As you settle down for the summer holidays, here are our five best films from the 1980s all about fathers – that’s being one, dealing with them and loving them. Spoiler alert – the Eighties was a great decade for this.
This is a fantastic film about fathers and sons tucked into an adventure thriller sequel, mainly thanks to the chemistry between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery, the latter of whom was only 12 years older than the man playing his kid.
What it does above all is show how important it is for a father to be there for his son – there’s never any doubt Indy loves and respects his father, but he’s clearly sad Henry Jones Sr seemed to prefer spending time elsewhere rather than with him.
So much of fatherhood is about the mundane tasks of just trying to get through the day, earn enough to make your child happy and deal with all the petty frustrations you find along the way.
Ron Howard’s comedy-drama (the Noughties TV spin-off is also excellent) explores a range of complicated paternal dynamics with humour and the lightest of touches. As such, it always feels utterly real.
This surprisingly prescient comedy starring Michael Keaton feels quite blunt in retrospect, but deals with still-urgent topics like flexible working, maternal and paternal guilt, as well as shared childcare in a surprisingly open way, especially considering it came out 40 years ago.
Keaton is always great and it was written by John Hughes (a genius in many ways, but subtlety was never his strong suit) – it’s intriguing to watch discussions take place on-screen that we’re yet to really grapple with four decades later. Yes, it’s facile when it comes to the whole ‘dad doesn’t know what he’s doing’ schtick, but it allows him to grow, which is something.
Possibly the greatest of all daddy complex movies (any Tom Cruise flick comes a close second), this is wish fulfilment of the highest order – offering a guy the chance to literally bring his father back from the dead and ask him to throw a baseball around.
Luckily, the nuanced script, the brilliant ensemble performances and the spectacular cinematography makes this a true classic.
A true sleeper hit, this adaptation of a French flick holds up surprisingly well to modern viewing (the sequel not so much), despite the understandable but slightly cheesy thriller subplot.
But apply our more recent ideas around later parenthood, ways of sharing parenting and the knowledge that a ‘traditional’ family isn’t the be all and end all for a happy child and this is a fun watch. Where it does fall down is in the minimal effort shown in depicting postpartum depression.