This week we want to celebrate dads with films about fathers that inspire, lift up, challenge us, and make us laugh. Here are a dozen or more films with some biblical parallels that may open your eyes to more of the ways God has embedded his truths into all of creation.
Plan on a movie marathon, because there are plenty on this list you’re going to want to revisit!
Finding Nemo captures the lengths a dad will take to try to find his lost son alongside the complex dynamics of a child growing up and wanting his own dependence. Set on the coast of Australia, Nemo challenges his dad’s authority and “touches the butt (boat),” putting the plot of the movie into motion. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to go to the Great Barrier Reef.
Biblical Parallels: Parable of the Lost Sheep
Hook builds off of the classic story of Peter Pan, only now Peter is all grown up. When his kids get whisked away by Captain Hook to Never Never Land, Peter has to make his way back to what he thought he’d left in the fantasies of his past to reconcile his relationship with his son and save his family from the villainous (and hilarious) Hook.
Biblical Parallel: David and Absalom’s troubling relationship
Simba knows he’s going to be a mighty king someday, but as he grows up, he discovers that filling his father’s shoes isn’t quite what he thought it would be. Lion King follows Simba from the innocence and playful times of childhood into the grief of losing a father in adolescence, running away from his obligations until family loyalty and calling draws Simba back to save the pride from his uncle and the hyenas.
Biblical Parallel: David and Solomon’s relationship as Solomon took over for David
A Goofy Movie
Isn’t it every dad’s dream to give his kids the summer adventure of a lifetime? Goofy is ready to take his son, Max, across the country to visit the memories of his past and make new ones with his son. Max, on the other hand, has his own plans for the trip that he hasn’t bothered to mention to his dad. Max takes Goofy’s goofiness and love for granted, but that doesn’t stop Goofy from loving his son.
Biblical Parallel: Parable of the Prodigal Son
Two teenage elf boys discover magic that can bring their deceased father back for just one day, but when things go horribly awry, only half of Dad comes back—his bottom half. Onward follows the two boys on an adventure to try to finish the spell so they can see their dad again, but what the boys discover about each other reveals the way a dad’s legacy carries on, beyond the grave.
Biblical Parallel: Jesus promises the disciples the Holy Spirit (I am with you always, until the very end of the age.)
Cheaper by the Dozen (1 and 2)
Steve Martin plays the dad to a dozen children in these two hilarious and heartwarming comedies about parenting multiple children with varying interests and needs. In the first movie, Steve Martin’s character has to weigh the cost and benefits of pursuing his dream job against what is best for his family. The second movie is Steve Martin’s attempt to reconnect his family as they grow up by taking them camping.
Biblical Parallel: Know who else had a dozen kids and struggled to parent them? Jacob.
Mr. Incredible had to hang up his Super Suit when the general public rejected the Supers’ intervention, so now Bob goes through the motions of his life, selling insurance. One day, he gets a secret document inviting him into a classified mission that restores his vigor for life and changes his life’s direction, affirming who he was made to be.
Biblical Parallel: Saul’s conversion to Paul
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
This movie in particular is a great one to revisit with your dad on Father’s Day. It has the classic, “Luke, I am your father,” line known the world over. There’s so much going on with fathers and father figures in this film series. Pick your favorite, and may the force be with you.
Biblical Parallel: The Force, ahem, the Holy Spirit, is strong with this one. Fruits of the Spirit passage in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
As Will Bloom’s father, Edward, approaches the end of his life, Will tries to reconcile what he’s heard all his life from his dad to distinguish the man from the myth and legend. Will grew up in the shadow of his father’s big personality and outlandish stories, stories in which he could never quite tell the truth from fiction. In the end, Will is able to reconcile with his father and set them both free.
Biblical Parallel: Jacob and Joseph
The Pursuit of Happyness
Will Smith and his son star in this heart wrenching story based on the memoir by the same name, written by Chris Gardner. Gardner is a homeless salesman for one full year. The movie follows his journey of survival on his behalf and on behalf of his son. He takes an unpaid internship with the hope of being hired full-time as a stockbroker.
Biblical Parallel: Abraham and Isaac
Father of the Bride
Time for a father-daughter themed movie! Father of the Bride is a classic, starring Steve Martin as he comes to grips with his daughter’s engagement and eventual marriage. Anyone who has planned a wedding will be able to laugh and relate to the bittersweet love between a father and his adult daughter as she makes new choices and takes new steps away from his home.
Biblical Parallel: The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
There’s no limit to the lengths a father will take to be with his family, even if it means dressing like an old lady. Mrs. Doubtfire is played by Robin Williams, who acts as a housekeeper for his ex-wife and his children so that he can spend more time with them. A man dressing up as a woman to sneak into his ex-wife’s life? What could possibly go wrong? Despite the hilarities, Robin Williams’ character is able to prove himself and mend his relationship with his children.
Biblical Parallel: David dancing shameless before the Lord