With Father's Day coming up this weekend, a film geek's thoughts turn to watching movies with her Dad. I miss the days when we would stay up late watching something attractively awful on TV that had my dad laughing his head off while simultaneously deriding the film. Dad likes a slightly dirty comedy -- something he can watch while saying, "Thank God your mother's not in the room," or even "You shouldn't be watching this," not that I was ever asked to leave the room, mind you. He is also fond of telling you how terrible a movie is, but then not changing the channel, particularly if buxom young females are onscreen.
I've seen very few movies in a theater with my dad, especially after we were old enough that he didn't have to sneak us off to the movies when my mom was holding some kind of meeting at home. Most of the movies I've seen with my dad have been on videotape or more interestingly, on non-cable TV (often UHF channels at odd times). He usually falls asleep in the exact same parts -- it has to be a pretty lively movie to keep my dad from catching a quick nap at some point or other.
I intended to write a Cinematical Seven that recommended movies anyone might watch with their fathers this weekend, movies that Dad has so much fun watching that you can't help liking the movie yourself, even if it's something you wouldn't watch on your own. I started brainstorming a generic list from The Great Escape to The Empire Strikes Back to Grumpy Old Men and then realized that everyone's dad is different, of course -- I have no idea which movies your father might prefer. So the following list includes movies I would like to watch with my dad this weekend if we weren't living 525 miles apart. If your father is like mine, this will be a perfect list for you. If not, I hope you'll share some of the movies you've liked watching with your dad, grandfather or father figure in the comments.
1. The Producers (1968)
My dad introduced me to the films of Mel Brooks when I was a little too young to appreciate them fully (I was a senior in high school before I understood why I wasn't supposed to have watched Young Frankenstein). The first Mel Brooks movie I was allowed to watch from start to finish was The Producers, perhaps because it didn't contain any four-letter words or overt sex scenes, so they figured it wasn't unsuitable for children. I got in more trouble for quoting that movie at the wrong times. I thought the remake was dreadful ... except for Uma Thurman, whom my dad would definitely appreciate. I can think of a number of Mel Brooks movies I'd like to watch with Dad again, even some of the ones that aren't very funny on their own, but this is definitely at the top of the list.
2. Kid Blue (1973) or any late 1960s/1970s comic Western
I would love to watch Kid Blue with my dad, because he's never seen it, but it's one of those bizarre Western comedies he likes so much. The cast includes Dennis Hopper, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson and Peter Boyle; it was written by Texas novelist/journalist Bud Shrake and directed by James Frawley, best known these days for The Muppet Movie. Unfortunately, this movie isn't on DVD (and why not?), so we'd probably have to settle for something else in that genre that we've watched together before: Support Your Local Gunfighter, The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox or Paint Your Wagon. Anything set in the Old West with lots of goofy jokes is sure to be a hit with Dad -- and of course, there's always Blazing Saddles (you don't need me to tell you how he roars over the campfire beans scene).
3. Harold and Maude (1971)
People give me odd looks when I tell them that my dad introduced me to Harold and Maude -- I'm not sure why. On the other hand, I'm not sure exactly why Dad likes this movie as much as he does. I can remember my parents going out to the movies every time this film played in repertory, although we were too young to go with them. When Harold and Maude finally appeared on videotape, my dad invited a bunch of people over for a movie party -- the only time I can ever remember him doing such a thing -- and especially noted that they should be on the lookout for the scenes with the priest, which were his favorites. Watching my dad watch the scene in which the priest advises Harold on marriage is funnier than anything actually in the movie.
4. Vacation (1983)
I may have been down on National Lampoon last week, but I did love Vacation. I actually saw the movie in a theater, before my dad did, and then introduced it to him later on TV. He loves Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca), and what happens to dog and later to herself. I am sorry to say that this is because Aunt Edna probably reminds my dad of a certain relative of ours, and he might have been imagining her in the same situation. Also, my dad loves just about anything with John Candy in it, no matter how brief.
5. The Cannonball Run (1981)
I suspect I'd probably find this Burt Reynolds movie a whole lot dumber than I did when I saw it growing up, and I wasn't that impressed with it back then. However, our family history owes a great debt to The Cannonball Run. My dad got a kick out of Dom DeLuise's character pretending to be a superhero (Captain Chaos), and when he found an old superhero mask himself, his own version of Captain America was born. My dad's alter ego made appearances for years at family gatherings, parties, swimming pools, and on one memorable occasion my mom would like to forget, a funeral procession. I'd see The Cannonball Run again if I could watch it with my family; and admittedly I'd like to catch Jackie Chan's performance, since I had no idea who he was back in the early 1980s.
6. Paper Moon (1973)
This is a ringer -- I've never seen Paper Moon with my father, and I'm not sure if he's ever watched it on his own. The comedy isn't as broad as the movies he normally prefers. But I like this movie so much (I once saw it twice in a month), and the father-daughter relationship between Ryan and Tatum O'Neal's characters is so charming, that the sentimental side of me feels that watching it with my dad would be a sweet father-daughter experience of our own. He'd like Madeline Kahn as Trixie Delight, in any case.
7. The Aristocrats (2005)
Ever since I saw this documentary about the dirtiest joke ever, I've been dying to see it again, but this time with my dad. I've longed to bring the DVD over to my parents' house, but I know my mom wouldn't be able to stand more than five minutes of the movie. She would be way too offended, and so would my sister. I sometimes imagine watching it with my dad, my Uncle Richie, and maybe my brothers. I can hear my dad roaring, "That's disgusting! That shouldn't be in a movie!" and then asking me to turn up the volume. He used to imitate Tim Conway's little-old-man walk, so he'd even like the very end. I'm not sure I'll ever get the chance, but a girl can dream.