These characters in film are a perfectly great reason to highlight what love looks like, the lengths that parents or guardians are willing to go to show it, and how amazing they can be in the face of most certain danger.
The movies listed are a mix of ratings, so please consider this if you intend on doing a watch with your kiddos. Mostly, I hope you’ll enjoy these amazing characters and have an opportunity to watch them at some point, if you haven’t already.
Spoiler Warning: If you haven’t seen any of the films mentioned below, please know that you are entering spoiler territory.
The von Trapps
The Sound of Music (1965)
Length: 2 hours, 52 minutes
The first mention on this list goes to a pair of performances from The Sound of Music. The late Christopher Plummer and his performance as Georg von Trapp in The Sound of Music is exceptional. Plummer in his fatherly role is initially strict in the way he runs his household, which leads to high expectations. This stern approach is tested with the new governess, Maria, who is assigned to care for the children. Maria, played by Julie Andrews, looks to expand the rules to allow the children to enjoy their youthful time before they’re grown and full of responsibilities.
Despite the firm hand presented to his children and Maria, it softens; however, his sharp renouncing of the Nazi Party does not waver and this type of straightforward messaging is crystal clear and positive for anyone watching. Standing up for what’s right is an old-aged tale, and since this story was based off a true story, it’s particularly important for families to see this kind of denouncement – particularly in a country where equality for all is still in question.
Andrews presents herself as a wonderful caretaker and mother. Despite the children’s disinterest with their new governance, she is able to gain their confidence and trust by showing them that life does not have to be so difficult. Fun, adventure, and singing can be a way to inspire one’s heart, which eventually leads the father to bonding with his children in a way that was once forgotten.
Marlin and Coral
Finding Nemo (2003)
Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Although Coral’s role in Finding Nemo is short, her impact is long-lasting. Realizing that a barracuda presents a danger to her eggs, she rushes toward them in the ultimate hope of protecting them. Although Marlin is knocked out and we don’t see what happens next, we do know that one egg does survive, along with Marlin. Her sacrifice allowed Nemo to survive.
Although Marlin is a very nervous and overprotective parent, which is completely understandable and not at all relatable (*nervous laughter*), we know that he only wants to make sure Nemo is always safe. Despite the vastness that comes with living in the ocean, his inability to let his son do certain things leads to Nemo going out into the open waters and then become captured by divers. This is a story that represents a very clear message: we can’t always protect our children and we can’t predict what might happen.
So, Marlin eventually learns this after traveling great distances to find his son. He realizes that he has to depend on others, and this includes Nemo. Knowing that he can’t do everything himself also translates to his parenting. He has to let his son learn how to do things on his own, even if it terrifies him. Nope, I don’t relate to Marlin at all (*nervous laughter again*). Among all else, Marlin learns to trust his son and form a bond where Nemo feels listened to and respected. That’s always an important message to see on film.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Length: 1 hour, 57 minutes
Two scenes in particular are a major reason to have Officer Davis listed here. Yes, the scene where he drops off Miles to school is hilarious. Throughout the entire movie, we see Miles Morales take on the mantle of Spider-Man. There are plenty of questions involved with obtaining superpowers and ultimately becoming a superhero. How do you do it?
Yes, Miles is mentored by other Spideys who come onto the scene, but it’s Davis’ words and actions that truly take hold for me. He admits that he doesn’t always know what to do or say, and that by itself is an incredible thing for parents to say to their kids. This notion of being perfect gets shifted, letting Miles (and other kids) that it’s completely normal to be different or make mistakes along the way. Being a superhero isn’t any different than being a person. Life is hard. Making choices can also be challenging, but being ourselves and doing what we want is at the core of the decisions we make moving forward.
So, back to that opening scene where Davis embarrasses Miles in front of his school. I love this scene, because it’s a scene where Miles is in the early stages of trying to figure things out. Davis on the loud speaker, telling Miles to say “I love you,” is also a way of saying – it’s okay to just be yourself. Don’t be embarrassed or worried about what others think. Relating to a later scene, Davis says, “Whatever you choose to do with it, you’ll be great.”
These two scenes remind me of a phrase we sometimes say in my own house, “You do you.” It’s a way for us to tell our own kids that it’s okay to be you.
A Quiet Place (2018)
Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes
In a world where making a sound leads to deadly monsters killing you, Evelyn and Lee Abbott, played by Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, do whatever they can to protect their children. This movie presents a reality where families interact using sign language. Despite the horrors of the creatures within the film, the movie presents a positive outlook at communication with one another. Words don’t have to be said to say how much someone is loved.
Evelyn and Lee’s daughter, Regan, played by Millicent Simmonds, questions her role in the family. It’s a clear representation that kids and teenagers might feel unloved or unappreciated as they continue to grow. Despite Regan being unable to hear, the family depends on each member to help. This is especially important as Blunt’s character is pregnant. The very idea of trying to give birth without making a sound while menacing lanky creatures slowly creep inches away is terrifying, and quite agonizing to watch. Unfortunately, the path of finding a way to work together does not always mean success. And this story ends like it begins – with sadness.
When all else fails and a monster is about to kill his two children who are trapped inside of a truck, Lee does the only thing he can to save them. He makes noise. Though, before he does, he makes sure to heal a wound with Regan, letting her know that her inability to hear does not make her any less special or loved. His final words, signed to her: “I love you. I have always loved you.” The message is made devastatingly clear when he follows up his sign to her with a very loud scream.
Batman Begins (2005)
Length: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Alfred is probably the definition of ultimate guardian. He cares for a young Bruce Wayne after losing their parents in a tragic robbery-gone-wrong. His belief in Bruce, and also as Batman, does not wane at any point. Alfred continually tries to highlight the responsibilities associated with the Wayne family name, while also making sure to care for Bruce when he becomes the Dark Knight.
Besides being perfectly comical, his love of Bruce shines in moments of great tragedy. When Ra’s Al Ghul burns down the mansion with his surrogate son left to die, he doesn’t bat an eye. He fights his way inside and lends encouraging words to get Bruce away from danger. “What is the point of all those push-ups if you can’t even lift a bloody log?” Not only is it funny, it lets Bruce know that the end is not near and there’s more fight left in him.
Above all else, he’s there as a constant reminder that his love for Bruce will never fail. Despite the failures or losses, he’s there to support Bruce through all of it.
Alfred: “Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
Bruce: “You still haven’t given up on me?”
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Length: 2 hours, 17 minutes
Now, Sarah Connor isn’t a cyborg, but she’s seemingly as relentless as one in T2. Not only does she feel the need to take responsibility for saving the world, she’s willing to work with the very cyborg that had previously hunted her down. She was able to look beyond such a horrifying experience and do whatever is needed to make sure her son has a future, while ending the Skynet system that creates the war of machines against humans.
This film highlights how much an experience can change a person, but at the core of it all, Connor wants to do whatever it takes to make sure her son, John, survives to ultimately save the future. She’s willing to go toe-to-toe with an advanced cyborg. In one of the most compelling moments to watch in theater, seeing an injured Sarah Connor reload a shotgun and knocking back the T-1000 is an incredible feat. Despite the lack of shells to finish the job, she proved that she was willing to stand her ground and face the end to ensure her son lived.
Man on Fire (2004)
Length: 2 hours, 26 minutes
John Creasy is not a father in Man on Fire, but he learns to love a child like a daughter and protect her above all other things. Yes, there are people in this movie that are truly awful. In this particular story, the parent uses his own daughter, Pita, to collect a ransom; however, it all falls apart and she is taken. Despite Creasy feeling lost in life early in the movie, he finds happiness by bonding with the girl he’s hired to protect.
When Pita is abducted, the idea of holding those accountable becomes fixed for him. There isn’t any greater feeling for Creasy than seeking vengeance for those who made him lose the one who made him realize life was worth living. “She showed him it was okay to live again.” Despite this film’s dedication to revenge, this movie highlights without question what one is willing to do to protect the one they love. Although I always hate the ultimate sacrifice, this is undoubtedly one of the best movies to highlight (quite explosively) how taking care of our children is the most important thing in the world.
Creasy’s dedication to Pita is one of my favorite things.
Above all else, one thing that these characters have in common for me is this feeling that comes from certain phrases or actions. Some more than others, but there is an emotional connection I feel with characters in movies. It’s an important reason to highlight why #StoriesMatter. Finding a connection with characters, whether it be to escape reality into a fictional world, find hope in a dystopian world, or seek comfort in those who are meant to protect their children above all else; it’s all worth discovering and attaching ourselves to these characters.
What other parenting roles in film do you believe represent positivity that are wonderful for you or your kids to watch? Do you have a favorite from this list? Share your comments below, and if you want to see more movie-focused content, don’t forget to like and share this content with all of your geeky friends.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.