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Four Years at the Mount

Junior Year

Fatherís Day Films

Michael Kenney Jr.
MSN Class of 2019

"Luke, I am your father" -Darth Vader, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

(6/2017) After the golf clubs are set aside, his Bass Pro Shop gift card is spent, and the grill cools down, must Fatherís Day come to a close? Of course not! This year, cap off the traditional Fatherís Day agenda with a celebration of cinemaís greatest fathers. I encourage you to pop some popcorn, sit down with your dad and enjoy some of the best Fatherís Day films of all time.

If you can only carve out enough time for one film this Fatherís Day, I would highly recommend the 2005 sports drama, Cinderella Man. Based on an impressively true story, the film follows the underdog Irish-American boxer, J.J. Braddock (Russell Crowe). It follows his fight to provide for his family and seize the heavyweight title amidst the hard-hit streets of New Jersey during the Great Depression. Through victory and heartbreak, the story celebrates the role of fatherhood as an enduring position of strength, resilience, loyalty and ómost of allólove. Braddock epitomizes fatherhood and provides an inspiring example of ideal masculinity.

The 2000 film The Patriot earns another high spot on my list of Fatherís Day favorites as it advocates for the same style of the fatherhood that Cinderella Man presents. As a legendary French and Indian War veteran, widower and father of seven children, Francis Marion (Mel Gibson) gains a greater appreciation for his children and sister-in-law as he risks everything to protectóand eventually avengeóhis sons throughout the Revolutionary War. Like Cinderella Manís Braddock, Marion hones his cleverness, morality and sheer strength to defend his family and as a result, represents an archetypal father.

The 1997 Italian film Life is Beautiful drives home an equally respectable portrayal of fatherhood. The film tells the tale of a free-spirited, Jewish librarian named Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni) living in 1939 Italy. When Orefice and his son are captured and placed in a concentration camp, the father uses his wit, imagination and kind heart in his attempts to preserve his childís innocence. The film illustrates the profound inspiration men have in exuding courageous joy, particularly in the face of abject circumstances. Nominated for seven Academy Award, the film promises cinematic excellence alongside its powerful message.

To pay comedies their due respect, Mrs. Doubtfire, Cheaper by the Dozen ,and Cheaper by the Dozen 2 promote the idea of the attentive father. While some critics may suggest that both films flirt with the clichťd "bumbling father" caricature, the protagonists should not be hastily categorized. Each father undergoes significant character arcs and, similarly to Life is Beautifulís Orefice, the fathersí humor often plays a significant, intentional role in easing family tensions encouraging familial unity.

In the 1993 Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) plays a goofy voice actor who struggles to hold down a job. When his no-nonsense wife Miranda (Sally Field) divorces him, Daniel, is who is unemployed and without a fit home, is deemed an ill-fit father and thus has no custody over his two children. With the visitation rights in place Daniel struggles to spend time with his children. With the help of friends and his skills as a former voice actor he concocts a false identity as a stout sixty-year-old nanny named Mrs. Doubtfire. Miranda hires Mrs. Doubtfire, giving Daniel practically full access to his children. As a nanny, Daniel gains a unique perspective into his childrenís lives and consequently realizes his faults as a father and former husband. Daniel works diligently to reverse his mistakes with humor and humility. Mrs. Doubtfire is a worthy addition to your list of Fatherís Day hopefuls because, while allowing for uproarious family fun, the film illustrate the ridiculous extent of a fatherís love. Mrs. Doubtfire renders a particularly honorable example of a father in a broken marriage because, while Daniel continues to pursue Miranda and tries to rectify their relationship, he always respects his former wife and never allows his bitterness to interfere with his relationship with his children.

The fatherhood presented both in Cheaper by the Dozen and Cheaper by the Dozen 2 allows for light-hearted family fun and conveys the serious impact that a father has on his familyís well-being. In the first of the series, Tom earns his dream job, forcing his family to move, just as his wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt) prepares for the release of her projected bestseller. As Kate embarks on her nation-wide book tour, Tom juggles the demands of his new job, a new neighborhood and his rambunctious twelve children. Ultimately, Tom must choose between the luxuries of his dream job and the welfare of his kids. In Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Tom finds himself again in a similar situation. Tempted by his paternal pride, Tom hopes defeat his long-time rival in the Annual Labor Day Family Cup. Yet again, he is forced to choose between bolstering his ego or aiding his family. Both Cheaper by the Dozen and Cheaper by the Dozen 2 illustrate the power of a father who surrenders his professional and personal ambition for the welfare of his family and the raw joy that comes from building unique relationships with each individual child.

Looking for more Fatherís Day films? Rounding out my Fatherís Day favorites include Finding Nemo, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Way, The Godfather, The Lion King series, the Taken series, and my dadís personal favoriteóMadagascar: Escape 2 Africa. So this Fatherís Day, surprise your dad with an evening of films dedicated to him and the unique role of fathers everywhere.

Read other articles by Michael Kenney Jr.