How Pixar Movies Can Make You a Better Dad

We had on The Incredibles the other night and I was stuck by a crazy thought. Bob Parr, as Bob_Parrincredible as he is as a super hero, is actually more endearing as a dad. When he’s playing catch with his son or hugging his daughter, there’s a certain gleam in his eyes that you don’t get when he’s fighting crime.

I’m not trying to be sappy here. I’m not. I’m just making an observation.

That made me think. Of course that’s how it comes across. Pixar movies are made primarily by parents who live in the world world. They know firsthand the trials and joys of parenthood. And it comes across crystal-clear in their films.

Finding Nemo is perhaps the most obvious one, and possibly the best father/son movie ever made. It reminds us as parents not to take our kids for granted, because they can be taken from us at any moment. And that’s a reality made even more clear as foster to adopt parents.

marlin and nemo share one last hug

Actually, Pixar movies even make us closer to our kids just by their mere existence. My son and I bonded when I took him to see The Good Dinosaur last year for his birthday. Sure, he couldn’t talk yet, but it was an experience we got to share together that we’ll always have. It was fun!

It’s not like going to the latest installment of Ice Age (not Pixar) where, as a grown-up, I’d likely fall asleep.

heart-in-handPixar films are brightly colored adult movies that just happen to be appropriate for kids. It would be inappropriate for me to gather our kids on the couch to watch Apocalypto, but it’s far from a sacrifice to snuggle with my daughter and watch Brave for the eightieth time.

Most Pixar movies appeal to us as parents. They show us the world through our own children’s point of view so that we can better understand them and better parent them.

I can’t count the number of times I put the computer away to play with my kids because Inside Out reminded me that my kids will always remember these days. It’s my job to make their memories yellow/gold. Not blue. So I chase them around the house pretending to be Bruce the shark or Mor’du.

Inside-Out-2

Woody couldn’t have said it any better: “I can’t stop Andy from growing up, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

That’s a haunting and encouraging reminder. But multiple viewings of Toy Story 2 has implemented that message in my head permanently. And then, of course, the next Toy Story installment screams out: “No, seriously! Your kids are going to grow up really, really fast! Don’t bloody miss it! Don’t miss it! Don’t miss it!”

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Don’t throw your daughter’s bow in the fire. Don’t tell your kids to act happy when everything sucks. Buy your kids lots of toys (not video games). Go on road trips and put the brake on at rest stops. Don’t lose your temper over their limitations. Don’t try to convince them that a rock is a seed. Teach them to slow down. Cross the ocean if you have to to find them. Your kids are your greatest adventure. Teach them to cook!

I’m not an expert parent and will never claim to be. But Pixar movies have been a better parenting resource than any psychology book I can think of.

Have a happy Father’s Day and take your kids to see Finding Dory. Or buy them a bunch of toys. Make today about the kids, because without them, there would be no Father’s Day.

The Best Father’s Day Movies

Father’s Day is coming up. The holiday holds true for many people in different walks of life. Maybe you’re still living with your father, or you’re far away from him. Maybe your father died. Perhaps, even, you’re a father yourself now, as this will be my first Father’s Day as a dad. As you well know, there are many movies about father/child relationships. I’ve compiled a short list of some of my favorite movies about dads and their relationship with their kids.

After all, if you’re struggling with planning the perfect Father’s Day, keep in mind that sometimes the best thing a father can have is a couch, a box of pizza, and a movie.

Big-Fish-movie-poster

Big Fish – This may be my favorite Tim Burton movie; it’s a bit weird, but not at all creepy. It’s the story of a grown son trying to put together his dad’s fabrications of life in the truest sense.

Best line: “A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.”

bill cosby

Bill Cosby, Himself – This is a hysterical standup done by Bill Cosby. As engaging as any 90-minute movie, and funnier than most comedies I’ve seen. Cosby takes the audience on a whirlwind adventure from dating to marriage to childbirth to kicking the kids out of the house. It’s impossible not to crack up, especially if you’ve “been there.”

Best line: “We [parentes] don’t want justice. We want quiet!” 

dan_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85Dan in Real Life – A sweet movie about a widowed father trying to raise his three daughters while visiting the extended family. Steve Carrell shows a bit of his serious/charming side in this one.

Best line: “Love is not a feeling, Mr. Burns. It’s an ability.”

despicalbe meDespicable Me – Another Steve Carrell favorite, more on the silly side. Despicable Me is considered, in our house, to be nearly as good as a Pixar movie. Maybe it’s the whole adoption thing we like so much. After all, three adorable girls can soften even the hardest of hearts, right?

Best line: “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!” (That was for you, Sarabeth)

fiddler on roofFiddler on the Roof – And while we’re talking about movies with dads raising three daughters, I’ll throw in this gem. What man can’t relate to Tevye, who just wants a little more money, who just wants to keep his wife’s affections, and who just wants to keep his daughters at home? I’ll admit, as funny as this movie can be, some scenes are pretty tough to get through, especially if you have daughters of your own.

Best line: [To God] “If money is a curse, then smite me with it!”

MSDFAOF EC079Father of the Bride – If you haven’t seen this a million times already… I just don’t know what to say to you.

Best line: “This was the moment I’d been dreading for the past six months. Well, actually for the past 22 years.”

finding nemoFinding Nemo – Search the entire ocean to find my lost son? No problem. Letting him grow up… eh, not so easy.

Best line: “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”

GoofyMovieA Goofy Movie – You know, I’ve met some people who didn’t like Lord of the Rings (they’re not my friends). I’ve also heard of some people not liking pizza. But I have never heard of anybody – ever – not liking A Goofy Movie. My dad, in fact, would sit and watch this with me growing up, and getting him to watch any cartoon was like pulling teeth. Yeah, this is the ultimate Father’s Day movie.

Best line: Goofy: “You look just like I did at your age.” Max: “Please don’t say that, Dad.”

mrs-doubtfireMrs. Doubtfire – Dress up as a woman to see your kids everyday? Er, um, sure thing. I think most dads would get this. Robin Williams at his absolute best here. (BTW, they’re working on a sequel… what do you think about that?)

Best line: “My first day as a woman and I’m getting hot flashes.”

parenthoodParenthood – Another Steve Martin favorite and directed by Ron Howard (what a pair, huh?). This is the movie that inspired NBC’s awesome show Parenthood. Just a good flick about how parenthood never ever ends – and there’s never a break. (Ironically, don’t watch this with the kids around.)

Best line: Karen: “Do you really have to go?” Gil: “My whole life is have to.”

shrek-forever-afterShrek Forever After – In an effort to erase the deplorable Shrek the Third from existence, Dreamworks puts together a valiant effort in this fourth installment. Shrek is in over his head with this whole fatherhood thing, and he gets his wish to have everything back the way it was before he got married.

Best line: “Are my kids cute or do they make people uncomfortable?” 

What are your favorite movies about fathers? List ’em bellow, I’d love to hear them!