"Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father." -- Darth Vader to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Father's Day is this Sunday and it will be my first one as a new dad. Here are my recommendations for films in which fatherhood has an integral role.
1. Field of Dreams -- The scene in which Kevin Costner's character plays catch with the ghost of his dad always chokes me up. Great film that captures the nostalgic allure of baseball.
2. The Godfather -- Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece gives new meaning to the word "Family." In a movie full of memorable moments from beginning to end, one of my favorites is when Michael (played by the young Al Pacino) has to improvise and save his hospitalized father Don Corleone from being rubbed out by hitmen.
3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade -- The third Indy film was my favorite after Raiders of the Lost Ark, mostly because of the wonderful dynamic between father and son played by Sean Connery and Harrison Ford on a reluctant quest together to find the legendary holy grail.
4. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back -- The classic "I am your father" twist is reason alone to watch the movie, but Luke Skywalker faces paternal figures throughout the film, not just from foreboding Darth Vader but also from the astral appearances of Ben Kenobi and the wise tutoring of Yoda.
5. The Princess Bride -- A funny film directed by Rob Reiner and written by the great William Goldman, the best part is definitely the Mandy Patinkin subplot in which he seeks vengeance for his dad's murder -- "I am Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
6. Superman: The Movie -- Still one of the best superhero movies of all time. Marlon Brando dialed in his performance as the Man of Steel's Kryptonian pop, Jor-El, but it's a testament to his brilliance that the role is still powerful as he sends his only son, the last survivor of a dying world, to Earth to become its new savior. Then, when Clark's adopted dad Jonathon Kent kicks the bucket, it's one of the key moments in the character's moral formation, and one of the most subtle yet powerful scenes in cinema -- "All these powers, and I still couldn't save him."
7. Nine Months -- This is an underrated comedy by director Chris Columbus, with Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore, Tom Arnold, Joan Cusack, Jeff Goldblum, and an outrageous Robin Williams rounding out a fun cast and a charming story about an unexpected pregnancy.
8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan -- James Tiberius Kirk, galaxy-hopping womanizer, discovers that he has a grown son, and starts feeling old, but then after a terrific adventure in which he loses his best friend, he feels young again. Best Trek film ever.
9. Hamlet -- There have been many adaptations of William Shakespeare's tragedy in which a conflicted Dane is driven by the ghost of his slain father to seek vengeance on his usurping uncle. My pick is the Mel Gibson version directed by Franco Zeffirelli.
10. Rocky V -- Yes, the fifth film in the saga of the Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa. Better than the critics say and it has some nice moments with the aging fighter and his young son.
There are plenty more: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Parenthood, Father of the Bride, Mr. Mom, On Golden Pond, National Lampoon's Vacation, Parent Trap, Three Men and a Baby. If you have some other favorites, let me know.