Martin McDonagh’s brilliant film comes off like a warmed-over 1995 Quentin Tarantino ripoff, at first: two hitmen (hilarious Colin Farrell, working those beetle brows, and Brendan Gleeson) have to hide out in “fooking Bruges,” the medieval city that looks like “a fairy tale.” But as the movie progresses, ribald and hilarious as it is, it becomes a touching story of life and death. Perfect for the dad who wants to be blindsided.
This Peter Bogdanovich classic has a father-and-daughter con artist duo traveling across the south. Tatum O’Neal made her funny and fresh debut in this film, which made her the youngest Oscar winner in history, accepting the gold man when she was ten years old.
Robot and Frank
A poignant, provocative movie about an aging jewel thief, played by Frank Langella, and his new “assistant,” Robot, voiced by Peter Sarsgaard, Robot and Frank comes off like a smart, witty buddy comedy but — if you think about it, young Gen X-er/millennial — is actually a chilling vision of what our future could look like as we age.
The story of Ip Man is a popular one for filmmakers, but when Wong Kar-Wai gets his hands on it, the result is heartbreakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, the American edition is somewhat choppy (Harvey Weinstein-ized), with mucho voice-over and awkward transitions, but the highlights are so fantastic that it’s still worth watching.
In the Loop
Maybe your dad likes Veep, which is a very funny show. But if your dad has not had the chance to go the full Armando Iannucci, In the Loop is a very good introduction. Essentially a savage satire about how a single comment from a British politician can create a war, the film mashes up characters from Iannucci’s beloved BBC/Hulu series The Thick of It with Americans like James Gandolfini, and the results are perfect.
Taika Waititi is a New Zealand writer, director, and actor who’s won an Academy Award (for the short film Two Cars, One Night) — and written and directed Flight of the Conchords episodes. He is dryly funny, and Boy is a sweet, tough story about a young, Michael Jackson-besotted kid in New Zealand who reunites with his layabout dad.
We all know your dad loves Cameron Crowe films, and we can’t really recommend Elizabethtown because it’s ridiculous. But Say Anything, that’s the best. It’s got the primo John Cusack performance, and the moving father-daughter relationship between virginal valedictorian Ione Skye and Frasier’s dad himself, John Mahoney. Always worth a watch.
Hilarious stuff featuring ur-dad Eliot Gould? YES. War is a horror, and the combat surgeons in the Korean war get through it with shenanigans. Very funny, very dark, and one of the best films to herald the golden age of ’70s cinema, making stars out of the cast.
Devil in a Blue Dress
So far, the first (and only) movie to feature Walter Mosley’s detective character Easy Rawlins, this ’90s noir has Denzel Washington as the regular-Joe-turned-PI, with a palpable sense of noir doom. Plus: Don Cheadle absolutely pops as Rawlins’ buddy, Mouse.
Not Fade Away
Dads love The Sopranos, and dads love the late James Gandolfini, and dads love dad-rock and cool rock ‘n’ roll from the ’60s, so why not go with this underrated flick about the birth of a rock band from Sopranos genius David Chase? The film isn’t perfect, but by the time we get to the weird, sublime ending, it is quite a journey.
Cast Idris Elbra, probably best known (for now) as The Wire‘s Stringer Bell, as a tortured detective with a truckload of emotional baggage in an updated BBC cop show featuring really messed-up crimes in a tough, gritty London, and you have the recipe for something your dad can watch after he’s done with The Wire.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were the best friends of all time, and in this wonderful William Goldman-scripted classic, dreamy actors Robert Redford and Paul Newman play the dashing outlaw duo. It’s funny, too: can you ever forget the scene where Butch, to quote Goldman’s screenplay, “delivers the most aesthetically exquisite kick in the balls in the history of the modern American cinema”?
Is your dad a human being? Then he’ll probably like it. Or, to be more specific, if your dad likes Mad Men, Jack Lemmon’s funny neurosis, perfect movies, and satires of the working man’s burden, then Billy Wilder’s hilarious classic, easily one of the best films of all time, is the movie for him.
Dads love Richard Gere because he’s a silver fox who rules in the boardroom and the bedroom, and Arbitrage is a very ripped-from-the-headlines film that asks the question: Can a hedge fund manager like Richard Gere have it all? The answer is full of intrigue, and features actors like Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling.
What About Bob?
A terrifically funny Bill Murray turn drives this comedy into the sublime. Murray is Bob, the patient of psychiatrist Richard Dreyfuss, and Bob is so scared to be in the world that he crashes his doctor’s family vacation just to figure out how to be a person. Goofball anarchy ensues.