Grab some popcorn and kick back with dad

Posted 6/23/21

In honor of Father’s Day, I present… a movie list! I believe there are certain traits that men, especially family men, exhibit in their purest form that are worth emulating and reproducing. And, …

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Grab some popcorn and kick back with dad


In honor of Father’s Day, I present… a movie list!

I believe there are certain traits that men, especially family men, exhibit in their purest form that are worth emulating and reproducing. And, of *course* women are capable of exhibiting all of these traits — I just believe that they should be expected of Dads. So, “a movie list?” you ask. Listen, being a Dad is very serious work — but that doesn’t mean we have to take ourselves too seriously.

So, with no thought to overall quality of the movie, merely the praiseworthy elements of the healthy masculine mindset represented within (often in quotes), and in no particular order, here is my Father’s Day Movie List.

*The Thirteenth Warrior* Never heard of this? I’m not surprised. From the prolific mind of the late Michael Crichton, this one tells the story of an Arab (Antonio Banderas — yeah, I know) who is added to the company of 12 Norse warriors who are tasked with “slaying a dragon.” The dragon turns out to be a horde of barbaric tribesmen who have made a habit of annihilating whole villages, and the company has to overcome superstition and superior numbers to accomplish their task. There are brilliant elements of the warrior’s brotherhood, sacrifice, and humor throughout, but it’s on my list because a) I am fascinated by Norse mythology, and b) “Lo, there, do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning. They do call to me, they bid me take my place among them, in the Halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live … forever.”

*Live Free or Die Hard* In my opinion, the second-best of the five Die Hard movies, this one has two very strong things going for it. One, an excellent bad guy, played with narcissistic relish by Timothy Olyphant; and two, the best part of the movie is about the pain and sacrifice John McClane (Bruce Willis) is willing to go through to save his daughter. “That’s what makes you that guy.”

*The Last Samurai* This Tom Cruise vehicle from the early 2000s tells a loose version of actual events in late 19th century Japan. It is on my list for three reasons. One, when told of the final outcome of the Battle of Thermopylae, Katsumoto (the Last Samurai) smiles about a “good” death. Two, the scene of the death of Katsumoto’s son is one of those moments of perfect art. The mix of pride, anguish, and resolve that flash across the face of Ken Watanabe in the span of two seconds is … perfect. And three, “to see life in every breath. That is the way of the warrior. That… is Bushido.”

*42* Excellent telling of the integration of baseball in 1947, and the courage it took, especially between Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) and Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford). But my favorite scene is when Pee Wee Reese (Lucas Black) — a big star in 1947 — puts his arm around Robinson and waves to a hostile crowd in Cincinnati in pregame, to signify solidarity with his black teammate. Courage isn’t always about physical danger.

*Patriot Games* The best, in my opinion, of the Jack Ryan movies, this one has Ryan (Harrison Ford) intervening in an Irish Republican Army attempt to assassinate one of the British royals. For his troubles, the IRA crosses the ocean and attempts to kill his whole family at a dinner event in his honor. This one is about not being an idle bystander in the face of evil, and then doing whatever has to be done to protect your family.

*The Replacements* Like I said, *not* necessarily about the overall quality of the movie. This occasionally sophomoric football movie, starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman, is on the list because of one quote: “Greatness, no matter how brief, stays with a man.” Obviously, that is not a gender-specific sentiment, but that idea is the reason I spent a career trying to push students to exceed their own expectations.

*Field of Dreams* Because this is the most father-specific of the baseball movies. Young dads, do yourself a favor: start to record some of your thoughts and dreams and ideas of who you are now. Because someday, your kids will “only know you when you were old, and worn down by life.” Your dreams and aspirations fuel their dreams and aspirations — don’t hide those from them.

Whereas Mothers are mostly revered (rightly) for all they do to nurture children, it has been my limited experience that fatherhood is mostly about overcoming your own mistakes, failures, and limitations. Some argue that only a Dad can teach a son how to be a man, but I would say I had no idea how to be a man until I had a child that I was responsible for. I don’t know how my own dad made it look so easy, but, for me, it’s daily effort. Having his example, and some of these sentiments, in my mind, makes it all possible.

Salute!, Fathers. I hope you enjoy your day, know how important you are, and show up again tomorrow, trying to point your children into the future.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Valkyrie’s Kiss,” a finalist in the ScreenCraft Book Competition, is available now at His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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