Whether Father’s Day is on the horizon, you’re visiting Dad for the holidays, or you’re simply looking to spend some quality time together, there are many films that showcase the father-son dynamic. But what are the best father-son movies, and what are good movies for fathers and sons to watch together?
From heartbreaking dramas to outrageous comedies to more complicated and zany father-son tandems on the big screen—here are 25 of the best father-and-son movies you should definitely check out.
Arguably the most complicated father-son relationship on screen, “The Godfather” features Marlon Brando as Don Corleone, the head of a crime family who has three very different relationships with his sons: Sonny, Fredo, and Michael.
Played by Al Pacino, Michael is the youngest of the three and is the most reluctant to join the family business. The film traces his journey to becoming a spitting image of his own father with plenty of twists and turns along the way.
“STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK”
There is perhaps no movie quote more iconic than “Luke, I am your father.” One of the biggest plot twists in film history, “The Empire Strikes Back” is not only considered by many to be the best Star Wars film but it is also known for laying the groundwork to understand the complicated father-son relationship at the center of Mark Hamill‘s journey as Luke Skywalker. It’s also a perfect excuse to spend Father’s Day revisiting the original Star Wars trilogy.
One of Marvel’s best releases in the past decade, this film isn’t just a deep dive into the wondrous world of Wakanda, it is also an examination of how Chadwick Boseman‘s character, T’Challa / Black Panther, reckons with the passing of his father, King T’Chaka.
In order to move forward and become the new leader of his people, Black Panther must first remember the lessons passed down to him from his father. Their relationship is the central storyline driving this superhero epic.
“ROAD TO PERDITION”
Played by Tom Hanks, Mike Sullivan works for a powerful Illinois mobster during the Depression era in Road To Perdition. Mobster John Rooney’s son, Connor, envies their close relationship and eventually kills close members of the Sullivan family. With the situation forcing Mike and his son Michael to flee, the two embark down a path of revenge, self-discovery, and redemption.
Nothing beats the action-packed Indiana Jones film series as some of the best father-son movies out there. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the films depict themes of father and son relationships—particularly with the third film’s sought-after Holy Grail, which “could be a metaphor for a son seeking reconciliation with a father and a father seeking reconciliation with a son,” according to Spielberg.
Plus, don’t miss the upcoming fifth movie slated for release in summer 2023! While you wait, put the first four Indiana Jones films on your father and son movies list:
The central father and son are separated for most of “Finding Nemo,” but the time spent apart allows for a stronger father-son relationship to develop between Marlin and Nemo, voiced by Albert Brooks and Alexander Gould.
Marlin learns how to trust his son, while Nemo realizes the sacrifices his father is willing to make for him. The Pixar film perfectly showcases universal lessons about a father-son dynamic from the animated world that are applicable to real life.
“THE LION KING”
Disney’s “The Lion King” is not only universally beloved for its catchy tunes, including “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Hakuna Matata,” but it is also an iconic animated film for the father-son relationship between Simba and Mufasa, voiced by Matthew Broderick and James Earl Jones.
Who can forget the pride of father Mufasa when Rafiki holds his son, Simba, up on Pride Rock or Simba’s path to accepting his royal identity after his father’s tragic death. It is one of the most heartwarming father-son tales in cinema.
In this classic comedy film starring Robin Williams, a divorced father devises an elaborate scheme in order to see his children more often. The solution? Daniel dresses up in disguise as an older British woman so that his ex-wife hires him as the family nanny, “Mrs. Doubtfire,” who quickly wins the kids’ affection. The experience is eye-opening for Daniel in becoming a better parent, but he can’t keep up the act forever.
A movie that’s equal parts touching, suspenseful, and hilarious, “Mrs. Doubtfire” is a great go-to father-son flick or even a trip down Nostalgia Lane for the whole family.
“Real Steel” is a futuristic, action-adventure film with science fiction elements that stars Hugh Jackman as Charlie Kenton. A former prizefighter who lost his chance at winning a title after robots overtook the boxing ring, Charlie reaches a low point as he pieces together scrap metal to build low-end fighters and joins forces with his estranged son, Max. But together, they may just be able to redeem a discarded robot that has a shot at claiming the championship.
“The Rookie” is based on a true story, baseball coach and former minor-league pitcher Jim Morris learns that it’s never too late for dreams to come true. After a shoulder injury ended his sports career more than a decade ago, the father, husband, and high-school chemistry teacher and baseball coach agrees to a deal with his team: If they win the district championship, Jim will try out with the major leagues and pursue his lifelong passion.
“THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS”
Wes Anderson’s films examine family dynamics through a different lens, and “The Royal Tenenbaums” is no different. Gene Hackman plays the eccentric father of the Tenenbaum family, who leaves his kids during their teens only to return later on in their lives.
The film is about a father reconciling with his family, including sons Chas and Richie played by Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson. The plot gives us many iconic comedic scenes, but, at the center of it, it’s a look at how father-son relationships define a family.
Julian, who has been abandoned by his family, and Sonny are not technically father and son from a biological standpoint, but the film shows that father figures can come in many different forms. It’s also about the journey of one man discovering what it means to grow up in this world.
“CATCH ME IF YOU CAN”
Father figures come in many forms, as we learn in “Catch Me If You Can,” a movie based on a true story. This crime thriller stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, a con man who successfully earned millions through check fraud while posing as an airplane pilot.
The film focuses on two father-son dynamics: the first between Abagnale and his actual father played by Christopher Walken, and the second, a father-son like relationship between DiCaprio and Carl Hanratty, the FBI agent played by Tom Hanks, who spends the movie trying to track Abagnale down but eventually becomes sympathetic to his cause.
Michael Newman (played by Adam Sandler) has it good on the surface but struggles to spend enough time at home instead of at his job as an architect—to the discontent of his wife, Donna. That is, until he meets a wacky inventor who offers a universal remote that can control time and reality with just a “Click.” After choosing to skip over seemingly “boring” yet actually significant periods of his life, Michael must learn the hard way the importance of cherishing every moment with his family.
“BACK TO THE FUTURE”
This highly acclaimed 1985 sci-fi classic starring Michael J. Fox tells the story of a small-town California teen Marty McFly, who is thrown back in time to the ’50s due to a science experiment gone wrong by his friend Doc Brown. While time traveling, Marty meets young versions of his parents and works to ensure their past selves fall in love, lest he will no longer exist. As an even higher-stakes feat, Marty must also return back to the present day to save his friend’s life.
“Back to the Future” brings to the table something to love for everyone, making it a perfect pick for a family or father-son movie night.
“FIELD OF DREAMS”
An all-time classic sports film, “Field of Dreams” is about Ray Kinsella’s (Kevin Costner) pursuit of building a baseball field and also about how a son tries to reconcile his broken relationship with his late father. Kinsella is driven not just by his passion for the game, but also by what he never had growing up with his father.
“THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS”
“The Pursuit of Happyness” tells the real-life story of Chris Gardner (Will Smith), a homeless salesman who sacrifices everything in his life in order to provide a better life for his son Chris Jr., played by an eight-year-old Jaden Smith.
It is not only a tale of how far hard work and determination will take you, but it’s also about a father’s unwavering love and devotion to his son and the lengths a father will go to in order to provide a better life for his family.
With a wide array of films from blockbusters to kid-friendly films to tearjerkers, there’s plenty of options on this Father’s Day to sit back and find a film that you can watch and reminisce on some favorite cinematic moments in your living room.
“THE KARATE KID”
This must-see, feel-good ‘80s film revolves around Daniel, who moves to Southern California with his mother. Unfortunately, the boy falls victim to a group of bullies who happen to be students of karate at the Cobra Kai dojo. Things start to turn around when Daniel meets and befriends Mr. Miyagi, a repairman who also happens to be a martial arts master. Mr. Miyagi trains Daniel through a more compassionate philosophy of karate practice and helps prepare him to face off against the Cobra Kai and become The Karate Kid.
Starring Chris Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, and others, “October Sky” is about a coal miner and father who takes pride in his job. To his disappointment, his sons Homer and Jim do not wish to follow in his footsteps—with instead one earning a football scholarship and another taking a passionate interest in rocket science. With the support of friends and an understanding teacher, Homer begins to build rockets in hopes of paving a path to a better life.
Set in Northern England, this film is a coming-of-age tale of an 11-year-old coal miner’s son, whose life is forever altered when he happens upon a ballet class during his regular boxing practice. The dance instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson, and her passion for teaching is revitalized after witnessing Billy’s true, natural talent for dance. Meanwhile, the boy faces an initial backlash from his father regarding his newfound hobby. If you’re seeking a touching drama-comedy-musical, definitely put “Billy Elliot” on your father and son movies list.
Amid significant life changes as a transgender woman in Los Angeles, Bree Osborne discovers that she is a parent to a long-lost son, Toby, who was born 17 years ago. She bails him out of jail in New York while posing as a religious missionary. Her plans to drop off the boy with his stepfather go awry when she discovers the man has sexually abused Toby. Upon Bree bringing her son back to LA with her, however, Toby starts falling for her—forcing her to decide how to reveal her true identity. Be sure to put “Transamerica” on your list.
Directed by Tim Burton, “Big Fish” is another well-received movie about father and son relationships. When his father Edward Bloom falls ill, William travels to help take care of him, despite their strained relationship. Much of this disharmony is due to the seemingly exaggerated and untruthful anecdotes Edward has always recounted about his life, and William thinks he’s never really told the truth. As a journalist, William puts on his investigator cap and begins delving into Edward’s tales—and in turn further understands his father along with his penchant for storytelling.
“LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE”
In this humorous, dramatic, and gripping family flick, the Hoovers—depicted by an all-star cast—take us on a journey to a beauty pageant with a dysfunctional family of two parents, a brother, a sister, an uncle, and a grandfather. The true adventure begins when the whole crew piles into a VW bus en route to California to support the daughter, Olive, as she competes in the Little Miss Sunshine Contest. The limits of sanity are tested for everyone involved during a road trip that couldn’t possibly go more wrong. With a satisfying ending, the tearjerking tale is sure to keep everyone on the edge of their seats (and on their toes).
In this late-‘90s remake of the outlandish French classic “La Cage aux Folles,” an engaged couple (Val Goldman and Barbara Keeley) introduce their to-be in-laws. Val’s father, a gay Miami drag club owner played by Robin Williams, pretends to be straight and hide his relationship with his life partner who is The Birdcage‘s star attraction in an attempt to please Barbara’s father, a controversial Republican senator.
We hope you can discover some new favorite father and son movies from this list. With a wide array of films from blockbusters to kid-friendly films to tearjerkers, there’s plenty of options for this coming Father’s Day (or any other time!) to sit back and find a film that you can watch and reminisce on some classic cinematic moments in your living room.
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