A few months ago I was watching “Finding Nemo” with Lukas when I began to realize that this is one of the best stories about a father-son relationship thatHollywoodhas ever seen. That’s when it hit me, what is the best father-son movie of all-time?
I quickly emailed my good friend Cory and asked him to compile a list of the movies he thought were good “father-son” movies. I knew Cory would come up with a good list as we both have the same taste in movies. The goal was to come up with a good-size list then vote on the top 10 Father-Son movies of all-time. After coming up with a list I decided to hold off until Father’s Day before voting for the final 10.
Last week, with Father’s Day approaching, Cory and I compiled a list then came up with our top 10. After receiving both of our lists we decided to branch it out asking our wives. From there I asked my family and friends and after receiving votes from 15 people I have come up with the top 10 “Father-Son” movies of all-time.
Quick note about the voting…everyone ranked their top 10 and I gave individual points for each rank. For instance, No. 1 got 10 points, No. 2 got nine and so on and so forth. Also, some of these movies are not father-son movies because when you ask daughters (females) they find other movies that are about fathers but not about father-son relationships. Thus we have “Father of the Bride” cracking the top 10.
Without further ado I give you the top 10 “Father-Son-Whatever” films of all-time (or at least the ones that we could think of):
No. 10 – Life is Beautiful
Directed by: Roberto Benigni. Starring: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini.
Total Points: 33 (Highest Rank No. 1. Named on four ballots, never ranking lower than fifth. Kevy’s No. 5).
Plot Outline (from IMDB.com): A Jewish man has a wonderful romance with the help of his humor, but must use that same quality to protect his son in a Nazi death camp.
This is a terrific father-son movie and a wonderful film. The reason its No. 10 was because just four people voted for it (three out of the four put it in their top three). It’s an Italian movie that is subtitled which may draw people off, but it’s a beautiful movie about a father taking care of his son while in a Jewish concentration camp. He protects his son by making a game out of the Holocaust and that the final prize is a tank. Rent it, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll love it.
Academy Awards: Best Actor (Benigni); Best Foreign Language Film; Best Music – Original Dramatic Score.
No. 9 – Father of the Bride (1991 version)
Directed by: Charles Shyer. Starring: Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams.
Total Points: 36 (Highest Rank No. 2. Named on five ballots, ranking no lower than fifth. Not ranked on Kevy’s ballot).
Plot Outline: George and Nina Banks are the parents of young soon-to-be-wed Annie. George is a nervous father unready to face the fact that his little girl is now a woman.
As mentioned above, not a father-son movie but since I asked a few daughters to help out with the voting it cracked the top 10. Nevertheless, this is a sweet movie. Steve Martin is great and Kimberly Williams is adorable. Name the top 10 father-daughter movies and I’m sure this will be No. 1.
Academy Awards: none.
No. 8 – Pinocchio
Directed by: Hamilton Luske and Ben Sharpsteen. Starring: Geppetto, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket.
Total Points: 39 (Highest Rank No. 2. Named on nine ballots, ranking ninth twice. Sixth on Kevy’s ballot).
Plot Outline: A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy.
A Disney classic! Geppetto wishes the son he made was a real boy and the wish is granted by a fairy. However, Pinocchio gets himself into trouble and Geppetto has to save him. Sorry, my description is so vague, it’s been a while since I’ve seen this movie.
Academy Awards: Best Original Score, Best Original Song, “When You Wish Upon a Star”
No. 7 – Lion King
Directed by: Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff. Starring the voices of: Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones,Nathan Lane.
Total Points: 46 (Highest Rank No. 1. Named on nine ballots, ranking seventh four times. Not ranked on Kevy’s ballot).
Plot Outline: Tricked into thinking he killed his father, a guilt ridden lion cub flees into exile and abandons his identity as the future King.
Another Disney flick and another movie I don’t remember all the details about. I know Simba runs away after thinking he killed his son and I know he ends up becoming the king. I also know it was a very good movie and had the good phrase “Hakuna Matata” which means “No Worries”.
Academy Awards: Best Original Score, Best Original Song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”.
No. 6 – Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Directed by: Richard Marquand. Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, R2-D2.
Total Points: 48 (Highest Rank No. 1 (twice). Named on seven ballots, ranking ninth twice. Fourth on Kevy’s ballot).
Plot Outline: After rescuing Han Solo from thepalaceofJabbathe Hutt, the Rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke Skywalker tries to bring his father back from the dark side of the Force.
Yes, a Star Wars movie cracked the top 10 and yes, it definitely deserves to be there. When thinking of my top 10 father-son movies I thought of the films that made me emotional when the father-son conflict/story arose. This movie does that for me. When Luke says, “I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me” to when Darth Vader destroys the Emperor, thus saving his son’s life, who in turn saved his father’s life, this movie makes me emotional. You have to look beyond the lightsabers, spaceships, droids and other geekiness to see that the true story of this wonderful trilogy is about the relationship between a father and a son.
Academy Awards: Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects.
No. 5 – John Q
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes. Starring: Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall and James Woods.
Total Points: 49 (Highest Rank No. 1. Named on seven ballots and lowest rank was eighth. Kevy’s No. 3).
Plot Outline: A down-on-his luck father, whose insurance won’t cover his son’s heart transplant, takes the hospital’s emergency room hostage until the doctors agree to perform the operation.
Why this movie isn’t ranked even higher, I’m not sure. Maybe people didn’t see it or remember it, but this is truly a movie about a father’s love for his son. John Q. (Denzel) holds a hospital hostage until his dying son can receive a heart transplant. John Q. is even willing to kill himself to save his son’s life. Denzel is terrific (better than his Oscar-winning Training Day performance) and the movie is a tense, yet touching story about a father trying to save his son’s life. Is there no better example of a father-son story than that?
Academy Awards: none.
No. 4 -Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Directed by: Steven Spielberg. Starring: Harrison Ford and Sean Connery.
Total Points: 50 (Highest Rank No. 1. Named on eight ballots, lowest rank seventh. Not ranked on Kevy’s ballot).
Plot Outline: The daring archaeologist and his father search for the Holy Grail and fight the Nazis.
Again, I movie I don’t really remember. I know Sean Connery is brilliant as Indiana Jones dad, Professor Henry Jones. Indiana has to save his father from the Nazis who have kidnapped him. A fun and exciting movie that deals with the father-son relationship with good humor.
Academy Awards: Best Sound Effects Editing.
No. 3 – A River Runs Through It
Directed by: Robert Redford. Starring: Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt and Craig Sheffer.
Total Points: 59 (Highest Rank No. 2. Named on 10 ballots, lowest rank nine. Ranked eighth on Kevy’s ballot).
Plot Outline: Two fly-fishing sons of a Presbyterian minister–one reserved, one rebellious–grow up in rural Montana.
Yet again, I don’t remember much about this movie other than it was beautifully directed by Robert Redford and it dealt with two sons and their father. It was based on a true story and was a novel written by Norman Maclean. This is a movie I’d like to see again – very soon. Here is a line I found from the movie spoken by one of the brothers: As time passed, my father struggled for more to hold on to, asking me again and again: had I told him everything. And finally I said to him, “maybe all I know about Paul is that he was a fine fisherman.” “You know more than that,” my father said; “he was beautiful.” And that was the last time we spoke of my brother’s death.
Academy Awards: Best Cinematography.
No. 2 – Finding Nemo
Directed by: Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich. Starring the voices of: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, and William Defoe.
Total Points: 67 (Highest Rank No. 1. Named on 11 ballots, lowest rank 10. Ranked No. 1 on Kevy’s ballot).
Plot Outline: father-son underwater adventure featuring Nemo, a boy clown fish, stolen from his coral reef home. His timid father must then search the ocean to find him.
My pick for No. 1. Maybe because when Lukas began to watch this on a daily basis we were still dealing with Lis and her treatments for leukemia. I thought about what it would be like if I lost her and I saw myself as Marlin the clown fish and Lukas was my Nemo. Like Marlin I would be overbearing and wouldn’t allow him to go out and do things on his own. Eventually you have to let go, which Marlin finds it tough to do. After Nemo is taken away from him, Marlin does everything he can to search the entire ocean to find his son (who is alive in a dentist’s fish tank). Marlin embodies what a father is and should be. A very loving and caring person who will stop at nothing to find and rescue his son. Yes, we’re talking about animated fish, but this movie is the pinnacle of what a father-son film is all about. I love this movie and I love the story. It’s not just a kids movie (as you can tell as it was voted for the most). It’s colorful, it’s funny, it’s amusing, it’s great.
Academy Awards: Best Animated Feature.
No. 1 – Field of Dreams
Directed by: Phil Alden Robinson. Starring: Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta.
Total Points: 68 (Highest Rank No. 1. Named on nine ballots, ranked as low as eighth. No. 2 on Kevy’s ballot).
Plot Outline: An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago Black Sox arrive.
A father-son movie? You don’t understand? It’s just a baseball movie right? Right. A baseball movie about a voice-hearing crazy farmer who builds a ballfield on his farm! Yep, but why does it build that farm. No, its not so that the 1919 Chicago White Sox (known as the Black Sox because they threw the World Series) can come back and get some swings in. No. “If you build it he will come” means that if Ray builds the field his father will come back and they will be reunited for one last game of catch. The father and son had fought throughout their childhood and the son did everything different then the father had wished. Eventually the father passed away and the son never got to tell him the he loved him or show him his family. This movie delivers two of my favorite movie lines of all-time. There’s the speech that James Earl Jones’ character Terence Mann gives about baseball that begins with “People will come Ray…” and then there’s the line that makes me teary-eyed every time I hear it.
Ray: Hey…Dad? (choked up) You wanna have a catch?
John: I’d like that.
For every baseball-loving father that had a son they know that having a catch with your son is a moment that you’ll cherish forever (or should). I get excited when Lukas and I bounce the ball back and forth with each other and I look forward to the first time I “have a catch” with my son.
There you have it the top 10 father-son movies of all-time as voted on by: Kevin, Lis, Cory, Hillary, Susan, Dennis, Sue, Heidi, Mom, Grandma, Debbie, Randy, Dad, Grandpa, and Erik. Thank you for all participating. I love spreadsheets so it was fun compiling this list.
Oh, you want to know what other movies barely made the cut? Here you go with No’s 11 thru 20: The Patriot (32 points), Big Daddy (32), Coupe de Ville (32)…quick thought on Coupe de Ville. If you haven’t seen this movie starring Alan Alda, Daniel Stern and Patrick Dempsey, watch it. The Johnson family loves this movie because it’s the story of three brothers/sons (like me and my two brothers). The father tells the sons to meet up (for the first time in five years) and then drive the car from Michigan to Miami for their mom’s birthday. We love this movie and I love the line the dad says “We all got together”. It got four votes and three of the votes were No. 1 picks (Mom, Dad and Randy).
Back to the list…rounding out the top 20 were: The Godfather (29), It’s a Wonderful Life (29), Big Fish (20), Frequency (19), Father Knows Best (17), The Best Years of Our Lives (17), Mr. Mom (20).
If you disagree or have a film you think deserves some recognition please leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you and get some suggestions.
Oh and Happy Father’s Day to those that are fathers. Ours went well, the highlight of my Father’s Day was the nap that I took with my son this afternoon. He woke up from his nap early so I got him out of bed and walked him into the computer room and we laid on the bed together, fell asleep and drooled like crazy for an hour. It was sweet.