If all the chirpy and loud American advertising is to be believed, we're supposed to be spending Father's Day outdoors. We're supposed to go camping, fishing, hiking, bike riding, and rest up by playing catch and barbequing. The laziest thing we're encouraged to do is go out to the old ballgame. But what if it rains? Or what if you and your dad are more inclined to arrange some good junk food, and veg out in front of the television for a movie marathon? You got your good cinematic taste from someone, after all ... and if it was from Mom, well, presumably he still took her to the movies once and awhile. Your dad doesn't hate movies. No one does! (If they do, we don't want to know them.)
So, break from bogus tradition! Kick back, and watch a movie (or two, or three, or five...) with your dad this Sunday. If your favorite films happen to run a little violent, nude, or mushy for his tastes (this is not the day to put on "Oldboy"), here's a few suggestions that won't make the day awkward.
1. "Field of Dreams" (1989)
If you can pick only one film for Father's Day, pick this one. It's the ultimate Dad movie, centered entirely on the complicated relationship and memories you have of your own father. (And he has of his, and so on...) It's also the rare baseball movie that's emotional enough to transcend the sport entirely, making it the perfect pick for jocks and coach potatoes both. Just make sure you have the Kleenex handy.
2. Any John Wayne movie
Dads love John Wayne. There are a few exceptions (and you'll know if your dad is one) but for the most part, you just can't go wrong with The Duke. There's a few to avoid – "The Conqueror" stands out – but any one of Wayne's westerns or war flicks will be a bracing addition to your line-up. If you're very hard pressed for a pick, go for "Red River" (1948), "The Searchers" (1956), "The Comancheros," (1961), or "Rio Bravo" (1959). Avoid "The Shootist" (1976) unless you're prepared for Dad's tears.
3. "Superman" (1978)
Even if your dad hasn't seen "The Avengers," chances are good that theaters will be packed with dozens of kids and parents who are also making up for lost time. Why stress? Go nostalgic, and revisit the first (and some still say best) superhero flick. It's as wonderful as you remember, and the sacrifice of Jor-El and the perfection of Pa Kent pack more of an appropriate emotional punch for the day.
4. Any Clint Eastwood film
Who do dads love just as much (and perhaps more than) John Wayne? Clint Eastwood. Dad will be happy with anything you pick (The kink of "Tightrope" might make the room awkward), but you can't go wrong with the "Dollars" trilogy, "The Outlaw Josey Wales" (1976), "Dirty Harry" (1971), or "Every Which Way But Loose" (1978). Be prepared for an energetic discussion about the glory days of rugged leading men ... and perhaps be ready with another Eastwood or Wayne film.
5. "Finding Nemo" (2003)
Parents were an awkward topic in the Disneyverse (just how many of the Disney Princesses are motherless, if not outright orphaned?) until Pixar came along, and delivered what might be the ultimate paean to parenthood: "Finding Nemo." Marlin's desperate drive to find and rescue his son against all odds is heartbreaking, affirming, and wonderful. If you're looking to wordlessly remind your dad that he's always been there for you, look no further.
6. The James Bond series
Someone once told me that you only become a Bond fan if you watched them with your dad. If your dad's a fan of the suave British spy, but never thought you were old enough, now's the perfect time to rediscover them together. You'll never have time to watch them all, so why not cherry pick among the Bonds? Go with Bond's 1962 debut "Dr. No," (Sean Connery), "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977, with Roger Moore as Bond), "License to Kill" (1989, Timothy Dalton's Bond), "GoldenEye" (Pierce Brosnan's best Bond) and end things with Daniel Craig in "Casino Royale" as the most modern of men.
7. "Shaun of the Dead" (2004), "Hot Fuzz" (2007), "Tropic Thunder" (2008)
Comedy can be a hard thing to share with your dad. Chances are, he'll find your tastes too crude or too obscure. But he'll probably appreciate a good satire of a film he likes, even if it does get bloody or foul-mouthed. These are three – horror, cop, and war – that will probably appeal to any dad.
8. "Gladiator" (2000)
Dads generally love a bracing historical flick. Chances are, he's watched "The Great Escape" or "The Dirty Dozen" in the past few weeks, so why not give "Gladiator" a spin? It's a thoroughly old-school sword-and-sandal flick, and Maximus is utterly defined by being "father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife," so it's thematic to the day without being too obvious.
9. "District 9" (2009)
Your dad either loves sci-fi (and perhaps even introduced you to the genre) or loathes it. "District 9" appeals to someone in either camp. If your dad has never seen it, he's in for a treat. If he has, the plight of Christopher Johnson and his adorable spawn Christopher Jr. will tug on both of your heartstrings, and says "I love you, Dad" more than "Star Wars" will.
10. "Winter's Bone" (2010)
Sadly, the majority of the films on this list are oriented towards the father-son relationship. The father-daughter relationship can be just as intense, and one film that wraps it all up in a haunting and bitter package is "Winter's Bone." The hardbitten Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) is a girl doing a man and woman's job, while desperately trying to learn of her father's fate. The scene where she's forced to confront it is one of the most chilling you'll ever see. Watch it to prove to Dad he's raised a strong woman, and pair it with "True Grit" (either version!) to lighten the mood, and reinforce the message.