The 44 Best Movies to Watch on Father’s Day

Kelly Allen, Adrianna Freedman
·15 min read
Photo credit: Archive Photos - Getty Images
Photo credit: Archive Photos - Getty Images

Father’s Day calls for at least three dad jokes per hour, sporting matching dad shoes (his fashion is now your fashion), and, of course, a movie marathon dedicated to the vital role the man plays in your life. Maybe you finally agree to sit through the sports movie he quotes far too often. Maybe you put on an irresistible action thriller or opt for a complete tearjerker. Is now the time to pull out one of the early 2000s movies that’s overly cute and almost so bad it’s good that you know every line to?

It’s hard to decide on a movie perfect for celebrating your dad. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve laid out all the stellar fatherly films worth your quality dad time.

What a Girl Wants (2003)

Colin Firth is hands down one of the best movie dads, and I’ll hear nothing else of it. If you need a refresher, Amanda Bynes kills it in this flick as an American teen who boards a flight to London in search of the father she’s never met. It’s packed with cute father-daughter moments—notably, sharing late-night bowls of Coco Pops. This is early 2000s gold, people!

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Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Even if you haven’t seen a second of any Star Wars film, you know the famous, often misquoted paternal reveal in this one: “Luke, I am your father.” It only makes sense that you add this iconic moment to your Father’s Day movie lineup.

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Father of the Bride (1991)

Steve Martin is one of our collective onscreen dads. In this remake of the 1950 Spencer Tracy comedy, he plays the typical overprotective father who has to deal with the fact that his daughter is all grown up when she comes back from study abroad engaged. His struggle to let go is sweet but almost ruins her wedding.

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Finding Nemo (2003)

Obviously, Finding Nemo is a father-son Disney classic we’ve all come to love. A dad who’s willing to travel across the ocean, facing sharks and jellyfish fields, to save his son is a first-rate dad in our book.

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The Godfather (1972)

There’s no way your dad will refuse a chance to rewatch this highly regarded mob drama that follows the powerful Italian-American crime family of Don Vito Corleone. It’s easy to blur the lines in the family business, but remember: “It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.”

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National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

Dad will appreciate your selection of a Chevy Chase movie—trust me. Clark Griswold always brings the laughs with his family shenanigans and wandering eyes. Make it a Chevy Chase marathon with National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation if you’re not opposed to holiday movies during the off-season.

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Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)

This is another one of Steve Martin’s finest that shows how dads are just trying to do their best. When you have 12 kids to manage, it’s tough—especially when they’re all unhappy about moving to a new town. Meat-soaked underwear pranks only scratch the surface of problems to worry about, but it’s all about family love in the end.

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Mamma Mia! (2008)

Not that you need to be reminded of this widely adored ABBA musical, but here it is. In the film, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) wants her father to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day, but there’s a slight hiccup: She needs to figure out who he is. Obviously, there’s no better way to do it than to invite a trio of men (once again, hi, Colin Firth) from her mother’s (Meryl Streep) past to the upcoming wedding to find out.

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Taken (2009)

We get the iconic “I will find you, and I will kill you” dad line from Liam Neeson in this thriller. Liam’s character is a former spy who is trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter. When she and her friend are kidnapped by sex traffickers in Paris, he sets out to save her. Hell hath no fury like a former government operative using his black ops skills to save his daughter.

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Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

This classic is all about a man who will do anything to see his kids. If that means dressing up as an old lady and being his ex-wife’s nanny, so be it. The late Robin Williams brings the laughs, as always, in this family film.

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The Lion King (1994)

The Lion King is literally all about Simba and Mufasa’s father-son relationship. Feel free to watch the live-action remake, but the 1994 animated classic might bring back nostalgic memories for you and Dad. It’ll take you both back to your youth!

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The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

The fact that Will Smith and Jaden Smith, IRL father and son, star in this movie together makes it that much better. Will plays a single father who struggles to take care of his 5-year-old son after his wife leaves him. They’re forced to stay in homeless shelters and face many hardships, but Will’s character remains a caring, loving father through it all. Make sure there are tissues nearby during this tearjerker.

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Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

A boy helps his dad find love again after the death of his wife. Is there anything sweeter than that? America’s dad Tom Hanks stars in this rom-com that tests if it’s possible for two people to fall in love from opposite sides of the continent.

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The Parent Trap (1998)

The family focus is unreal in this Lindsay Lohan masterpiece. When two identical twins decide to swap identities for a chance to spend time with the parent they’ve never met, things get messy. In the end, their scheme actually works.

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RV (2006)

If your dad has ever forced your entire fam into an RV for a fun road trip, you’ll relate to this movie. Plus, any road-trip-based film is a surefire hit with dads. This Robin Williams one is the best option if you’re in the mood for a good laugh, however dumb it may be.

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Big Daddy (1999)

When Adam Sandler’s Sonny Koufax gets dumped by his girlfriend, he decides to prove he is responsible by adopting a 5-year-old kid to win her back. Unsurprisingly, that doesn’t work and he can’t return the kid. Baby Dylan and Cole Sprouse play the kid and, ugh, they were (and still are) so cute!

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A Little Princess (1995)

A little girl is sent to a strict boarding school as her father is World War I bound. Her relationship with her dad and what he taught her (that everyone is a princess no matter what) helps her get through tough times when she finds out he is presumed to be dead and she’s forced into a life of servitude at the school.

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Liar Liar (1997)

Jim Carrey brings his best comic absurdity to this ’90s masterpiece as Los Angeles attorney Fletcher Reede. He’s a class-act liar—that is, until his son wishes that he can’t tell a single lie for 24 hours.

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Parenthood (1989)

It’s Steve Martin as dad again, shocker!! This one captures parental imperfections and the anxiety of it all. Just watch it and tell Dad you love and appreciate him.

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It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

George Bailey is a selfless father who faces financial ruin and thinks about ending it all on Christmas. When an angel shows him what life would be like if he weren’t around, he realizes just how life-changing his good deeds have been over the years.

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He Got Game (1998)

Centered around basketball, this Spike Lee film features Denzel Washington as a father on parole who needs to convince his superstar son to play college basketball at Big State. If he can, he’ll get a shortened sentence.

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Daddy Day Care (2003)

Eddie Murphy stars as a recently unemployed father who decides to turn his home into a daycare center in this hilarious early 2000s flick. He practically turns into the ultimate stay-at-home dad.

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Freaky Friday (2003)

This may be a mother-daughter-centric movie at first glance, but don’t let that fool you. This one is actually about the loving stepfather who, pretty patiently, deals with Jamie Lee Curtis’s and Lindsay Lohan’s characters’ weirdness and spiraling drama.

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Christopher Robin (2018)

The beloved Christopher Robin is all grown up with a kid of his own in this film. When he loses track of life’s joys, as one does with adulthood, Winnie the Pooh and the gang get him back on track. He brings his focus back from work to family.

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Like Father (2018)

Getting left at the altar is a total nightmare in and of itself. What could make it worse? Going on the Caribbean cruise that was meant to be your honeymoon with your estranged father instead. In this comedy, Kristen Bell plays a workaholic who is definitely unwell after this alarming heartbreak. But after a few umbrella-clad cocktails and heart-to-hearts with her father, they both find a new appreciation for family.

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Daddy’s Home (2015)

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg compete to see who can be the better dad in this comedy that amplifies the father versus stepfather relationship that exists in some families. Let’s be real though: There’s no need to face off. It would be great to have two loving, caring dads!

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Die Hard (1988)

The great Die Hard Christmas movie debate will probably go on until the end of time, so here’s another one to spice things up for ya: Die Hard is also a Father’s Day movie. Technically, Bruce Willis does play a dad in this. That’s all you really need for a Dad’s Day movie. Plus, it’s packed with insane action your dad will love.

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A Cinderella Story (2004)

Even though the dad dies in the beginning of this one, he’s always at the heart of the story—especially with his big line: “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” His memory gets Sam (Hilary Duff) through all the crap she is dealt.

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Three Men and a Baby (1987)

When a woman leaves a baby on the doorstep of three New York City bachelors’ (Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson) apartment claiming it belongs to one of them (the one who happens to be away on business), they’re forced to take care of it. They’re totally unequipped, but they try their best.

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Definitely, Maybe (2008)

You probably think of Ryan Reynolds as daddy in a slightly different way than this film portrays him, but TBH, he makes a great daddy in any sense. The story follows a 30something Manhattanite who’s in the middle of a divorce when his daughter asks him to tell her the story of how he met and fell in love with her mom. He is reluctant, then decides to make it a guessing game by recounting three of his romances.

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17 Again (2009)

Starring Zac Efron and Matthew Perry, the movie follows a single father who magically becomes the same age as his teenage children. As he struggles to figure out how to parent through the eyes of a 17-year-old boy, he also begins to see exactly what was missing prior to this serendipitous incident. Interesting? Yes. Zac shirtless at different points of the movie? Well, if I must...

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We Bought a Zoo (2011)

Matt Damon stars as a widower who decides on a whim to move his children to an abandoned zoo property. While he’s busy taking care of the park (and falling in love with Scarlett Johansson), it’s his relationship with his children that goes through the biggest change. It’s a sweet family film with a poignant message.

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Beautiful Boy (2018)

Prepare yourself with a lot of tissues for this one. Following a father-son duo, the twosome grapple with trying to rebuild a relationship as the son goes through addiction. It will rip your heart into a million pieces, while at the same time challenging all the things you know about family dynamics. Plus, it stars Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, so you really can't lose.

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The Family Man (2000)

Jack once had it all: the perfect girl, the perfect job, the perfect future. He leaves to take a job in London and loses everything he ever wanted. But what happens when thirteen years later he wakes up to an alternate reality with the wife and kids? This movie, starring Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni, explores just what sacrifices a person must make to have the life he/she has always dreamed of.

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Trouble With the Curve (2012)

This movie follows a strained father-daughter duo (Eastwood and Amy Adams) as they go on a road trip to scout baseball players for the Atlanta Braves. While the movie does fall into the sports category, the journey both main leads take to get to a better place is one we all can identify with. And if that doesn’t interest you, Justin Timberlake is in it! Not a bad combo of actors, IMO.

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Chef (2014)

Is this another Marvel movie we all forgot about? Directed by and starring Jon Favreau, the movie is about a chef who starts a food truck with his son after losing his job at a popular L.A. restaurant. Aside from the feel-good moments between family, it also features a plethora of famous faces, including Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey Jr. With this cast, how bad could it be?

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Bedtime Stories (2008)

Another Adam Sandler film! Unlike the aforementioned movie, this one follows him as he tells his niece and nephew night-time tales… which surprisingly come true. Amid raining gumballs, gladiator fights, and living inside a massive hotel (although he is the repairman), can he find a way to achieve his dream of running a luxury business and have the perfect family?

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The Game Plan (2007)

Who doesn’t want to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson prance around in a ballet outfit? A Casanova-type football player's whole world literally turns upside down when he finds out the biggest secret of his life: he has a long-lost daughter. Now the duo have to navigate family life while also maintaining the perfect sports image… can he do it all? It’s a bunch of hijinks, cutesy moments, and a whole lot of sarcasm rolled into a perfect family movie.

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Gifted (2017)

If you ever wanted to see Chris Evans take on a paternal role (RIP to my ovaries), now’s your chance. He plays the uncle of a gifted seven-year-old, desperately fighting a custody battle to keep her with him. The downside? The people he’s fighting are his parents, who he believes will not allow his little niece to live the normal childhood she deserves.

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Hook (1991)

Peter Pan can’t possibly grow up and have a family of his own, right? Well, in this film starring Robin Williams, that’s exactly what happens. But when he suddenly finds himself back in Never-Neverland with his kids, he needs to figure out how to outsmart his former foe (played by Dustin Hoffman), save his family and get back to the place he now calls home.

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Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, this movie follows what happens when a divorce turns bitter and how it impacts their son moving forward. It not only features Oscar-winning performances (the movie won 5 of them in 1980), it also shows just how much society has evolved in terms of gender roles and how we view single parenthood.

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The Parent Trap (1998)

If you haven’t seen this movie, please stop reading this list and turn on Disney+ right now. One of the most iconic movies of the late '90s, Lindsay Lohan plays long-lost twins who scheme to get their divorced parents back together. Whether it be for all the pranks on Meredith or the re-blossomed love between adults, it’s a fan favorite for a good reason.

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Beginners (2010)

This Oscar-winning film explores LGBTQ+ love as it follows Hal, an older man who comes out after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and his son, as he processes the news. They both have to navigate their own romances while becoming closer to each other.

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Rocky Balboa (2006)

You’d never think a boxing film would sit on this list… and yet, here we are. The movie follows the famed boxer as he gets back in the ring one last time, with an adult son who’s not really into this plan. Amid losing his wife and trying to rebuild his relationships, Rocky must decide if going through with another fight is more important than losing the only thing left that he truly loves. It not only has some memorable moments, but it features a young Milo Ventimiglia (post-Gilmore Girls, but pre-Heroes) as the young Balboa. Score.

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