Five Movies Every Dad Should Watch

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Let’s be real here for a minute. Life sucks sometimes. Maybe you’re having car troubles and your barista forgot the shot of espresso in your morning java. Your boss is a jerk, the baby’s teething, the wife is dealing with her feminine issues, and you have to chose between mowing the lawn and hitting the gym. You don’t really want to do either, but you’ll regret not doing both later in the week.

To prevent from having a meltdown, we guys like to unwind by watching a movie. Every now and again Hollywood delivers a movie so profoundly close to home you would swear someone had been spying on you for the last few years. These movies teach us about ourselves and our fathers or warn us of what could happen if we don’t take this gig as a dad seriously. Here is our Top 5 movies every dad should watch, in no particular order.

 Big Daddy

Quite possibly Adam Sandler’s last truly great film, Big Daddy captures the ups and downs of what it would be like to have a kid – if you’ve never had one and realized that’s just not how it works – at all. Although not exactly a “how-to” fatherhood flick, the audience walks away with a few salient points about being a dad. For instance, if you don’t love your son he’ll turn into an anti-social goth and if money ever gets tight, you can save money on groceries by throwing your canned goods on the ground. Also, newspaper is an acceptable solution for any and all messes. All kidding aside, you realize that it takes a lot of work to be a good dad. You’ve got to feed and bathe a kid, but you’ve also gotta make sure he gets his homework done. Sandler does this all while keeping us laughing at his unorthodox parenting tactics.

The movie’s finest moment is the climax in the courtroom scene near the end of the movie. It’s here that we’re not only told, but also shown, what a good dad does. After explaining to his skeptical father how much he loves Julian, Sonny convinces him that he’s going to do what he himself is doing at that very moment – loving and protecting his son. With not a dry eye in the house, father and son share a manly hug while all of the guys in the courtroom start calling up their fathers to say, “I love you.” When it comes to fatherhood, we should always have our kid’s back, we should love unconditionally – even if we disagree with their life choices, and we should always make the most out of Halloween.

 Warrior

I see you sitting there scratching your head. Why, you ask? Why should every dad see this movie? That’s easy; Warrior gives you a look at the things real men deal with on a daily basis. One review remarked, “The question of faith, forgiveness, trust and reconciliation are powerfully presented from a primarily masculine perspective, something most films do not understand or authentically present.”

On one hand, you have a dad who is literally fighting to keep a roof over his family’s head and put food on the table. As any dad can tell you, there is a unique fear that comes with looking at the bank statements and seeing red while trying to figure out how to make ends meet. From teaching high school during the day to submitting punks in the cage at night, Brendan sacrifices time and tears to keep his ship afloat.

On the other hand, you have a former Marine who went AWOL only to end up ironically being in position to save the life of a fellow Marine. Now trying to get enough money to fulfill a promise to provide for the family of his fallen friend in the Marine Corps, Tommy enters the same tournament his brother is competing in to save his house. Complicating matters is the broken relationship with their father, a former abusive alcoholic. Tommy asks his father to help him train for the tournament, but only under the condition that Paddy does not try to reconcile their relationship

The old man seeks forgiveness from his eldest son after finding God, but is met with skepticism. After informing Brendan that he’s been sober for over a thousand days, Paddy does receive forgiveness, but his son withholds trust. Think about that for a minute. How bad would it suck to screw up so bad that you have to beg for forgiveness? I’ve messed up before, and have asked my kids to forgive me, but I have yet to blow it that bad. I hope that remembering this scene will help us all to refrain from doing anything that would ever put us in this bad a situation.

We are men, brothers, sons, husbands, and fathers. Not one of these roles is left untouched in Warrior. It’s comforting to know you’re not the only one with a stack of bills piling up, a sometimes hectic home life, and a few dysfunctional relationships to work through. During the entirety of the movie you ask yourself, “What’s worth fighting for?” It’s only at the end that you realize your full answer.

 

The Family Man

It’s Christmas time when one of  New York’s most wealthy businessmen stops at a convenience and has his life changed forever. In short, The Family Man is a story of what might have been. Where would you find yourself if you had decided to stay instead of go, said yes instead of no? One unsuspecting bachelor is about to find out.

After his chance encounter with what appeared to be a common street thug, Jack returns home to his downtown penthouse suite. And then things get all supernatural. In the morning, he wakes up in bed next to his former sweetheart and now wife just before his daughter comes barging in. In a moment of panic, Cage’s character escapes the domestic madness in search of answers. Once he gets them, however, Jack begins to have a new outlook on life.

This film encourages fathers and husbands to appreciate their lot in life, to be thankful they have all that they do. Even the richest of men desire the very things that we enjoy each day: a loving wife, beautiful kids, and a warm home. The Family Man makes this list because it’s good for dads to realize how special their family is before it’s too late. Don’t take anything for granted, because it could be gone in an instant.

Courageous

“I don’t want to be a ‘good enough’ father.,” says the film’s protagonist, a well-meaning father of two. As I imagine many dads do, Adam Mitchell delights in his young daughter but struggles to connect with his teenage son. As much as he loves his kids, Mitchell sometimes can’t be bothered to go the extra mile for them. Suddenly, his outlook on fatherhood changes drastically, but only after experiencing a pain no man should ever have to endure. A drunk driver tragically kills the apple of his eye, the all too young daughter.

Faced with the reality that he will never get another chance to be her daddy again, our main character sets out to turn his lamentations into battle cries for dads dedicated to becoming better fathers. Enlisting a few of his closet friends, Mitchell signs a Resolution that he drafted in the aftermath of his daughter’s passing.

Courageous not only shares with the audience the cautionary tale of an average dad turned super dad, (It does that quite nicely, though, especially in Mitchell’s attempts to reconnect with his son and be the dad he needs) but also the story of a loving dad whose strict rules is the cause of much tension between him and his teenage daughter. As it all plays out, you’ll see the struggles of  several fathers, from various walks of life, and how they deal with what life throws their way. Some succeed. Others fail. Such is life.

If you need a little motivation to be more active in your child’s life or would just like to see that you’re not the only one who struggles to get through the day as a dad, then Courageous is for you. Guaranteed, you will have a better relationship with your kids after watching the movie.

Your Child’s Favorite

If I had a dollar for every time I watched Cars or Toy Story, I could afford to quit my real job. True story. Don’t get me wrong, I totally love watching the Disney Pixar classics, but seriously, a thousand freaking times?! Yeah, probably. Every chance you get to sit back and relax with your kids is a chance to bond with them doing something they like. They don’t yet realize that you could quote the entire movie verbatim at this point or that you’d probably rather watch the Best of PRIDE; they just know that daddy is taking an interest in something they love and cherish every minute of it. (Until they lose interest and go play with their toys while you sit there totally engrossed in the toy’s plight to get back to Andy before he moves)

Simply put, your kids will appreciate when you can make references to the movies they like best. They’ll be encouraged knowing you care enough about them to actually get to know them on their level. What town does Lighting McQueen finds himself stuck in? How about the name of that talkative blue fish from Nemo, what’s her name? Never underestimate the power of knowing the little things about your kids and their interests. Show your kids you’re willing to do stuff they like to do, create memories together, and keep doing so as long as they let you.

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