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Father's Day Films


The arrival of Father's Day is often preceded with a deluge of flyers advertising fishing tackle, camping gear and power tools. If you are game for hours in a boat, wilderness survival, or helping out with those household renovations, then these suggestions may be perfect for celebrating this special occasion.


In our home however, no one (including Dad) wants to kill a cute little fish, travel too far away from a flush toilet, or dig into any of those fixer-upper projects (I think I'm a better handyman than he is anyway). So we look for a quieter, gentler approach to showing our appreciation: We watch movies together!


Just in case any of the rest of you might also appreciate this kind of activity, may I recommend the following titles, which explore the many facets of fatherhood.


Fathers and Daughters:

Daughters have a special ability to charm their way into a father's heart.  Such is the case with a youngster that talks her Dad into rescuing an injured horse in Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story. Others who are obviously the "apple of their father's eye" include Nim (from Nim's Island) and Meggie (of Inkheart), the little girls of two men who have lost their wives. Even a big, tough football player can't stop his Game Plan from being totally turned around by the arrival of something "pretty in pink". 


Girls Only:

Some fathers are blessed with all daughters! At least, that's the way Tevye describes his plight as the parent of five females in Fiddler on the Roof. More contemporary dads face challenges with their girls in Dan in Real Life (a widower walking his brood through the maze of adolescence) and Grace is Gone (where a dad searches for away to break the unbearable news of his wife's death to their two daughters).


Wedding Woes:

For many fathers, the hardest thing they will ever do is to give their daughters away in marriage. First of all, no man ever seems good enough (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner), and then there is the cost of the nuptials (Father of the Bride).


Parenting Problems:

Not all children understand their fathers. Bridging the generation gap gets some help from the animal kingdom in Fly Away Home (about a young girl who bonds more easily with a gaggle of abandoned geese than her estranged dad), and Because of Winn Dixie (the tale of a stray dog, a neglected child and a grieving father). Sometimes the communication problems lie in the fierce love of over-protective parents, as seen in Flicka (where a teen and a wild horse feel this constraint may break their spirit).


Fathers and Sons:

A clash of wills occurs between a father and son in October Sky, because one has rocket dreams, while the other has his feet firmly planted in the more practical career aspirations of coalmining. Another boy and his dad work out their differences by building a project together in Kart Racer. Expectations can also take a toll on relationships, as in the films The Lion King (where a son fears disappointing his father) and Resurrecting the Champ (where a father fears disappointing his son).


The Bread Winner:

The responsibility of providing for their families isn't always an easy task. The time he's spent away from home while earning a living leaves a suddenly unemployed father needing to reconnect with himself, his wife and his son in On A Clear Day.  A comical look at the midlife crisis of a dad who has been working at a job he hates is found in The Incredibles.  


A Pillar of Strength:

When it comes to having someone to lean on, dads are great! A father does all he can to provide food and shelter for his child in The Pursuit of Happyness, despite severe financial difficulties. To protect his son from the horrors of the holocaust, an optimistic and imaginative Jewish papa pretends it's all a game and that Life is Beautiful. In the classic To Kill a Mockingbird, a father stands firm and teaches his children all men should be treated equally even though prejudiced surrounds them.


Father Figures:

Some children don't have a dad in their lives. Fortunately, there are men willing to step into this position for children who are not their own. Fatherless boys find good role models in a schoolteacher (Pay it Forward), an eccentric neighbor (Hearts in Atlantis) and some aging relatives (Secondhand Lions).


Whether you're a sportsman, an avid camper, a wonderful woodworker or a couch-dwelling movie man (like the one I married), I wish all dads everywhere a Happy Father's Day. As the many stories put to film show, you do an awful lot for all of us. We couldn't (and wouldn't want to) do it without you.


Donna Gustafson

Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previews - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.

Parenting and the Media by Rod Gustafson

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org

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