Movies involving sad dads?
January 25, 2012 8:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for movies in which the main character is a divorced father.

I'm facing an impending separation from my wife. We have two small children and this is the absolute last thing I ever wanted, but I'm beginning to see the inevitability of it, and I would like some inspiration. I am depressed and angry and lack the attention span to commit to reading books right now. Can anyone recommend some movies featuring strong fathers who struggle with divorce or estrangement from their spouse?
posted by Ratio to Human Relations (40 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Pursuit of Happyness.
posted by dfriedman at 8:30 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Kramer vs. Kramer. But it's a heartbreaker.
posted by up in the old hotel at 8:30 PM on January 25, 2012

Kramer vs. Kramer is the classic recommendation here. Maybe not the best thing for your frame of mind right now. Movies with widowed fathers are much more common and may represented better/stronger single dad role models. (my favorite is 10 Things I Hate About You...). Mrs. Doubtfire (might sound silly but I remember my dad absolutely refusing to watch it after my parents' divorce). Here's a list from the Huffington Post.
posted by kickingthecrap at 8:33 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by cazoo at 8:39 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, George Clooney plays a great divorced dad in One Fine Day, though it's not really "about" divorce. (There's also Jeff Daniels in The Squid and the Whale, though I would not characterize him as "strong." More of a don't.) Bella in Twilight lives with her dad, and I think they come to a sort of understanding that's almost sweet; if only the rest of the relationships in the text weren't so creepy.
posted by kickingthecrap at 8:42 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Die Hard
posted by mollymayhem at 8:42 PM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

The Santa Claus.
posted by littlesq at 8:47 PM on January 25, 2012

argg. Clause, not Claus.
posted by littlesq at 8:48 PM on January 25, 2012

Life as a House
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:49 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Story of Us - although this doesn't totally fit the mold because of the ending.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:52 PM on January 25, 2012


Liar, Liar

Night at the Museum
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:54 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think there's a lot in The Descendants you might relate to... even though the main character is not exactly a strong father when we meet him.
posted by argonauta at 9:01 PM on January 25, 2012

It's not a movie, but Louie CK's current show (called "Louie") has a lot of funny, insightful, honest stuff about being a single dad.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:01 PM on January 25, 2012 [10 favorites]

posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:02 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Previewed, was coming in to say 'Louie'.
Louis is the star of 'Louie', btw. Small difference.
posted by artdrectr at 9:06 PM on January 25, 2012

Nick Naylor, the slick tobacco industry lobbyist in Thank You for Smoking shares custody of his son with his estranged wife.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 9:08 PM on January 25, 2012

I highly recommend Definitely, Maybe.
posted by seriousmoonlight at 9:21 PM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Totally seconding the not-a-movie but still awesome and hilarious perspective of Louis C.K. on Louis.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:32 PM on January 25, 2012

I'm going to echo the above poster who mentioned "Twilight" - Charlie (Billy Burke) is a fantastic movie divorced dad. But you do need to stomach a lot of vampire-and-werewolf stuff.

I don't know what the circumstances of his "single dadness" are, or if you like showtunes, but maybe Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Depending on your kids' ages, that could be one to watch together.
posted by purlgurly at 9:43 PM on January 25, 2012

Not a movie, but I highly recommend Veronica Mars. The main character lives with her dad (who has been a single dad and separated from his wife for some time) and they have a great relationship. He's the best TV dad. (And I like Castle too, Bones, and Suburgatory -- single dads all.)

Ten inch hero has a divorced dad in it, from the perspective of the woman dating him. It's kind of a quirky weird movie.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:47 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mrs. Doubtfire
posted by Asherah at 9:53 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Author, Author is great.
posted by nicwolff at 9:59 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Louie, and I came to suggest Twilight also-- I found the movies tremendously boring, but the father/daughter relationship was the one thing that rang true for me, as a girl who went through her teen years with a single dad. However, the first Twilight movie made me cry because of the way Bella pulled the wool over her father's eyes (and ran away from home! for some horribly strung-out-looking version of Pattinson), and for obvious reasons it might be more relatable to your daughter(s)(?) than to you.

Good luck. My parents got a divorce when I was 13, and I love them both, but my dad did an amazing job raising his four daughters and we're very close. I'm in my twenties now and away from home, and when I feel lonely, I always remember my relationship with my dad. You may be struggling with the separation, but put your kids first and they will be able to tell. They will always have that. Parenting double standards aside, having a great dad is a really special thing.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:06 PM on January 25, 2012

The movie that came out recently, directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Steven Dorff as a divorced Hollywood actor with a daughter played by Elle Fanning , "Somewhere"
posted by bearette at 11:16 PM on January 25, 2012

It's not a movie, and it's about a widower, but when I was a kid and my best friend's mom left his dad, I connected more with this "sitcom" than anything else.
posted by Sphinx at 11:25 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

man, sphinx, I was just coming to post that.
posted by mephron at 11:30 PM on January 25, 2012

Crazy Stupid Love.
posted by shallowcenter at 2:52 AM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Unbreakable features the main character being separated from his wife, but then tragedy and miracles put that process on hold. I don't remember it ending with something so neat as them truly getting back together, but I could be wrong.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:04 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Spielberg/Cruise War of the Worlds
posted by Hugobaron at 3:40 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Run, Fatboy, Run
posted by scruss at 4:57 AM on January 26, 2012

weatherman is a great one.
posted by austere at 7:49 AM on January 26, 2012

sorry, the correct title is the weather man.
posted by austere at 7:52 AM on January 26, 2012

Me and You and Everyone We Know
posted by Houyhnhnm at 10:06 AM on January 26, 2012

Then She Found Me is a rather lighthearted rom-com about divorce and parenthood, and the story revolves around the female protagonist, but her main love interest is a recently divorced man, who's obviously hurting but determined to be a good dad. Not a spectacular movie, mind you, but the tone is humane and optimistic, which I think you might appreciate. Oh, and a strange cameo by Salman Rushdie.
posted by sively at 11:27 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I loved the father-daughter relationship in She's All That. The movie is about as formulaic as they come (IMDB summary: "A high school jock makes a bet that he can turn an unattractive girl into the school's prom queen."), but the formula is very well done and the father-daughter relationship stands out as really good. The father (played by Kevin Pollak) answering Jeopardy questions hilariously wrong is one of my favorite moments.

Disclaimer: My feelings about this movie may be unreasonably biased by the severe teenage crush I had on Rachael Leigh Cook, but I still think that it was a pretty good movie.
posted by Betelgeuse at 11:37 AM on January 26, 2012

About A Boy may work for you. He's not his father but has strong interplay between him and the boy.
posted by artdrectr at 12:29 PM on January 26, 2012

Believe it or not, but Mr. Popper's Penguins, while masquerading as a kids movie with penguin antics, is primarily about the role of fathers and their children, in the context of a separation.
posted by quoth_the_raven at 1:17 PM on January 26, 2012

Biutiful's Javier Bardem.
Biutiful is the story of Uxbal – a single father who struggles to reconcile fatherhood, love, spirituality, crime, guilt and mortality amid the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona ...
Its a rather depressing movie, with some excellent acting by Bardem.
posted by xqwzts at 2:33 PM on January 26, 2012

Seconding Definitely, Maybe, for it's gentle and optimistic portrayal of both single parenthood and the possibility of new love (for both father and daughter).
posted by AthenaPolias at 6:26 AM on January 27, 2012

Thanks everyone.
posted by Ratio at 9:41 AM on January 30, 2012

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