With Father’s Day just around the corner, I’m laying out my top movie picks about the man, the myth, the legend: Dad. To pick this list, I wanted movies that really captured the bond between father and child. Thus, movies like “Taken,” which are exciting to watch but largely don’t involve father-child interaction, were excluded from this list. I also wanted to keep the list family-friendly by picking movies rated at PG-13 and younger.

Welcome to my list of the best single dad movies to make you laugh, cry, or both.

A movie to make you laugh: Mrs. Doubtfire (PG-13)

Movie cover of the film Mrs. Doubtfire father's dayWhen Daniel’s wife, Miranda, files for divorce, she takes their three children with her. So, when Miranda puts out an ad for a nanny, Daniel decides to apply — disguised as a British lady named Mrs. Doubtfire.

Why Daniel is a great dad: Daniel is a flawed character. Seriously. He does some very questionable things. First and foremost, disguising himself as a British woman in order to con his ex-wife into hiring him as their children’s nanny. Most of “Mrs. Doubtfire” is Daniel learning how to balance these two dynamics: the fun dad and the responsible caregiver. His dedication to his kids at the start of the movie makes him a good dad, but by the end of the movie, he’s a great dad.

Why we love it: Have you ever laughed so hard you peed yourself? Do you want to? Watch this movie. Perfect for a Father’s Day family night!

Fun Fact: On set, Robin Wilson’s own son didn’t recognize him in his Mrs. Doubtfire costume.

Father and daughter laughing in Mrs. Doubtfire

A movie to make you cry: The Pursuit of Happyness (PG-13)

the pursuit of happiness movie poster will smith jayden smithWhen Chris’s wife leaves him and he loses his apartment, the single father finds himself homeless and living on the street with his young son. Chris’s job as the salesman of an unpopular medical device is barely enough to survive on. His only chance of saving himself and his son is his unpaid internship as a stockbroker, an internship that is insanely competitive and which he has staked all his hopes on.

Why Chris is a great dad: Chris’s situation seems impossible. He’s homeless with a dead-end job and a young son who can’t look after himself. His only chance of digging out of the hole he’s in is impossibly long hours, an inner wellspring of resourcefulness, and sheer courage. You wouldn’t think the movie would have time to show the tender relationship between Chris and his son, but it does.

Why we loved it: I said it would make you cry, and it will. This movie has all the feels.

Fun Fact: The boy who plays Chris’s son in the movie is Will Smith’s actual son, Jaden Smith.

From The Pursuit of Happiness a father gives his son advice

A movie to make you laugh and cry: To Kill a Mockingbird (PG-13)

to kill a mockingbird movie poster for father's dayBased on the novel by Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is centered around the trial and conviction of a black man named Tom Robinson unjustly charged with raping a white girl in a small Southern town in the 1930s. The movie is narrated by Scout, a young girl and innocent observer of the events unfolding around her. Scout’s father, Atticus, is the lawyer assigned to represent Tom Robinson and, much to the disapproval of many of his neighbors, Atticus intends to defend Tom to the best of his ability.

Why Atticus is a great dad: Atticus is given a choice with no easy solution. Accepting the case could put his family in danger but refusing it would be a betrayal of every value he’s lived for. In the end, Atticus chooses to represent Tom, saying:

If this thing’s hushed up it’ll be a simple denial to Jem of the way I’ve tried to raise him. Sometimes I think I’m a total failure as a parent, but I’m all they’ve got. Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I’ve tried to live so I can look squarely back at him.. if I connived at something like this, frankly I couldn’t meet his eye, and the day I can’t do that I’ll know I’ve lost him. I don’t want to lose him and Scout, because they’re all I’ve got.

What we loved about it: It’s not often I’ll say a movie is just as good as the book it’s based on, but – The movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” is every bit as good as the novel it’s based on. There, I said it. And if you have a dad who prefers classic movies, this is a great one to share with him on Father’s Day.

Fun fact: To Kill a Mockingbird was filmed after color technology was available. Filming the movie in black and white was an aesthetic choice made by director Robert Mulligan.

Atticus tucking Scout into bed

Bonus: A movie you probably haven’t seen before: The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit (G)

Movie cover of the film The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit father's dayFred has two problems: First, his boss has given him an impossible deadline to create a sales campaign for a new stomach pill, Aspercel. Second, his daughter Helen is dreaming of a horse of her own, a dream Fred can’t possibly afford. The solution? A horse named “Aspercel,” ridden by a beautiful young girl (i.e. his daughter, Helen) in show jumping competitions attended by upper-class, wealthy patrons. Now Fred just needs to pitch it to his boss.

Why Fred is a great dad: “The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit” has some outright laugh-out-loud moments but at its core, it’s a movie about a dad who’s trying to understand his maturing, adolescent daughter. While Fred and Helen have good intentions and truly care about each other, they don’t always communicate well and don’t make great choices. When this father-daughter duo finally learns to understand each other, they find the solution to all of their problems.

Why we loved it: Out of all the movies, this one seems the most realistic. Yeah, I know the main character devices an entire marketing campaign out of getting a free horse for his daughter, but these characters are all just… likable. So… what’s not to like?

Fun Fact: Albarado, the horse who played Aspercel, won a PATSY Award for his role in this film.

Children wrapping in blankets and laying on the couch watching a movie
How about that Father’s Day movie night, everyone? We’ve got even more movie picks for you to enjoy in our Spring movies blog!