Nothing says quality time with your dad like watching a movie together. Well, going fishing does. But second to fishing, you’re not going to find anything better. At least you can tell yourself that when your dad asks if you want to go fishing and you suggest watching a movie instead.
There are rules for picking a movie to watch with your dad. You’re not going to want to watch Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, for example. Dear old dad wants to see explosions and stoic heroes, not whatever they have in the pants movie. Actually, he would rather go fishing, but we already covered that. Look: To make this easier on you, here’s a list of six movies to watch with your dad, and one movie not to.
Movies in the ‘Yes’ Column
Lethal Weapon (1, 2, and 3)
All the movies in this series are safe bets because your dad–even though he’s probably not a police detective–identifies with Murtaugh and Riggs. He feels like he’s getting too old for this s***. He feels like the world is full of bad guys trying to kill him. And he feels like Danny Glover and Mel Gibson every time he makes it through another day, beaten and bruised.
Your dad identifies with Michael Corleone more than you may want to know. There he was, minding his own young and happy business, blissfully ignorant of what it must be like to be the ranking male figure in a crime syndicate (or family). Then, wham, before he knew it he got sucked right in. For at least as long as you’ve been alive, he has been thrust into the family business. And while your dad’s situation was more along the lines of changing diapers than whacking people, in his mind it was always the same. This movie gets bonus points because every aging father secretly wants the power and respect of Marlon Brando’s character.
The Shawshank Redemption
Your dad relates to Andy Dufresne all too well. Andy faces lifelong imprisonment for a crime he did not commit, in a prison run by a cruel warden and populated with villains. Andy patiently plans his escape, and in the end, he gets to hang out on a quiet beach – far away from the warden and villains – and fix up an old sailboat. Plus, the whole thing is narrated by Morgan Freeman. What about this can’t your dad relate to? Doesn’t he, after a lifetime of family commitments, just want to relax and tinker with things? Isn’t his life secretly narrated by Morgan Freeman?
Ernest Goes to Jail
Here’s another movie about a man wrongfully imprisoned who escapes. This time, it’s humorous, and the humor is Grade A Cornball – just what dads are into. Unless your dad is not into Jim Varney’s brand of humor. Then maybe pick something from the Marx brothers instead.
Dads of a certain age are all about war movies – specifically, movies about the war in Vietnam. You might not get the chance to hear much of this movie as you watch it with your dad; he’ll finally see the chance to share his encyclopedic knowledge of the conflict with a captive audience.
Here’s a multiple-choice question. Do dads love to watch Jaws because (a) it’s an awesome movie, (b) your dad spent part of his life fantasizing about going off to sea, (c) the shark represents the demands of a lifetime of fatherhood, or (d) your dad self-identifies as an unsung hero? Hint: The answer is (e) all of the above.
The Movie in the ‘No’ Column
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Surprised that this is the #1 movie not to watch with your dad? Were you expecting Steel Magnolias instead? While there’s a good chance your dad can relate to the historical setting of this movie, you can bet money that things are going to get awkward when he casually asks you: “So what drugs have YOU experimented with?”
In closing, the important thing is not so much what you watch with your dad; it’s the fact that you’re spending quality time with your dad in the first place. And don’t forget to send him a card on Father’s Day (or search online and find companies that will send personalized father’s day ecards for you). It’s the least you can do for not going fishing with him.