Let’s face it, when it comes to Father’s Day, most dads would tell you that less is more. Not that they resent celebration, it’s just that, a simple meal, a fishing trip, or moments spent on the couch with the kids watching a movie can be as great a gift as any. More often than not, our fathers are more appreciative of the simple joy and pleasures of life, so should we.
No two dads are the same, yet we love them all. From ruthless Sith Lord turned galactic savior to genetically engineered superhero who happens to be retired, Hollywood has done its part in giving us all types of dads. This Father’s Day, we at August Man Malaysia has put together a list of movies that features some of the best dads of the silver screen for you to watch with your own.
THE LION KING (1994)
Often regarded as one of the greatest animated films ever made, it is insane that The Lion King was passed on by many animators at the time of its production. Not having much faith in the project, many of the animators at Disney were opting to focus on Pocahontas instead.
Groundbreaking, endearing, and at times heartbreaking, The Lion King is without a doubt one of Disney’s most enduring and exceptional productions. Mufasa may have met his demise during the end of the film’s first act, but his presence is very much what drives the entire plot of the film.
The Lion King may have been about Simba’s journey in finding his place in the circle of life, but Mufasa’s voice was what guides him to that destination. With a live action remake on its way, it’s safe to say that The Lion King’s immense success is still felt today after 24 years since its release.
Trivia: The Lion King was originally titled The King of the Jungle. Fortunately, someone realized that lions don’t actually live in jungles, and so the title was changed. The tagline still lived on in some of the film’s marketing, though.
Few actors are as synonymous with the roles they play as Hugh Jackman is with Wolverine. For 17 years, Jackman is Wolverine. So when Logan finally hit theatres, it was no surprise that Jackman’s final outing as everyone’s favourite mutant was released to immense box office success.
While Logan is a captivating Hollywood piece of R-rated entertainment, the film’s true strength lies in its central message on the importance and necessity of fatherhood. In Logan, Logan’s tough persona is put to challenge by his loyalty for Charles Xavier (Patrick Steward) as well as his need to protect his daughter, Laura (Dafne Keen). He reluctantly accepts his duty, as Laura is an experiment like what he once was, who knows almost nothing about the world aside from killing.
Throughout the X-Men films, Logan’s greatest weakness has always been attachment. Befitting considering that he has witnessed the death of the ones he loved (Multiple times considering the muddled timeline of the Fox Marvel universe). Yet in Logan, we find him fighting for his family in a fatherly way. In the character’s final cinematic chapter, we see Logan embracing his biggest fear, and it becomes his greatest source of strength.
Trivia: When Laura and Charles are watching Shane, Charles mentions remembering seeing the film as a child in his hometown. This was entirely improvised by Sir Patrick Stewart, because Shane was one of the first memories he had at the theater as a child.
THE GODFATHER (1972)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The 1972 gangster epic tells the story of powerful Italian-American crime family of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando). When the don’s youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino) reluctantly joins the mafia, he becomes more involved and is drawn deeper into an endless cycle of violence and betrayal.
The Godfather succeeds in its breathtaking cinematography, a suspenseful script, as well as delivering some of cinema’s most intricate characters. At its core, The Godfather is a story about fathers and sons, a tale about the importance of family and what it truly means. Despite the many hardships that Vito and Michael faced, there’s nothing else that matters more to them than family.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made. The Godfather was nominated for an astounding number of ten Academy Awards, winning three (Including Best Picture and Best Actor). Complex, thrilling and downright iconic, The Godfather continues to remain the gold standard for great cinema.
Trivia: Whenever oranges appear in the film, they foreshadow death or a near death involving the Corleone family.
DEFINITELY, MAYBE (2008)
Definitely, Maybe is an unconventional romantic comedy that poses itself as a “mystery film”. Following a divorce, Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself explaining his past to his daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslin). In doing so, he traces the story of his past romances with three different women, leaving Maya as well as the audience to find out who the mother really is.
Just as much as Definitely, Maybe is a story about romantic love, it’s also a story that illustrates the bond between fathers and daughters. In the film, we see Maya accepting Will’s past for the type of person that he was, despite not living up to her expectations. Despite being a lighthearted romantic comedy, Definitely, Maybe does a spectacular job in painting the reality of divorce with a sense of regret and sadness, a direction that’s not often seen in movies within its genre.
Trivia: The deli that Will (Ryan Reynolds) buys his cigarettes is called Two Guys. Ryan Reynolds previously starred in the series Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.
RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)
“I am your father”. The line that stunned moviegoers all around the world in The Empire Strikes Back, so shouldn’t that movie have more reasons to be on the list than Return of the Jedi? The Empire Strikes Back may have revealed the true identity of Darth Vader, but it was Return of the Jedi that made him a more interesting and intricate character.
In Return of the Jedi, Vader’s conflict is on full display. Unwilling to let his son perish at the hands of the Emperor, Vader ultimately sacrifices his own life to save his son. Vader died rediscovering the joy of fatherhood, and it was his sacrifice and love that restored the galaxy to peace and order, marking the true return of the Jedi. Not only does the sacrifice and redemption of Darth Vader mark the climax of the original trilogy, it’s also one of the most memorable and satisfying moments in film history.
Towards the end, Vader is able to redeem himself through the love and forgiveness of his son. As George Lucas said, “Only through the love of his children and the compassion of his children, who believe in him, though he’s a monster, does he redeem himself.”
Trivia: George Lucas included the scene in which Yoda confirms Darth Vader is Luke’s father because, after a discussion with a children’s psychologist, he didn’t want younger viewers to dismiss Vader’s claim as a lie.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (2006)
The Pursuit of Happyness tells the true story of a struggling single father Chris Gardner (Will Smith), who tries his best to provide for his child despite working an unpaid internship and being evicted from his apartment. Attempting to build a better life and future, Gardner is determined to face the obstacles that life throws at him in his pursuit of true happiness.
Starring real life father and son duo Will and Jaden Smith, the pair excels with great chemistry, delivering unforgettable performances that’s destined to be remembered. In one heart stirring scene, Chris makes a game out of having to sleep in a train station bathroom because they’re homeless. The Pursuit of Happyness is a film that makes you appreciate the hardships of fatherhood.
Heartwarming, delightful and profound, The Pursuit of Happyness shines in that it never shies away from the difficulties and trials in life while delivering a great story about the limitless love of a father.
Trivia: The homeless people, who worked as extras, received a full day’s pay at minimum wage ($8.62 per hour) and free catered meals. For some, it was the first money they had made in a while.
KRAMER VS. KRAMER (1979)
Culturally significant for reflecting society during a time when perceptions of fatherhood and motherhood are shifting. Directed by Robert Benton, Kramer vs. Kramer paints the story of father Ted (Dustin Hoffman), who is shocked when he learns that his wife Joanna (Meryl Streep) is leaving him in order to “find herself.” She is also leaving their young son Billy (Justin Henry) to his care.
Masterfully crafted with Hoffman and Streep’s incredible take on the characters, as well as a timeless premise, the Academy Award winning film went to great lengths to give equal weight to Joanna and Ted’s points of view. The film urges its audience to ask questions like “Can men be as good parents as women, and should women gain child’s custody by default?” Kramer vs. Kramer makes sure that the audience sees that whatever the answer is, it is always the child who loses.
Kramer vs. Kramer is the perfect example whereby filmmakers take seemingly simple premise, with enough care and heart, does not only hold our attention, but also reveals profound messages about humanity and reality.
Trivia: The famous ice-cream scene, where Billy challenges his father by skipping dinner and going straight for dessert, was completely improvised by both Dustin Hoffman and Justin Henry. Director Robert Benton liked the scene so much that he decided to keep it in the film.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)
Based on Harper Lee’s renowned novel, Robert Mulligan’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird is widely recognized as one of the greatest films ever made. Despite being released more than five decades ago, the film’s approach and view towards real world issues such as racial equality and rape are still relevant to this day. To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of a widowed lawyer and father of two named Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) who’s assigned to defend a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman.
The film’s enormous critical and financial success can in a large part attribute to Peck’s impeccable performance as Atticus Finch. He’s authoritative, yet full of warmth. To Kill a Mockingbird also opts to tell the story through the eyes of Finch’s daughter, Scout (Mary Badham), allowing the audience to view Atticus Finch as, first and foremost, a father.
Peck would eventually win an Academy Award for the role of Atticus Finch, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s the type of father every man aspires to be, and the kind of man every father hopes to live up to.
Trivia: Gregory Peck’s nine-minute summation speech was nailed in just one attempt.
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (2016)
What does it mean to be a good parent? Is it doing what you can so your child is ready for the world? But what if you think society is a failure, do you then try to pass on that philosophy to your children?
Captain Fantastic tells the story of Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) and his family, who chooses to live deep in the wilderness of Washington state. Isolated from the outside world, Ben and Leslie (Trin Miller) devote themselves to raise their kids — educating them to think critically, guiding them in the wild without technology and demonstrating the beauty of co-existing with nature. When Leslie dies suddenly, Ben must take his sheltered children into society for the first time.
While challenging the society’s perception on family, Captain Fantastic does an admirable task in exploring the merits of homeschooling and parental rights. Through its thought provoking themes and a stellar performance from Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic is a compelling piece of drama that’s bound to resonate deeply with a lot of families.
Trivia: Director Matt Ross revealed that over the course of filming, the group of children came to call Viggo Mortensen “Summer Dad”.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)
Three years ago the disastrous fifth and latest entry in the Terminator franchise was released to underwhelming results. Terminator Genisys solidified the franchise’s reputation as a silly, non-serious piece of entertainment. As saddening as it may sound, it’s perhaps hard for moviegoers of today to fathom that the franchise was at one point one of the most promising sci-fi franchises out there.
Following the success of the first movie, James Cameron returns to the directing chair for Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Like Aliens, Judgement Day is an enthralling blockbuster that transcends the first movie with groundbreaking visual effects, impressive direction, as well as endearing moments between characters that ultimately makes the movie a timeless classic.
In Judgement Day, an underlying theme that can be found is that mentorship doesn’t always have to run from senior to junior. Despite being an action heavy film, Judgement Day spends a huge chunk of its runtime with the Terminator learning from the boy he guards. Through incredible direction, Cameron develops the dynamics of T-800 and John Connor into a father-son relationship almost unexpectedly yet emotionally fulfilling.
Trivia: Given Arnold Schwarzenegger’s US $15 million salary, and his total of seven hundred words of dialogue, he was paid $21,429 per word. “Hasta la vista, baby” cost $85,716.
Read also: 10 Watches to Spend on Your Dad in June