So let's celebrate them and their tastes in movies...
My dad is something of a closet sentimentalist. He's outwardly a pretty stoic and quiet guy for the most part, offering a half shrug and "yeah" when saying that he likes a film, but there are a few about which he is more up front about declaring his favour. He really likes Dead Poets Society and What Dreams May Come (he's a big Robin Williams fan), though he doesn't watch them too often. For years, his favourite film was the Jimmy Stewart classic Harvey, so much so that it was the one film that he made a point of making sure I didn't absorb into my own collection... that was his film. However, it was only recently that I learned that he had a new favourite film in his world, that something had finally overtaken his long-standing affections for Harvey. And it's a very good choice, if I do say so myself.
My dad's favourite film is The Truman Show.
Just on a level of craft, I'm very proud of my dad for having this as his favourite film, since I would call the script for The Truman Show one of the best of the past few decades. As a way of exploring the human spirit, the need to reach beyond one's boundaries, questioning the world around you, a relationship with a power greater than yourself, it's a cracking script that cleverly weaves all of that into a satirical take on media consumerism and televisual culture.
My dad has never really given any reasons as to why he likes this specific movie so much, outside of saying that Jim Carrey is brilliant in it (coincidentally, one of Carrey's favourite films is Harvey). I would perhaps consider it as an interesting point that my dad's favourite film would be about a guy who had big plans for his life, but was locked into something far more run-of-the-mill by forces greater than him and wanted nothing more than to escape... but like I say, Truman's struggle is everyone's struggle. And for my dad to regard a film that so dextrously handles that conflict within everyone as his favourite really just underlines his good taste and honesty with himself. It's a choice that really just gives me yet more reason to be proud of my dad.
One of the many reasons why I picked this movie for Chicken Soup is because of my relationship with it and its relationship with my father. One of the first films I ever saw in the cinema, Hook has been a second star to the right film in my life that makes me feel like a child again with each watch. It is safe to say I was more than thrilled when my father revealed that it was his favourite film too!
Hook was always our go-to movie, and it still is. I have the best memories of curling up on the sofa with my Dad, listening to the sounds of his gullet and feeling safe. I remember watching the antics of Peter Panning trying to save his own children from the merciless Hook and being a figurehead for a large amount of orphaned kids. I remember my Dad crying (every time) when they went back to the joys of their mother. I remember quoting along and that has carried on right to this day. He even quoted it in my birthday card and made me cry with this flood of memories.
I think a lot of reasons for liking Hook stem from the father relationship at the centre of the movie because their are tonnes of parental relationships going on here. Hook to Pan, Pan to the Lost Boys, Panning to his children and his neglect, Hook to Peter's son Jack and many many more. Apart from the hilarity and the fun that happens as the theme park esque mayhem, there is genuinely a lot of heart here. Especially when you find out that an older Peter Pan's happy thought is becoming a father. No wonder my dad resonates with it so well.
My Dad and I have a great connection with movie we like together. Quadrophenia, The Full Monty, Midnight Express and heck, I even took him to watch Filth in the cinema. I grew up on his film tastes such as Monty Python and it has helped shape me. But if you pop Hook on, I will always regress to being that child, curled up against my Dad; believing in magic and pixie dust.
My dad is obsessed with Seabiscuit. He watches it constantly, knows practically every line, and refuses to delete it off his Sky+ box even though I bought him the DVD years ago. Luckily, this film ties in with one of my own obsessions: the love I have for my favourite actor, Jeff Bridges. As a result, I’ve watched Seabiscuit quite a lot. Not to the same extent as my father, but enough.
Seabiscuit is the true story of the titular racing horse, and his jockey Red, played by Toby Maguire, along with owner Charles S Howard (Jeff Bridges) and trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper). It is your typical rise to glory tale, with Seabiscuit beginning as an undersized, outsider horse and Red an inexperienced rider, with both horse and jockey experiencing pitfalls and failure before Seabiscuit’s eventual triumph. It’s an uplifting tale in the manner of most underdog sports movies, but what sets it apart are wonderful performances from Maguire, Bridges and Cooper, and an attention to detail with the stylistic elements of the time period.
Seabiscuit seems like an unexpected choice for my dad’s favourite film. His passion for the Lord of the Rings trilogy is so intense that if I didn’t know better, I’d be writing about those films instead. But I think it’s because Seabiscuit, while very good, doesn’t seem like the kind of film that would be considered anyone’s favourite. It’s lovely, and a great watch, but never had that mass appeal that would bring with it fan adoration for years to come. I guess my dad has proved that theory wrong, and while it’s not all down to the presence of Jeff Bridges, I can at least pretend it is, and marvel at my favourite actor with him while he marvels at his favourite film.
My Dad always had a soft spot for this one. It’s the film he watched with my mum on their honeymoon, and I guess the sentiment stuck all these years despite the subsequent divorce. Superman II is one of those rare sequels which outshines the original in almost every way. I’ve been vocal on my opinion of the first Superman movie. Sure, it was good and definitely reworked the superhero genre in cinema – but I could never get over the fact that they gave Superman (Christopher Reeves) the ability to reverse time, on a whim. Thankfully this power gets ignored in the sequel, which deals with the invasion of three Kryptonian villains who seek to dominate the Earth.
Unfortunately for the denizens of Earth, their arrival coincides with the fact that Superman has given up his powers to fully dedicate himself to the woman he loves, Purlitzer-Prize winning journalist Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), after she discovers his secret identity as Clark Kent. After the Kryptonians, led by the vicious and deluded General Zod (Terrance Stamp), lay waste to much of the planet. Superman returns to the Fortress of Solitude and has the holographic projection of his dead mother reimburse his powers. Superman faces off against Zod and his cronies, but it becomes clear after one confrontation in downtown Metropolis that the Man of Steel is outmatched. Instead he lures them back to the Fortress, where he reverses the technology which had originally taken his powers, which takes theirs instead. This allows Superman to overwhelm them and save the world.
Superman II is easily the strongest of the four original Superman movies, surpassing the original and the two remaining sequels by a long shot despite the challenges faced during its production, such as the firing of director Richard Donner midway through the shoot.
When I asked my Dad what his favourite movie was, he told me “Jerry Maguire” without hesitation. This came to my surprise, as my Dad is a huge film geek, like me. Almost every time I see my Dad, there will be a new film or two that he needs to tell me about. So for my Dad to be so passionate about various types of movies, Jerry Maguire must be a special one.
Jerry Maguire is a 1996 American romantic comedy-drama which follows Jerry (Tom Cruise), a highly successful sports agent who feels guilty for the way he and his colleagues treat their clients as commodities. Jerry takes it on himself to write an idealistic manifesto suggesting that his company should opt for fewer clients and a more caring approach. Initially being admired by his colleagues, he is eventually deserted by all but one when he his fired, Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr). Other important characters who support Jerry is single mum Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) who falls in love with him and her adorable son (Jonathan Lipnicki) who both infectious warmth to the film. With nobody else, he must start from scratch if he wants to achieve his success once more.
The film unsurprisingly received highly positive acclaim when first released and the lead performances are continued to be one of the best aspects of Jerry Maguire. Being nominated for five Academy Awards and three Golden Globes mainly for performances goes to show how stellar the leads were. Cruise gives one of his finest performances and is surrounding by unpredictable but remarkable characters. Although only Cruise and Gooding walked away with awards, Zellweger and Lipnicki steal the screen with their heart-warming and emotion-filled scenes.
Jerry Maguire is definitely one of writer/director Cameron Crowe’s most successful films yet, and according to my Dad, definitely not one to miss!
My Dad doesn’t watch a lot of films these days. Due to this rather small attention span, he can’t sit through them, apart from the odd Christmas film (There’s something about the Jim Carrey Christmas Carol that always sucks him in). But he’s certainly seen a lot of films in his life, and he has pretty good taste. But ask him the question “What’s your favourite film?” and he has to think about it, because he loves all sorts. He loves Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Rise of the Footsoldier, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, There’s Something About Mary, all sorts. But eventually, he always come to the same conclusion: Goodfellas.
Goodfellas is the story of real life gangster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) as he and his friends work their way up the mob hierarchy. Martin Scorsese is a God in the film world, and Goodfellas is far and away one of his best films. The performances are all exceptional, with Liotte and Scorsese favourite Robert De Niro handing in excellent performances. The film also has some minor performances from actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, who needs no explanation, and Michael Imperioli, who would later go on to play Christopher in The Sopranos. But the one that really stands out is Joe Pesci in his Oscar winning turn as mean, violent, short tempered Tommy Devito.
The music is excellent, the cast perfection, and the direction is some of Marty’s best. It’s no wonder my Dad loves this film, as it is a staple of its genre, sitting up there with the first two Godfather movies as one of the best crime films ever made. Scratch that....It’s one of the best films ever made period, and how Kevin Costner’s 3 hour borefest Dances With Wolves won Best Picture over this masterpiece in 1990, I’ll never know.
Different films have different charms, often as specific to the viewer as to the film itself, and this is what really gives a personal favourite its re-watch value. In some cases, such as this one, the film is a family event. Released in 1990, when I was two years old – and back in the day when movies took several years to reach the small screen – this may well be the first film I watched with my dad on home video, soon to be followed by the others in the old Jack Ryan series that still hold priority in our small collection. Whenever there’s an afternoon to kill, it’s still our go-to choice. Maybe it’s the music, the atmosphere, the dawn-of-the-nineties nostalgia or the Sean Connery factor, but it’s always as enjoyable as it was the last time round. Knowing the whole plot line scene-by-scene doesn’t matter. That familiarity is part of the experience, since the film itself is a part of the family.
One of the key strengths of the film, then, is in the casting. As is often the case, it’s a good thing that the first choice for Ramius was unavailable in the end. Connery, whose character is Lithuanian-born and most likely trilingual, declined as usual to use an accent and relied instead on his reserved, authoritative persona (see another key scene, in which Ramius calmly eats his breakfast as his full contingent of officers drink, smoke and argue hysterically over their impending doom all around him). Sam Neill, playing the timid and sympathetic first officer Vasili, ignores this and maintains a Russian lilt throughout the full runtime. Baldwin, equipped with his raspy smoker’s voice and soon to be known for playing intimidating alpha males in many of his roles, is surprisingly well-placed as the tame, teetotal family man Ryan. Add James Earl Jones as Admiral Greer, Tim Curry as the Soviet ship’s doctor, Joss Ackland and Stellan Skarsgård – following the Hollywood logic of foreign actor for foreign part, actual nationality irrelevant – and you have an enviable list of names. The fact that the film follows an ensemble cast rather than focusing solely on the two protagonists, reflecting the tremendous scale of the novel whilst still cutting out as many of the extraneous events and characters as the filmmakers could manage (this was the very reason for its rejection by several other studios), makes it all the more engaging. A key theme of the film, after all, is perspectives – this is not a clean cut conflict and moral ambiguity, uncertainty and tension are what keep the whole thing going.
Then there is the production value. Considering it was filmed in 1989, Red October has not aged badly at all, and much of the responsible trickery can be seen in the behind-the-scenes mini-documentary released by the studio. The external shots of the submarines, rather than using much in the way of risky CGI, were filmed using scaled-down models suspended in vast tanks of murky water and smoke. Artistic license was taken to render the interiors distinctive enough for audiences to recognise each setting immediately, with the bridge and compartments of the USS Dallas bathed in perpetual red light and the interior of the Red October in blue. In 1991, the film won the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing. Authenticity was also important – Scott Glenn reportedly spent several days aboard a US Navy submarine, observing the officers and men, and was surprised to see the calm, co-operative demeanour of its captain and the resulting respect from his crew. This was the full basis for his performance as Captain Bart Mancuso. In the meantime, Baldwin learned how to steer the sub and mastered a few lines of foreign dialogue. One of the only serious problems in the film comes when his flawless Russian is met by Connery’s (the actual Soviet, in this story) clumsy, grammatically incorrect and hastily learned lines delivered in his native accent. The stand-off scene in which they finally meet under the blinking lights of the abandoned Red October bridge and reduce the Cold War as a whole to a face-to-face human confrontation is almost ruined as Baldwin manages to say, “It is wise to study the ways of one’s adversary, is it not?”, mere moments after Connery fails to offer three intelligible words in his character’s own language. Even so, he still looks good in a furry black ushanka hat.
Whatever your type of film or whatever you need to make it watchable – be it plot, acting or, particularly, atmosphere – The Hunt for Red October likely has some element of it. It’s a lovingly made film that has stood the test of time for a reason, and is a brilliant way to spend a slow Sunday evening (like this one). Get it watched.
What's Your Dad's Favourite Movie?
Does he like action?
Musicals or muscles?
Let us know in the comments and again. Happy Father's Day!