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5 Great Films About Fathers -- Selected by a Father + Filmmaker

Not only is my husband a great father to our two sons, but he is also a talented independent filmmaker. SMUGGLED, the latest independent film that he wrote and directed, which our production company released a couple of months ago, won 5 awards on the film festival circuit with 15 selections and has been featured by NBCLatino, ABC and many other media outlets, including a great write-up by Mamiverse praising the way the film portrays a beautiful mother-son relationship (largely in honor of his own mother who passed away over 10 years ago). I also love this post from Kid World Citizen about the way the film can be utilized to teach youth about immigration. 

For Father's Day, I decided to ask him to pick 5 of his favorite films featuring fathers. Some of his picks were as I expected, but some surprised me -- in a good way. I also wrote down my own top 5 films featuring fathers before he shared his. So, here's his picks (and mine!) 
  1. Pursuit of Happyness - Based on the life of Chris Gardner, this film shows the sacrifices and risks a father will take to give his son a better life -- and to be a father that models courage and commitment. This touching film will make you life and cry -- and, most likely, will leave you inspired. 

  2. I Am Sam - More than any other film, I Am Sam gets to the core of what it really means to be a great father as it tells the story of a mentally disabled father struggling to raise his 7 year-old daughter whose mother skipped out immediately after the child was born. Sean Penn's performance as Sam is amazing. His character's love and dedication for his daughter is juxtaposed against a hard-working, high profile (and high strung) lawyer who struggles to connect to her son. Ultimately, as well, the film is a testament to the most basic parenting reality -- that it does indeed take a village to raise a child. 

  3. The Karate Kid (1984 version) - This was the first film on the list that surprised me (in fact, my #1 and 2 films were the same as my husband's). Though there is no traditional father in The Karate Kid, but certainly Mr. Miyagi ends up assuming the role of father for Daniel (played by Ralph Maccio). Likewise, Daniel fulfills the role of son for Miyagi as well, who even calls him Danielson. I loved that this film was included because it highlights the reality that being a father is not about blood, but about the roles that people play in each other's life. Certainly, there are several fathers who should (and hopefully will) be honored on Father's Day by children who appreciative them, even if those individuals are not fathers in the traditional sense of the word.

  4. John Q - This is an often overlooked film. (In fact, when he mentioned it, I realized that I had forgotten about this film). Yet, it certainly makes sense on the list. In John Q, Denzel Washington plays a father who will go to any length to save his son. Can't get much more fatherly than that. 

  5. Daddy Day Care - The list definitely needed a comedy, and this is a perfect comedic film to include as it tells the story of two fathers (Charlie played by Eddie Murphy and Phil played by Jeff Garlin) who open up a day care after being laid off from their advertising jobs. We need films/books/media that demonstrate the value of men as caregivers and that underscore that men can excel as child caregivers. Additionally, through the film, Charlie realizes that spending time with his son and being available for his son is more important than making lots of money -- an important reminder indeed for all parents. 
I have to also share that Delta Force 3: The Killing Game almost made the list, even though my husband wanted me to make it very clear that he in NO WAY is recommending that anyone see this film or that it is good -- quite the opposite, the film is AWFUL. However, it almost made the list because it is a film he always thinks about when he thinks about fathers because his father was a huge fan of all of the film. He thinks that it is quite possible that this is one of the last movies he ever watched with his dad. So, really it is the memory connected with the film that makes it important. 

How about you? What are your favorite films about fathers? Is their a film that makes you think of your dad or that the two of you always watched together? Right now, at our house, my 3.5 year-old loves to The Sandlot with his daddy! 

As for me, my top 5 are: Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Sam, Life Is Beautiful, Annie (my father and I actually performed songs from Annie together at our church. My mom made me a perfect red dress, and my dad was a fabulous Daddy Warbucks!). #5 for me is Be Kind Rewind. Be Kind Rewind is my surprise film on the list as it, like The Karate Kid, portrays a father-son like relationship between two individuals that are not related, but who certainly play the role of father and son in one another's lives -- each teaching the other some valuable things along the way. 

My husband and I also discussed some of our favorite television and film fathers of all time, which include: Cliff Huxtable (of course), Clark Griswold and Al Bunker with honorable mentions for Homer Simpson and Al Bundy. Whose on your list?
Ramon, my husband and Wild Thing + Caterpillar's daddy, shooting Smuggled. 
I also have to say that another really cool thing about my boys having a filmmaker for a father is the videos he makes each year that highlight different, wonderful family moments. I LOVE that we have these gems. You can watch them (and other work by Ramon and our company, Think Ten Media Group, on our Vimeo page). 


  1. My hubby would like to add Big Fish to the list! :) He made me comment...LOL!

  2. Such fun movies! I really enjoyed the first one on his list. Pinned! ~mari

  3. My hubby would add "It's a Wonderful Life" Every year he makes us all sit down to watch it during the holidays. Great List Jennifer!

  4. Great list! I loved Annie, too :) I would add "Life Is Beautiful" and "Smoke Signals." The first is about a father who goes to extremes to help his son survive in terrible conditions, and the second is about a son learning to deal with the difficult relationship he has with his father. Also "Monsoon Wedding" - one of the story lines is about an adoptive father taking a stand to protect his adult daughter. To me these movies all show how relevant and important fathers are in children's lives, even when they are adults.

  5. I would agree with Lindsay (or at least her hubby) about Big Fish—it's a great imaginative tale. I also want to add 'We Built a Zoo", a simple (true) story of an adventurous dad. Just my two cents.


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