A variety pack of films involving fathers and their children. Some serious, some funny, some suspenseful, some sentimental.
Chef. A son wanting to get to spend time with his father and help in his new business venture. Who learns more, the son or the father? A delightful blend of Latin food, tasty tunes, tweets from the road and a deepening appreciation of things that really matter.
To Kill a Mockingbird. Regardless of your politics, who wouldn’t want to have a father like Atticus Finch? Brave, principled, humble, sentimental and loving. We should all drink from that fountain of fatherhood.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. For me, the best of the series. Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in the ultimate road picture. Mix in some Nazis, a Zeppelin flight, a young Indiana Jones, exotic locations and a father and son that grow to understand and accept each other, mostly.
Houseboat. Cary Grant as a father of three kids that he hardly knows, but steps up to raise them after the mother dies. Cary grows into a father just as the final credits roll. Great timing! Throw in Sophia Loren, a houseboat and Washington DC. How’s that for a weird mixture? Cary and Sophia developed so much chemistry in their roles that it threatened her relationship with Carlo Ponti.
On Golden Pond. The only time that Jane and Henry Fonda worked together. The last role of his life and his only Oscar for Best Acting. Although not specifically written for them, the original play could have been written about the Fondas. Producer Jane, bought the play and cast her father in the role as her distant and cold father, a slice of their real relationship.
American Pie. Every boy needs a father to help guide him during those critical years and coming of age experiences. Apple or cherry?
Nobody’s Fool. Sometimes to be a better parent you have to focus on being a good grandparent. Paul Newman, in one of his better late career films, plays the role of a man who has run from responsibility and let down those closest to him. He’s down, but not out. Enter his son and grandson, who need his help. The film is about letting go of ships that are not coming in and realizing you have more to offer than you ever dreamed.
Big Jake. What brings a father and sons closer together than tracking killers with a chest full of ransom money? John Wayne never played Ward Cleaver-type fathers, he was usually a film father estranged from his kids.
Spencer’s Mountain. The forerunner of the Waltons. Henry Fonda is a patriarch with a large brood of kids, the oldest getting ready to go to college. The only problem is a lack of money. Very sentimental, it shows the strength of a family and what they will do for each other.
Field of Dreams. Ease his pain. How can you watch this film and not get a lump in your throat at the end. Since everyone on the planet has seen this film many times, there is no spoiler alert needed. Remember, life is a journey, and this film takes Kevin Costner to Boston, Minnesota, and back to Iowa before he finds what is right in front of him.
Honorable Mention: The Omen, Breaking Away, Nebraska, Kramer vs. Kramer, Father of the Bride, The Royal Tannenbaums.
Fathers are supposed to have all the answers, be tough as granite, and never have a bad day. Sometimes we get onto the wrong track, hold onto beliefs that should be discarded, focus on money and our careers, and fail to see what’s right in front of us. We all want to be Atticus Finch but often turn into Al Bundy.