As a young child the mysterious world of men was beyond my comprehension. However, I was too busy climbing trees and watching movies to spare any time contemplating grown-up life. Every year when Father’s day came around, I relied on the trusted default option – a nice pair of socks. However, one year I asked my dad for Father’s Day gift ideas and he replied that the best gift I could give him was his “life back”. Instead I got him a copy of Darwin’s On the Origins of Species. The book demonstrates that, in evolutionary terms, becoming a parent is an act of propagating your own genes. So, whilst I couldn’t give him a refund on life, I did remind him that fatherhood is the next best thing: paying it forward. He said he preferred the socks.
Perhaps if I had had more wit about me, I might have been able to find useful tips and guidance from those very films that I was too busy watching.
Creepshow (1982): Jolting Tales of Horror
This is an anthology of horrific tales written by Stephen King. The stories comprise of a meteor turning everything into plants, a creature in a crate, a vengeful husband, and a businessman undone by cockroaches. This goes to show how times have changed, in these failing economic times, businessmen are now seen as one with the cockroaches. Perhaps most memorable segment from this compendium is a story of an old man returning from the dead to retrieve the Father’s Day cake that his homicidal daughter never gave him. An in-joke throughout the film is that the prop ashtray that the murderous daughter uses to kill her papa actually appears in each of the five stories in some form or other. Finally, the Father’s Day story concludes with the undead daddy decorating his cake with something that one can only hope is raspberry juice.
Parenthood (1989): It Could Happen to You!
This popular comedy-drama presents aspects of parenthood from the perspective of families at all stages and ages of life. Although Steve Martin, the star of the film, has played fathers in films such as Father of the Bride (1991) and Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), he didn’t become a father himself until the age of 67. Martin joked that his baby-talk tweet “coo, coo, cutsy, woosty, footsy pie” was much admired by the Dada artistic movement.
Father’s Day (1997): One Kid. Two Dads. A Whodunnit.
In theory this film has everything going for it: renowned funny-men Robin Williams (Good Morning Vietnam) and Billy Crystal (When Harry Met Sally), established director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters), and popular scribes Ganz and Mandel (City Slickers). Sadly, all these talented parents only manage to give birth to a gormless waste of space. In the film, Nastassja Kinski tricks two ex-lovers into helping her find her runaway son; she tells them both that one of them could be the biological father. I suppose that knowing you are the father of your own child would count as one of the happier Father’s Day gifts. Something to which that the Jeremy Kyle fan-base can only aspire.
Sha Po Lang (2005): Killzone
This bone-crunching Kung Fu spectacular plays on the themes of fatherhood throughout: an orphaned child becoming adopted by a distressed detective; a crime boss desperate to sire a son with his young wife; an estranged father who is reconciled with his daughter; and an eager cop trying to prove himself in his father’s shadow. Late night on father’s day, a band of detectives sit around discussing parental relationships and sharing Father’s Day gift ideas. By the end of the night, they’ve all been kicked, punched, slammed, slit, mugged and mangled in breath-taking Hong Kong style. The film is choreographed by the current king of Kung Fu – Donnie Yen – who in the final scene is pitted against martial arts legend Sammo Hung. Sammo is unlike any Hollywood action star – not only is he obese and middle-aged, he can also kick butt better than posers half his age. For this alone, he should be considered a hero for father’s everywhere.
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