruffalo, left). The movie comes to life when the kids find their dad—and sells out when the scriptwriters dump him in order to say that the same-sex marriage is the right thing in the end. And if you want to know what I really think, here’s my review.

The Pursuit of Happyness. What’s not to like—or admire—about Will Smith as a father forced to live in the street with his son after his wife leaves him and he loses his house, his bank account, and credit cards?

True Grit. Where’s the dad in this film, you ask? He’s dead. But he’s the sole motivation for the action of the film. He’s the reason his daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) is looking for his killer. He must have been a good dad, too, right?

There, that’s half a dozen. Admittedly, I couldn’t get to ten on my own, but you can help. Any other ideas? As a father myself, I need plenty of good examples.


  1. To Kill a Mockingbird (one of my favorites), Cheaper by the Dozen (another one of my favorites), Sleepless in Seattle, Love Actually

  2. Beauty and the Beast
    Up (not an actual father but a father figure.)

  3. I just watched Get Low and the supporting actor, Lucas Black, plays a fine father figure albeit with limited showcase or parenting scenes; Robert Duvall acting the main character was also fantastic.

  4. Life is Beautiful. Roberto Benigni's character, Guido, is a great father and husband. He protects his son while in a concentration camp and ultimately sacrifices himself protect him.

  5. The article and the comboxes actually serve to make the point. Some of these movies go against the anti-male grain (and some a stretch), OK, but they are exceptions, which . . . prove the rule.

    Tom in Ohio

  6. Cinderella Man
    Cinema Paradiso (father figure)
    Silas Marner (adoptive/foster father)

  7. I have to say "Bella". Even though Jose isn't the father of the unborn child, he becomes a support and father figure to both the child and her mother. His own father is his role model, and an excellent one as well.
    Thanks for a great post! I will have to put some of these on my Netflix queue.

  8. Excellent suggestions all, and thanks. Some friends e-mailed me the following titles as well:

    Mrs. Doubtfire (good choice, though it's not exactly recent)
    The Incredibles
    Big Daddy
    Win Win

  9. More good suggestions from family members:

    Billy Elliot
    Live and Become
    The Winslow Boy

  10. Grand Tarino, While his own kids reject him, he's a great father to the young Koreans on his block. The Mr. Incredible is one of the all-time best. And the two uncles in Secondhand Lions!

  11. A lovely father is portrayed by Robert DeNiro in "A Bronx Tale". Indeed, he credits his departed father in the end credits.


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