Poor Dad. Father’s Day just doesn’t elicit that same apple pie in the kitchen feeling as Mother’s Day. Thanks, pop culture.
Not that they’ve been totally neglected. Sure, there are songs and films about dads that go away or are too busy to engage, but there are plenty other songs and movies that celebrate Dad, Father, Daddy, Papa, Pops — whatever your nickname for him is.
Pop some popcorn, haul out his favorite beer or soda and plop down on the couch with Dad today and enjoy a movie or some music together.
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‘Just the Two of Us,’ Will Smith: This 1981 R&B song originally was recorded by Grover Washington Jr., but Will Smith gives it a fresh spin as a father talking about life matters with his son.
‘Daughters,’ John Mayer: “Fathers, be good to your daughters; daughters will love like you do,” Mayer advises dads in this gentle song that almost begs a little girl to dance with her dad while standing on his feet.
‘Dance with My Father,’ Luther Vandross: Boys can dance with their dads, too. “Back when I was a child, before life removed all the innocence, my father would lift me high and dance with my mother and me and then spin me around ’til I fell asleep; then up the stairs he would carry me, and I knew for sure I was loved,” Vandross sings as he poignantly wishes he could see his father again.
‘Daddy,’ Beyonce: On her debut studio album, this 2003 song features Bey singing a heartfelt ode to her father as well as having a “remember when” conversation in the background.
‘Song for Dad,’ Keith Urban: Has the adult version of you ever said, “I sound just like my father?” Yeah? Keith finds himself doing the same in this song. “And I only hope, when I have my own family, that every day I see a little more of my father in me.”
‘Isn’t She Lovely,’ Stevie Wonder: Truly a song “In the Key of Life,” Wonder sings about the wonder of being a dad to his baby girl Aisha. The especially poignant part of this song is knowing that Wonder is blind as he marvels “I can’t believe what God has done; through us he’s given life to one, but isn’t she lovely made from love.”
‘Love Without End, Amen,’ George Strait: “Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love, a secret that my daddy said was just between us; he said daddies don’t just love their children every now and then, it’s a love without end, amen.” What more to say about this hit from 1990?
‘Color Him Father,’ The Winstons: Got an awesome stepdad in your life? Here’s a tribute to him. You might never have heard of it, but give this 1969 soul recording a listen. It’s about a man who falls in love with a war widow with seven children “and he took us in, and now we belong to the man with that big, wide grin.”
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’: The quintessentially noble dad, Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, is a man of honor who tries to protect his two children as he serves as defense attorney for a black man accused of raping a white woman.
‘The Lion King’: This beloved animated film from 1994 shows the bond between father and son, as illustrated by Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones) and Simba (Matthew Broderick), who then becomes a father and a king himself.
‘Father of the Bride’: Whether you prefer the 1950 version starring Spencer Tracy or the 1991 version starring Steve Martin, you can’t help but love the dad as he faces the facts: His little girl has grown up.
‘The Pursuit of Happyness’: Will Smith stars in this story of a dad left alone with his 5-year-old son. Based on a true story, the two become homeless as Chris, the dad, takes a chance on an unpaid internship in an intense, competitive stockbroker training program. He struggles to build a future for himself and his trusting son.
‘Sleepless in Seattle’: So yes, it’s a Meg Ryan chick flick, but this 1993 romantic comedy leans heavily on the storyline of young Jonah, who goes to great lengths to find the perfect girlfriend and future mate for his widowed dad, Sam, played by Tom Hanks.
‘Finding Nemo’: Marlin the clownfish goes in search of his son, Nemo, when the smaller fish is caught after swimming too close to the surface. Marlin is voiced by Albert Brooks and Nemo by Alexander Gould in this 2003 animated film.
‘Big Fish’: Albert Finney and Billy Crudup play father and son, respectively, with a strained relationship. Edward, the dad, has long had a penchant for telling tall tales about his life. When he becomes ill, son William returns to be with him. William researches his exaggerated stories and learns much more about his father than he expected.
‘Fly Away Home’: Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin portray an inventor father and a daughter who goes to live with him after the death of her mother. When she finds some abandoned goose eggs and hatches them, the motherless birds help father and daughter create a bond.