Films That Highlight Profound Father-Child Bonds

These films and television shows depict how tight father-child bonds are. Binge-watch these with the family in time for Father’s Day.

Father-child bonds are one of the most powerful and enduring relationships, oftentimes also seen as a central theme in many beloved films. As Father’s Day approaches, there is no better time to gather the family and celebrate paternal love through these cinematic gems. These stories are rich with emotional depth, memorable performances, and brilliant storylines providing both entertainment and heartfelt tributes to the first man in our lives.

Here are the binge-worthy films tackling a father’s love, sacrifices, the challenges that come with raising children, and more.

READ ALSO: Maternal Bonds: Memorable Stories Of Mother-Daughter Relationships In Television And Film

“Father Of The Bride” (1991)

George Banks (Steve Martin) and his wife (Diane Keaton) welcomed Annie (Kimberly Williams) home as she returned from studying abroad. Their daughter then announced that she is engaged, and their world turned upside down, especially for George. Aside from meeting the in-laws and planning the occasion, George was simply not ready to loosen his hold on his little girl.

“Father Of The Bride” depicts a dad who struggles letting go of his daughter as she prepares to get married
“Father Of The Bride” depicts a dad who struggles letting go of his daughter as she prepares to get married/Photo from IMDb

Father of the Bride (1991) embodied fatherhood through George’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance. He grappled with the bittersweet reality of letting go of his daughter and came to terms with her independence. He embraced his role as a supportive father, and eventually, as a father-in-law. It highlights the themes of love, the passage of time, and celebrating the perennial father-child bond.

“My Girl” (1991)

My Girl (1991) is the story of Harry Sultenfuss (Dan Aykroyd), a widower raising his daughter, Vada (Anna Chlumsky). He traverses the path of single parenthood while running a funeral home. 

Vada began to accept her new stepmother, Shelly, in her and her father’s lives
Vada began to accept her new stepmother, Shelly/Photo from IMDb

Harry struggled in balancing his responsibilities and his emotional connection with his child. He was preoccupied with work and had trouble expressing how he felt, which contributed to Vada’s loneliness. The introduction of Shelly (Jamie Lee Curtis), Harry’s romantic interest in the film, led to finally having a maternal figure as well as helping the father-daughter duo to build a loving, strengthened relationship. He learned to connect more directly with Vada.

My Girl depicted the intricacies of family relationships, embracing a new parental figure, and the emotional growth inherent in fatherhood. The film illustrated the changing dynamics within families, emphasizing the importance of love, empathy, and connection with one’s child. It also discussed the theme of grief and healing, and how being there for someone could help lessen the pain.

“Cheaper By The Dozen” (2003)

The 2003 film Cheaper By The Dozen told the story of Tom and Kate Baker (Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt) who dreamed of having a big family. Having 12 children brought their dream to life. It wasn’t easy raising that many kids, especially when a better opportunity knocked and Tom had to uproot the family from their home, Midland.

Tom and Kate Baker raise 12 kids (eldest kid not in photo) in “Cheaper By The Dozen”
Tom and Kate Baker raise 12 kids (eldest kid not in photo) in “Cheaper By The Dozen”/Photo from IMDb

The movie encapsulated themes of individual growth, family cohesion, and the multifaceted aspects of fatherhood. Tom then soon realized that while his career aspirations were important, so is being there for his family. 

Include Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (2005) on your list, the film’s sequel, to complete the experience.

“What A Girl Wants” (2003)

In What A Girl Wants (2003), Daphne (Amanda Bynes) boards a plane on a whim to find Lord Henry Dashwood (Colin Firth), the father she never met. She went to the United Kingdom, found her father’s stately home, and introduced herself to Henry. She discovered that her father has a fiancée named Glynnis and had a soon-to-be stepdaughter, Clarissa (Anna Chancellor and Christina Cole).

Amanda Bynes and Colin Firth played as father-child duo Daphne and Lord Henry Dashwood
Amanda Bynes and Colin Firth played as father-child duo Daphne and Lord Henry Dashwood/Photo from IMDb

The story showed how Henry struggled to get to know a carefree American daughter. Daphne found it difficult to be the perfect daughter of his noble father, the Earl of Wycombe. She always had to be on her best behavior, and it didn’t help that Glynnis and Clarissa kept sabotaging her. Henry hurt Daphne when he did the father-daughter dance with Clarissa during her debutante party. It happened because Glynnis locked her in a room as her mother, Libby (Kelly Preston) came to the party and was irritated. She and Libby left the UK after the incident. Ultimately, Henry abandoned his political career to reconcile with his family.

Henry, throughout the film, learned to embrace fatherhood wholeheartedly and encouraged Daphne to be her true self: carefree, bold, and expressive. It accentuates the power of understanding, acceptance, and loving people for who they are. 

“Are We There Yet?” and “Are We Done Yet?” (2005, 2007)

Are We There Yet? (2005) told the story of Nick Parsons (Ice Cube), a bachelor who never saw kids in his future. That is, until he met a divorcee, Suzanne (Nia Long), who he immediately liked and dated. One day, she had a business trip and needed a favor to bring her children to Vancouver so her ex-husband could look after them. Nick offered, marking the start of a different future. 

In “Are We Done Yet,” Nick Persons juggles home renovations and their growing family
In “Are We Done Yet,” Nick Persons juggles home renovations and their growing family/Photo from IMDb

The children, Kevin and Lindsey (Philip Bolden and Aleisha Allen), didn’t like Nick at first but grew to like him during their roadtrip. The bachelor realized that it wasn’t just Suzanne that he loves and cares for–he also finds himself seeing her children as his own.

In Are We Done Yet? (2007) Nick and Suzanne, together with Kevin and Lindsey, decided to move to the suburbs. Their family is growing bigger as the family matriarch became pregnant with twins. He had to juggle being a good father and staying on top of their home renovations. 

Nick’s journey showed that despite the obstacles, fatherhood also has fulfilling moments. He learned that while parenting requires patience and sacrifice the unconditional love and familial bond are worth it.

“Les Miserables” (2012)

In Les Miserables (2012), Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) was a prisoner for 19 years. He was released on parole and has always been brandished as a thief. He stole some silver and used the money from it to reinvent himself, broke parole, and changed his identity. An officer named Javert (Russel Crowe) made it his mission to find Valjean and put him back to prison.

Jean Valjean, played by Hugh Jackman, was a loving father to Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and a compassionate in-law to Marius (Eddie Redmayne)
Jean Valjean, played by Hugh Jackman, was a loving father to Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) and a compassionate in-law to Marius (Eddie Redmayne)/Photo from IMDb

The film delved into redemption, morality, righteousness, dignity for the poor, and exploring fatherhood. Valjean adopts Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) after her mother, Fantine (Anne Hathaway), dies from tuberculosis. Fantine used to work in his textile factory and was fired upon knowing Cosette was illegitimate. He prevented her arrest when she refused advances from a client (she resorted to prostitution after being fired). The former convict becomes Cosette’s father figure after he rescued her from the Thenardiers, who initially took her in.

Their bond grew strong as he devoted himself to her well being, providing her love, protection, and a better life. He went as far as saving Marius (Eddie Redmayne), Cosette’s love interest, during the 1832 uprising. Their relationship spotlighted the transformative power of a father’s love and the lengths they would go for their child.

“Interstellar” (2014)

In Interstellar (2014), Joseph Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), father of two and a former astronaut, embarked on a dangerous voyage through space to save humanity. He had to leave his two kids, Murphy and Tom, with their grandfather, before embarking on a journey to the galaxy.

In "Interstellar," Joseph Cooper left his family to save humanity
In “Interstellar,” Joseph Cooper left his family to save humanity/Photo from IMDb

Cooper’s children eventually grew up without their father. But he found a way to contact his daughter Murphy by sending her a message through the watch he gave her. Time passed by, and despite the perilous mission, Cooper made it back to earth and saw his daughter, who was on her deathbed. They said their goodbyes, made sure they knew they loved each other, before he embarked on another journey.

Cooper was torn between his family and humanity’s future. While he chose to save the world, not once did he stop loving his children. The film explored the depth of paternal love, transcending time and space.

“Train To Busan” (2016)

The film narrates the story of Seok Woo (Gong Yoo), a divorced workaholic who lived with his mother. He barely spent time with his daughter, Su An (Kim Su-an), in fact he was so distant from her that he got her a Nintendo Wii even if she already had one. He decided to make it up to her through granting her wish: a trip to her mother’s home in Busan.

Seok Woo prioritized saving his daughter from the zombie apocalypse in Busan
Seok Woo with his daughter during the zombie apocalypse in Busan/Photo from IMDb

Various people made their way on a train going to Busan alongside the father-daughter duo. However, the horrors started when a woman who wasn’t feeling well got on the train before it departed and violently bit the conductor. It turns out, she was a zombie. Zombies replicated and eventually turned passengers into dead-eyed flesh eaters in seconds. 

The film explored how Seok Woo turns from a detached father into a protective and responsible one to keep Su An safe from the outbreak. He made sacrifices and took risks, demonstrating his transformation as a selfless parent. It stressed how parents would do anything to keep their children safe no matter what it takes.

Banner photo from IMDb.

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