Each week, we will post a review of one of the four films National Fatherhood Initiative has nominated for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year. These will not be your typical movie reviews, but will instead focus on what in particular makes the movie a good “fatherhood movie.” Our first entry is on Beasts of the Southern Wild.
One of the hardest things for many dads to do is express love and reveal their emotions to their children. Often, and unfortunately, anger is the only emotion men are really comfortable expressing. This is true of Wink, the father in the highly-praised film, Beasts of the Southern Wild (it is up for several Oscars, including Best Picture).
If you are looking for a film with a sugar-coated relationship between a father and his daughter, this is not the film for you. It takes a very gritty, sometimes shocking look at what can transpire when people are faced with severe challenges, like isolation, grief and poverty.
But it is in the conflict where the true “fatherhood magic” happens in this film. Early in the film, we see that Wink is very hard on his daughter, Hushpuppy, played brilliantly by newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis (also nominated for an Oscar). He yells at her, expects her to fend for herself despite her very young age, and even beats her. In a particularly difficult scene, he slaps her repeatedly to the ground.
It is what Hushpuppy makes of this situation that holds an incredibly valuable lesson for fathers. Despite the mistreatment, Hushpuppy very clearly loves her dad and she knows that he loves her, despite his inability to effectively express it. This is critical for fathers to understand, especially dads who are facing particularly difficult circumstances.
For example, in NFI’s work with incarcerated fathers, one of the first obstacles we have to overcome in helping these men reconnect with their children is to convince them that despite what they may have done in the past, their children still need and love them.
In Hushpuppy’s case, she is willing to go on a long, hard journey to save her father’s life, despite the fact that he is not the Father of the Year. No, but he is her dad, and she desperately loves him.
By no means are we suggesting that dads should be callous in their behavior toward their kids, resting assured that their children will love them anyway. But what Hushpuppy teaches us dads is that we are entrusted with a sacred relationship that is forged in love, and it is up to us to hold up our end of the bargain and give our children the love they so desperately need and want from us.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is by no means a one dimensional film – you will learn a lot by watching it. But from NFI’s perspective, it is, at heart, a movie about why fathers matter. And for that reason, we have nominated it for the 2012 Fatherhood Movie of the Year.
Have you seen this film? What did you think about it?
While Hollywood gears up for the Oscars, we are asking you to select the "Fatherhood Movie of the Year" by voting on Facebook for the 2012 film that best communicates the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood.
The nominees are: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight), Brave (Disney Pixar), The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Disney), and Parental Guidance (20th Century Fox).
Voters can visit NFI’s official Facebook page, watch the trailers of the four nominated films, and vote for your favorite once per day through Oscar night, February 24.
The contest is part of our effort to shine a light on cultural messages that highlight the unique and irreplaceable role fathers play in their children's lives. Given the power of film in shaping public perceptions, we applaud these four films for their efforts to depict fatherhood in a realistic, positive, and powerful way.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (directed by Behn Zeitlin; starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry): “Faced with both her hot-tempered father's fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love” (source: IMDB.com). We nominated the film for its realistic depiction of a challenging, but loving relationship between a father and a daughter facing difficult circumstances.
Brave (directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell; starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, and Emma Thompson): “Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse” (source: IMDB.com). We nominated the film for its depiction of a fun-loving father who encourages his daughter’s adventurous spirit and who is affectionate and loving towards his wife.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green (directed by Peter Hedges; starring Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, and CJ Adams): “A childless couple buries a box in their backyard, containing all of their wishes for an infant. Soon, a child is born, though Timothy Green is not all that he appears” (source: IMDB.com). We nominated the film for its portrayal of a highly involved and loving father who is deeply, emotionally invested in his son’s life and well being throughout the entire film.
Parental Guidance (directed by Andy Fickman; starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, and Tom Everett Scott): “Artie and Diane agree to look after their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents need to leave town for work. Problems arise when the kids' 21st-century behavior collides with Artie and Diane's old-school methods” (source: IMDB.com). We nominated the film for its realistic depiction of the generational struggles a pair of loving grandparents face, for its positive portrayal of the importance of marriage, and for the important role the father and grandfather play in their families’ lives.
Use the hashtag #fmy12 on Twitter to get the word out and tell your friends which movie you vote for daily.
We started the "Fatherhood Movie of the Year" Contest last year. The 2011 film, Courageous, was selected by the public as the winner.
Parents have an "odd life," and Disney’s new family film The Odd Life of Timothy Green brings this to life on the big screen.
A parent's life is odd. We get this odd opportunity to shape a human being for a short time. When you think about it, our only real prerequisite for having this distinctive thing of childbearing take place is to be a male and a female living on the planet earth. We bring our preconceived notions, the way our parents did things, and the lame stuff our friends tell us into this bowl and mix it up for a few years. A very few short years.
By the time they go away to college, you have a person, and hopefully, after a few years of care and love and teaching, you have person who is mature and grown. You love this person, and you’ve shaped and molded this tiny person into a bigger one through cheesy gold fish and sliced hot dogs. After spending all of this time and money and worry and sacrifice, you learn it’s just starting when you send your prized possession to college. It’s really an odd life for parents.
When my wife mentioned that she might be pregnant -- “might” because you’re never really certain with the first pregnancy until several pregancy tests later -- I just didn’t believe it really happened. It’s quite magical, really.
The moment after you realize you or your significant other is pregnant, your mind shifts into parent mode. Seriously. Your mind takes you places you didn’t previously know about. You now have a parent brain. You dream about the gender and whom he or she will look like in the family. You dream about he or she acting like you or your spouse. You worry about things you never even thought about before you were a parent.
Before the baby came, do you remember all the worry and anxiety and stress over all the things that could go wrong?
Parents have a worry continuum. That contiuum goes from wanting a child, to being pregnant and worrying about said child. This worry and stress, I’m told goes on until the end, with peaks during the high school and college years.
But the odd life of parents is that you learn, as Jim and Cindy Green learn in the film, your kids aren’t really yours. You're just overseers who take care of those little ones on their journey. Whether you promise yourself as Jim does in the film and vow to, "...do things different than my dad" or you make silly parenting mistakes, you really are there to love and care and cherish the children given to you. The rest is not up to you.
It’s an odd thing, the life of parenting. From counseling your teen in relationships, to teaching them sports and music and love and life and death, we parents have been entrusted with something special, a very odd life.
This new family film from Disney will make you relive your parenting mistakes and triumphs and inspire you to cherish the moments you have with your kids. They grow up fast and leave the house, when the real worry and odd life continues.
For more on Disney’s new family film, visit our Timothy Green page.
The entertainment industry is eagerly looking forward to the presentation of the Oscars at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday. Meanwhile, National Fatherhood Initiative is looking to you to help us select the 2011 "Fatherhood Movie of Year."
As part of our efforts to shine a light on cultural messages that highlight the unique and irreplaceable role that fathers play in their children's lives, we've nominated four movies and are asking the public to vote for the one that best communicates the importance of involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood.
The four nominees are Courageous (Sherwood Pictures), Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Warner Bros.), Moneyball (Sony Pictures), and We Bought a Zoo (Twentieth Century Fox). Visit NFIs official Facebook page
to watch the trailers of these four films and vote for your favorite!
Courageous (directed by Alex Kendrick; starring Alex Kendrick and Ken Bevel) tells the story of four police officers struggling with their faith and their roles as husbands and fathers. When a tragedy strikes close to home, together they make a decision that will change all of their lives.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (directed by Stephen Daldry; starring Tom Hanks and Thomas Horn) tells the story of a nine-year-old who searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his beloved father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Moneyball (directed by Bennett Miller; starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill) tells the true story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players. A divorced father, Beane must balance his love for the game with his love of his daughter.
We Bought a Zoo (directed by Cameron Crowe; starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson) tells the story of a widowed father who moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo. Based on a true story, We Bought a Zoo shows how a father learns to embrace his new life with his two children.
Given the power of film in shaping public perceptions, NFI applauds these four films for their efforts to depict fatherhood in a positive and powerful way. Tell us which one you think deserves to be recognized as "Fatherhood Movie of the Year" 2011 by voting on our Facebook page everyday until Sunday, February 26 (the day of the Oscars).
I came across an article
some days ago in the Los Angeles Times
that reported on a rise in Hollywood films that featured parents in situations that led the moms and dads in the film to be stressed or anxious. Featured in the piece was Golden Globe Award-nominated film The Descendants starring Globe Best Actor winner George Clooney. In the film, Clooney plays a dad going through a tough time with a dying wife, betrayal, and attempting to get closer to his two daughters.
The film (which is excellent) takes the viewers through a lot of emotional ups and downs as Clooney exhibits the fear of having to raise his daughters without his spouse by his side. In the family film We Bought A Zoo, Matt Damon plays a widower with two young children struggling to stay close while Damons character navigates opening a zoo.
Another movie that was up for a few Golden Globe Awards, Carnage, also featured parents who argued with other parents over how to best deal with their fighting childrens issues. Although the film is billed as a black comedy, the core of the movie centers on how parents all have their own way of dealing with their children. The all-star cast of Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz delight in their roles, but the ugly war of words become the centerpiece instead of these adults finding a way to cope with one another.
Parents going through times in film, especially dads, is not a brand new concept although the recent slate of films would suggest this is the case. There is something about watching angst unfold onscreen that captivates and infuriates all at once; theres always an end to the movie but never to the realities that exist outside of the theater.
As said by Dr. Alexandra Barvi of New York University, In the past, people parented based on instincts and how they were raised, but now with technology and the ease of transmittable information, we know so much more about parenting. We do so much more thinking about parenting. You can't turn on a morning show without an expert talking about college anxiety, how to keep your kids busier.
Is Hollywood and television making it so that fathers new and old are overloaded with what can be seen as poor parenting tactics? Is the portrayal of parents in harrowing situations inspiring to dads who want to combat the anxiety that goes along with raising their children? Are fathers and mothers looking for ways to stave off the sometimes bleak imagery of parenthood and offer a reversal of sorts?
A good number of films with these sorts of plot tie-ins end with a happy moment of closure or triumph. There are even several films over the years that tell great stories about devoted dads who go through a lot of turmoil (and eventually joy) such as Big Fish and Finding Nemo. What we should focus on while viewing movies that feature dads and moms under duress is to make sure were talking about ways to avoid that struggle in our real lives.
Perhaps then, Hollywood can begin to tell a different story showing the endless possibilities of a blissful union between fathers, mothers, and their children.
If you're looking for a fun, family-friendly activity for this weekend, we recommend tuning into NBC for Family Movie Night at 8pm ET / 7 CT and enjoying Game of Your Life
, a great movie for all ages with some value "fatherhood" moments.
Launched in April 2010, Family Movie Night is NBC's effort, in partnership with Walmart and P&G, to provide families a cost-efficient entertainment opportunity that enables them to reconnect in a fun and engaging way. Additionally, during this block of time, NBC ensures that all advertising is kid-appropriate - something all parents will appreciate!
Tomorrow night's Family Movie Night features Game of Your Life
, a thoughtful movie which highlights a series of character choices freshman Zach Taylor must make that affect people around him. NBC has provided a discussion guide to help parents initiate meaningful conversations with their kids about the themes of the movie, which include loyalty, teamwork, and responsibility. Click here to get the discussion guide.Watch the trailer for Game of Your Life.
At National Fatherhood Initiative, we applaud NBC's efforts to enable families to spend time together in meaningful ways. If you, like us, sometimes feel frustrated by the lack of quality, kid-friendly TV and movie options, we think you'll find NBC's Family Movie Night to be a breath of fresh air.
We encourage you to make Family Movie Night part of your family's weekend this Friday! Pop some popcorn and get the kids together at 8pm ET tomorrow!
Today NFI's president Roland C. Warren is in Atlanta to present a Fatherhood Award to Sherwood Pictures for the film Courageous
, being released in theaters on September 30. We are excited about the incredible message this film has for fathers and plan to discuss themes and highlights from the movie in the next few weeks here on The Father Factor blog
, on our Facebook
, and in our weekly Dad Email
. Stay tuned to learn more!
In the meantime...
- Read the Press Release about why NFI is honoring Sherwood Pictures with a Fatherhood Award for Courageous here
- Watch the Trailer for Courageous here
- Watch Roland talking about the impact of Courageous here
- Order tickets to see Courageous in theaters, opening on September 30, here
As Roland said, Its rare that a movie has the potential to become a movement. But from the moment we saw Courageous
, we knew it had the power not only to entertain but to transform the lives of fathers. Congratulations to Sherwood Pictures, not only for receiving a Fatherhood Award today, but more importantly for their work to inspire men to be the courageous fathers their children need them to be.
It is no secret that movies, TV shows and media today often take a swing at fatherhood. Our President, Roland Warren, posted about this issue
around Fathers Day when he struggled to find a Fathers Day card that did something other than portray Dad as ignorant or detached. The release of "Despicable Me" however, brings attention to a both humorous and heartwarming side of fatherhood: transformation.
The ultimate super villain, Gru (voice by Steve Carrell), adopts three orphans and, throughout the movie, transforms from super villain to super dad. Though his intentions for adopting the three girls is undoubtedly despicable,
the consequences are both emotional and edifying as Gru slowly transforms from Super Bad to Super Dad."
A recent article
in USA Today discussed NFIs InsideOut Dad program and the positive, transformative effect of reconnecting incarcerated fathers with their children. Children statistically benefit by having a relationship with their father, but as every father, parent and child knows, fathers benefit as well.
We at NFI will be cheering for more movies like "Despicable Me" and pushing for a greater focus on these heartwarming and realistic effects of fatherhood in media portrayals of fatherhood. Check out the movie trailer:
One of NFI president Roland C. Warren’s new sayings is, “Every day, a dad must choose between courage and comfort. Because to be comfortable is never courageous, and to be courageous is never comfortable.”
I recently watched a movie that depicted a father’s transition from choosing the comfort of pursuing career success to the courage of being an involved father. Granted, this was an Eddie Murphy film, so it was more hilarious than sentimental, but it had an inspiring message that reflects the tension many dads feel between work and family.
In Imagine That
(2009 – Nickelodeon Movies), Eddie Murphy plays Evan, a financial advisor who has had phenomenal success in his career but has been pretty much absent as a father. It’s Evan’s week to have his daughter Olivia, and fulfilling his obligations as a father is an inconvenient hassle that he fears could derail his chance for a promotion - until he discovers that the security blanket that his seven-year-old daughter uses to visit her imaginary princess friends could be the key to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Olivia’s princesses magically share with her accurate predictions about stock futures and investment firm collapses. To get these unconventional insider tips, Evan has to enter Olivia’s imaginary world and, in the process, he fluctuates between genuinely bonding with his daughter and taking advantage of her to promote his career.
Olivia’s mother confronts Evan’s self-centeredness with a line that many dads need to hear: “You have two jobs – and one of them is being a father. She needs to know that you care just as much about that job as you do the other.” Ultimately, Evan realizes that being Olivia’s dad is more important than achieving financial success, even though that means walking away from some great career opportunities.
A couple months ago, I blogged about another father-friendly film
that deals with the tension between work and family. The producers of these two films are tapping into a common problem that dads face. In National Fatherhood Initiative’s 2006 study, Pop's Culture: A National Survey of Dads' Attitudes on Fathering
, the top obstacle that dads listed to being a good father was "work responsibilities" and #2 was media/pop culture. Given those two stats, and the fact that many media depictions of dads present them as a bumbling idiots, it’s refreshing to see films that portray dads making the courageous – but uncomfortable - choice to put their kids first.
," released last summer, is a fantastic film for young and old, and has some great fatherhood themes - showing how father absence can impact kids and how important it is for male mentors to step into their lives.
I love the part where Russell, the little boy in the film, is talking about how he doesn't see his dad very much. His dad just isn't that interested in him. He goes on to talk about eating ice cream with his dad, and counting the red and blue cars that go by. "It may sound boring, but I like it the best."
Oddly enough, walking through town to go get an ice cream cone is one of my favorite memories with my dad. We forget how special the mundane is; how those little moments can create opportunities and memories. Elaborate plans and fanfare are not always (or even usually) necessary.
What "boring" thing can you do for your kids today?