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Monday, October 10, 2011

Top 20 Dad Moment Movies

Here is a list of my top 20 dad moment movies.  Join me as we look through years of cinema to find the dad scenes that made a lasting and emotional connection.

Did these movies make your top list?  Leave your comments below, about what which dad scenes in movies over the years, have made an impact on you.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - I am a huge Indiana Jones fan, so this one had to make it in to my top twenty.  Seeing Indy (JU-nior) and his dad interact is a pleasure.  No matter where we roam in our lives, there is no escaping the bonds of family.  Interestingly the fourth installment of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the dad theme continues with his own son.  It's a shame that Sean Connery had retired; it would have been great to see three generations of Jones'es on the silver screen.


Rock-A-Bye Baby - This isn't the first movie that comes to mind when people think about Dad movies.  Admittedly, it is campy and cheesy, but it's cute.  The late night baby feeding scene brings back a memory or two for me, and you will enjoy the lullaby duet of "Dormi, Dormi, Dormi"  Very sweet.  (An interesting note, Jerry sings a duet with himself as a child, played by his real life son Gary)

Star Wars Return of The Jedi - Obviously, one of the most iconic movie franchises, of all time.  Who can ever forget the infamous line "No, I am your Father."  It is a movie that shows the powerful bond between father and son.  My son has said to me on many occasions, that if I ever go to the bad guys team, that he will keep coming for me until go back to the good guys team.  The influence of George Lucas on the world..and my family.

Liar Liar - The importance of keeping your word to your children.  Jim Carrey's character learns this the hard way, when his son's wish forces him to tell the truth for 24 hours.  You can't keep from smiling when dad attacks him with "the claw"

Forrest Gump - It is so poigniant to see Forrest in that moment that he finds out that he is a father. "I named him after his Daddy. / He got a daddy named Forrest, too? / You're his daddy, Forrest." He then expresses the concern of "but, he smart, or is he".  It was very inspiring to see him caring for and teaching little Forrest about life.

Apollo 13 - This scene always stands out in my mind.  Tom Hank's character talking to his son about the upcoming mission.  The vulnerability of the son as he asks about the fire, and the open "back and forth" between them.

To Kill a Mockingbird - The quiet strength of the Atticus character.  Living a life of principle in front of his children and in the community.  I loved the scene when his youngest sees the respect that others had for her father "Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing."  There is truly no greater lesson that we will teach our kids, than by how we live in front of them.

Finding Nemo - It is hard to let go.  We love our children and want to protect them, but we must allow them the chance to grow and thrive.  Marlin learns this important truth in his relentless quest to find his son.

Searching For Bobby Fischer - A dad discovers that his young child has an amazing talent for chess.  He and other adults in the child's life begin to push the boy to be the best, while the boy struggles to find his own identity.  I love the scene where the parents are locked out of the competition and must hear about the action, play by play from the other children.  An important lesson about the difference between pushing and encouragement.

Neverwas - I had not heard of this movie in any advertisements, but I stumbled across this one in the aisles of the video store one day.  It included Ian McKellen of Lord Of The Rings fame, so I thought that I would check it out.  I very much enjoyed it.  A tale of a son reconnecting with his dad (a famous author) years after he had died.  He did so, through some of his writings and interviews, as well as a curious, institutionalized old man that was closely connected to his father.  He was able to see is dad through the eyes of others and finally come to an understanding of how much he had really been loved by his dad.

Big Fish - This was another adult child reconciling with his dad movies.  His dad was an avid story teller, and the son always felt a disconnect with him.  Only when his dad is close to death, is he able to see his dad's heart that was in the stories the whole time.  A very happy/sad moment as his son is able to open up his own imagination and finally bond with his father.

It's a Wonderful Life - This is among my favorite movies of all time.  The emotional scene where he is with his family just before Christmas.  The weight of the whole world seems to be on his two shoulders and he clings to his youngest child.  Then we he has had his life changing experience and returns, tearfully reunited again with his family who loves him.

An American Tail - I get emotional, when near the end of the movie, he is traveling the city and searching for his long lost son.  They hear one another and they finally meet in a warm and loving embrace.  It is a reminder about how much I love my own two sons and would search the world for them as well.

Signs - I loved some of the interactions of the dad in this movie.  He has lost his wife and his hope, but through it all, his love for his family is still there.  There is a particularly "gut wrenching" scene where Mel Gibson's character is trying to get his son through an asthma attack.  I also enjoyed the time that he helps his children through a perilous ordeal by reminiscing with them about how each came into his world at birth.

Field of Dreams - I have seen that there have been many who have picked out this particular scene as one of their favorites.  A man builds a baseball field and comes face to face with his father as a young man.  Voice cracking, as his dad begins to leave, "Hey, Dad?  You wanna have a catch?"  Time is so short; live it to the fullest.

Frequency - I really love this movie a lot.  A boy loses a beloved father at an early age and through a miraculous set of circumstances, they are able to communicate over time through an old ham radio.  A far fetched concept, to be sure, but it is so touching to watch this boy and his dad, who obviously love each other very much.  They are able to bridge in just a few minutes, the years that had separated them.  The son's face and voice when the dad says "You're still my little chief, right? / Yeah, I'm trying to be. I'm trying."

Jaws - As a dad, this has to be one of the cutest scenes out there for me.  Roy Scheider's character had been through a horrific day.  Sitting down at the dining room table and lost in his thoughts, he doesn't see that his young son is copying his every move. Picking up a glass, hands to his head, hands folded in front of him.  When he finally does notice, there is a little playful exchange.  Later he says "Come here. Give us a kiss."  The boy asks, "Why?" He replies, "Because I need it."  (Someone did a funny parody of this scene.  You can see it here)

Lion King - I enjoy the playful, yet serious talks that the father and son have in this movie.  Power with tenderness.  Later, when the dad sees his son in peril, he uses every last bit of strength to save him.  Ultimately, it comes at the cost of his life, but it was given willingly and out of the deepest love.

I Am Sam - A mentally retarded father, doing the best that he can to raise his daughter.  Even though she is becoming smarter than he, his love as a dad never falters.  It is heartbreaking to see as they both struggle to stay together as forces conspire to break them up.  Grab your Kleenex, man.

Deep Impact - There were a lot of great dad scenes in this movie.  A father hands over his infant child to his daughter, resigned with his own fate, but willing give her a chance at hope.  There was a very touching scene of a dad reconciling with his daughter on the beach in their last moments on earth.  The one, however, that almost always makes a huge lump in my throat is when an astronaut who had been blinded, says goodbye to his wife and newly born son.  "His name is Oren.  I named him after you.  Hello, Oren.  Show him what you brought him.  He's holding up a little rocket.  That's a mighty powerful rocket you got there.  He's laughing.  I can hear him.  I know.  I'm hugging you both right now.  I'm holding you."


Honorable Mention:

2010 - It was cute to see the dad, as he tries to explain space travel to his young son.
A Few Good Men - I liked it when he was musing about whether his dad would have been proud of him.
Cheaper By The Dozen - A dozen kids and chaos, but he still maintains his sense of humor.
Father of the Bride - It's hard to wake up and see your children grown up.  Life is so short and precious.
Hook - When he finally wakes up to life around him, he realizes that his happy thought is is son.
Independence Day - Will Smith has some cute scenes with his son, but my favorites are between Jeff Goldblum and his adult father.
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Kind of a departure from the rest of this list.  More of a tragic father and son relationship.  After his one son is killed in battle, the father in mourning blames his other son.  The son reaches out to his father through the pain. "Is there a captain here who still has the courage to do his lord's will? / You wish now that our places had been exchanged... that I had died and Boromir had lived. / Yes. I wish that. / Since you are robbed of Boromir... I will do what I can in his stead. If I should return, think better of me, Father. / That will depend on the manner of your return."
Life With Father - An oldie, but a goodie.
Mrs. Doubtfire - Can you imagine having Robin Williams for a dad?
Papa's Delicate Condition - An amazing bond between father and daughter.
The Sandlot - I liked the awkward interplay between the boy and his step dad.
See How They Run - An old serious role for Leslie Nielsen.  It was sweet when he made his birthday wish and when he put his children to bed.  His love and wisdom have an effect on his children, even after his death.
Sleepless in Seattle - The struggles of a widowed dad.
The Santa Clause - "I love you Santa Clause.  I love you son."
Tron Legacy - I enjoyed it when he was talking with his son at the beginning of the movie.  "We're always on the same team."  Also later, I liked when he reunites with his son, saying "You're here. You're big." He replies, "You're..." "old."


  1. Great list! I may quibble about some of the placements (like switching #18 up to #1....) ;0)

    I've got one I'd like to nominate for your Honorable Mentions list: Junior, starring Danny DeVito, Emma Thompson and Ah-nold himself. While the movie was not a hugs blockbuster affair, it did show an interesting side of the lengths a father would go to in order to experience all the joys of... um... Fatherhood. That's an over simplification of the movie's premise, so check it out at IMDb:

    Anyway, great job! And I agree -- it would have been WAY cool to see three generations of Joneses on the big screen!

  2. To DrthGeek: I appreciate the comment. It was a long and interesting journey, finding these dad movie references, and I knew that I would inevitably miss some.

    I will have to admit that Junior wasn't one that I had really thought of before. It certainly has merits as an unusual perspective into father/motherhood.

    Your comment about #18 does not surprise me from someone who would freely admit to being a "fanboy", but in a good way.

    Thanks for reading, and for contributing to the conversation.


  3. @ TGCD: Hey... I might just admit to the "bad" connotation too! It does not fit on this list, but check out the 2008 movie Fanboys. I caution watching with a grain of salt, though.... Some scenes can be rough to watch.

    This film shows it takes all kinds! :0)

    Even Trekkies!!! ;0)