It's not hard to see why Paul Giamatti snagged a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination for his role as Barney Panofsky in 'Barney's Version,' out this week. 'Barney's Version' is based on the Mordecai Richler novel, and Giamatti is pitch-perfect as the selfish womanizer protagonist -- you can't help but root for him. Even when he's hitting on one of his wife's friends at his own wedding.
It should also come as no surprise that the movie's poster features a nice shot of Barney bonding with his dear old dad, Izzy, played by Dustin Hoffman. Many of the movie's best scenes feature the two enjoying their own special brand of father-son moments, like when Barney loses it on his hoity-toity father-in-law for looking down on salt-of-the-earth Izzy, a retired cop.
Barney turns to his dad for advice about everything, including whether he should divorce his rich, pretty wife to pursue her friend. Izzy, in turn, provides classic nuggets of wisdom like, "She's a well-bred woman who makes a nice kugel and has a beautiful rack. Many successful marriages have been built on far less." (As an interesting bit of father-son trivia, Dustin's real-life son, Jake Hoffman, plays Barney's son Michael in the flick.)
In honor of this week's release of 'Barney's Version,' and in keeping with the holiday spirit of family bonding, here's a list of my top five favorite father-son movie duos.
1. Jim and Mr. Levenstein (Jason Biggs and Eugene Levy) in 'American Pie'
Sure, Stifler (and his mom!) have a lot of memorable scenes, but it's truly Jim's dad who steals the movie. His awkward fatherly advice is so, well, awkward. Like when he admits he did a fair bit of masturbating when he was younger -- though never with baked goods. His heart's in the right place, which is what makes him so darn loveable.
2. Indiana and Henry Jones Sr. (Harrison Ford and Sean Connery) in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'
What's up with Senior? Even after Indy heroically swoops in to save him from the Nazis, he still calls him Junior! Indy can't get no respect. I guess it's understandable that it takes a lot to impress Senior, though, considering he can take out bad guys with the squirt of a pen and bed the same hot blonds as his son. Pretty bad-ass for a bookish old dude obsessed with the Holy Grail.
3. Clark and Rusty Griswold (Chevy Chase and Anthony Michael Hall) in 'National Lampoon's Vacation'
Ah, the classic man-to-man talk. Remember when Clark shares a beer with Rusty after their car breaks down in the middle of the desert? The best part of the talk: When Rusty has to remind his silly old dad what his own daughter's name is. (Audrey, in case you were wondering.) Clark may be goofy and embarrassing, but any dad who takes his kids on so many awesome vacations is pretty cool in my books.
4. Buddy the Elf and Walter Hobbs (Will Ferrell and James Caan) in 'Elf'
One of the best parts about 'Elf' is watching the perpetually optimistic Buddy slowly grow on grumpy old Walter. It's hard to believe these two are even from the same planet, much less the same DNA. As Buddy finagles some much-needed cheer into Walter's world, Walter helps Buddy get in touch with his, well, less Elf-y, more manly side.
5. Frank Abagnale Jr. and Sr. (Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Walken) in 'Catch Me if You Can'
The most fascinating relationship in the movie is the one between Frank and his uptight FBI pursuer, played by Tom Hanks. But many of the film's more memorable moments revolve around the bond between Frank and his father. Frank idolizes his hard-working father, who unwittingly sparks his son's career as a con-man when he gives him his first check book. Remarkably, when Senior finds out what his son has been up to, he doesn't blow a gasket. Instead, he's curious about Frank's motives and the two have a heart-to-heart. Awww.