Saturday, June 02, 2012


In honor of Father's Day, I've been thinking of films worth seeing that feature dads as important characters. Heading my list are movies about a teller of tall tales, a British lord, an efficiency expert, and two uncles who serve as surrogate fathers to their young nephew.

Albert Finney and Billy Crudup play father and son in BIG FISH, a whimsical film about a man who tells the same fantastic stories over and over again -- so much so that he alienates his son. After finding out that his father (Finney) is dying, the estranged son (Crudup) visits him and finally realizes he can learn who his father really is through the tales he relates. Even with a dark theme like this, BIG FISH manages to be light-hearted and amusing -- a film infused with humor and heart.

WHAT A GIRL WANTS contains a splendid performance by Colin Firth as a British Lord who must deal with a rambunctious daughter he never knew he had. She's an American teenager (Amanda Bynes) who teaches her new-found stuffy father not only how to have a bit of fun but also the importance of being true to yourself. Watching these two very different individuals interact with each other is great fun.

In CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN, Steve Martin shines as the father of 12 children. He portrays a busy efficiency expert who's not particularly efficient when it comes to taking care of his raucous kids, especially during his wife's (Bonnie Hunt) absence. It's a treat to see Martin's comic antics such as growling like a monster at the youngest or delivering a funny eulogy at a pet's funeral. Despite an emphasis on comedy, this movie delivers a serious message: listen to your children – no matter how busy you are. 

Although Michael Caine and Robert Duvall are uncles, not fathers, in SECONDHAND LIONS, their characters serve as father figures for the abandoned nephew placed in their charge. These two eccentric recluses help change the sad boy placed in their charge (Haley Joel Osment) into a young man with lots to smile about. Duvall’s famous "what it takes to be a man" speech is a classic film moment. "Whether certain things are true or not, it's important to believe in them," Duvall says. His "certain things" list includes the value of honor, virtue, courage, and a belief that true love never dies. I think that’s wise advice any father should consider passing on to his son.

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