Single Father Flicks


Ava Daly

The family that flicks together, sticks together.

50% of the American population and I have parents that aren’t together anymore. To be more specific, 164 million people have parents that are divorced, separated, broken-up, or barely know each other at all. Let me clarify that no, this will not be a piece on how complicated love is. Partly because I would need to write a whole novel to explain that.

And secondly, because I want to talk about movies. 

Not just any old movies though! Movies that played a pivotal part in my childhood that my family and I refer to as “The Single Dad Days.” This was a revolutionary period of time where my dad, the great Sean Daly, had no idea what he was doing. He was fresh out of a seventeen year long relationship with my mother, navigating the fast-paced world of journalism one witty article and lively TV appearance at a time, and suddenly had to occupy the attention span of two little girls. My dad is a pop culture pheen, and passed his addiction down to my sister and I. This is why he would show us movies that didn’t always have themes fit for two adolescents to experience… 

However, my sister and I have been blessed with a colorful vocabulary and street smarts like you’ve never seen because of them. But enough of my jibber jabber! Here are the ten movies whose discs are scuffed and scratched from having been left on a continuous loop during those vulnerable years… 

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954)

This Disney produced cheese ball takes place on a submarine, like the title says, 20,000 leagues under the sea. A marine biologist, a butler, and a briny sailor (it sounds like the start of a bad joke Right?) are thrown overboard when a colossal squid attacks their vessel. They are rescued by the elusive and oh so mysterious Captain Nemo in his daunting submarine that used to scare the daylights out of me when I was little. There is a core childhood memory that has this movie as its epicenter. My dad had just moved out into his own place; a little apartment in Downtown St.Petersburg that we still call home to this day. Being the total daddy’s girl that I am wanted more than anything to see this funky new place I would be spending time in. He warned me that furniture was sparse, food was Mac & Cheese only, and our source of entertainment would be the tiniest DVD player you have ever seen in your life. Reluctantly, I was on board! That night, I sat in a lawn chair with my dad squatting next to me, eating Kraft Mac & Cheese as promised, with this movie playing on that ancient relic of a DVD player. Then we shared a sheet on his IKEA mattress and drifted off to sleep… I woke up the next morning anxious, vomiting, and crying but we’ll just ignore that part!

Jaws (1975)

Really, Dad? Again with the giant, murderous, sea creature movies? No wonder I have a crippling case of Thalassaphobia. For those that were unaware, that is the fear of large bodies of water and the terrifying monsters that could be lurking underneath. Anyways, the Party City fake blood and the creaky, animatronic shark were a staple in my childhood. I am almost positive I would drift off to sleep with the DUN-DUN-DUN sound playing in the background. Who needs to count sheep when you can imagine swimming around with a 25-foot great white?!

Mr. Mom (1983)

Do you think my dad was projecting with this one? During the 1980’s recession, Michael Keaton’s character “Jack” switches places with his wife, taking on the role of homemaker for his family. I think my dad might be recreating that movie, because certain instances that occur in Jack’s life, also seem to happen in Sean Daly’s. The confusion of how the car line works when dropping my sister and I at school is quite a sight to behold. Yes, I still do not have my drivers license, but that’s a story for another time… 

Parenthood (1989)

This sounds like an odd choice for two little girls right? Well that’s because it is! This piece of 80’s cinematic gold incorporates storylines of marital woes, gambling addiction, infidelity, and the rollercoaster of naturally, parenthood. But, even two youngins like my sister and I could understand the magic of Steve Martin. 

Uncle Buck (1989)

The late, great John Candy plays the clueless, loveable uncle charged with watching his nieces and nephews while their parents are away on a trip! I think of John Candy sort of as my clueless, but loveable uncle too. I grew up on his movies like The Great Outdoors (1988) and Cool Runnings (1993). This one however has a scene that I remember vividly. His nephew, who is in elementary school, sits down at the lunch table to do the infamous and sometimes competitive “trade”. He unpacks his lunch and realizes that Uncle Buck has packed him a cucumber, sardines, a piece of bread, and milk in a mayonnaise jar. All of the other kids scoot back their chairs screaming, repulsed in horror! My dad never packed us bad food, it was always just… interesting. Pieces of prosciutto in a plastic bag or something he would call “peanut butter & jelly bombs” which were quite literally just globs of peanut butter and jelly in a tupperware container with Ritz crackers for dipping.

The Parent Trap (1998)

This cult-classic starring the infamous child star Lindsay Lohan was a staple in the Daly family household. Dennis Quaid strangely enough always reminded me of my dad, (you’re welcome for that one by the way father)! As a young girl filled to the brim with toddler anxiety, it was nice being able to seek comfort in a movie that was relatable. I never had a secret twin that I met at an all girls summer camp, however, I do have parents that aren’t together anymore and a sister I love more than anything. I will also die on the hill that the film has one of the best movie soundtracks in cinematic history. Main character energy song “There She Goes” by the La’s, a cover of “Here Comes The Sun” from underground rapper Bronx Style Bob, and the swingin’ 60’s hit L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole. I am now a 17 year old, going on 18 woman who still loves the ridiculous hijinx that were stirred up by a ginger haired set of identical twins! 

Air Buddies (2006) (or honestly all of The Buddies movies in general)

This movie came out three years after I graced this Earth. For those that don’t know (genuinely how could you not, these movies are gold…en retriever! Alright moving on…) The Buddies franchise is a continuation of the Air Bud movies which are about a golden retriever that has great athletic prowess. Meaning he is an all star basketball, soccer, football, and volleyball player! A canine canon, if you will. Eventually, Air Bud falls in love and BAM! The Buddies are born! Each with their own fully fleshed personality, B-Dawg, Buddha, MudBud, Budderball, and the only sister Rosebud embark on the craziest of adventures. Getting lost in a winery, floating around in space, dog-sledding in Alaska, and taking down evil warlocks on Halloween. Golden retrievers for the win! 

Megamind (2010)

Simply put, this movie is legendary. A loveable super villain who has a giant blue head, wears leather pants, and has the voice of Will Ferrell is obviously going to be a winner. I used to watch this movie AT LEAST once a week. If I didn’t, it would be like mercury was in retrograde and life would be all out of whack. 

Footloose (2011)

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. The Footloose remake has cemented its role as one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies of all time. Don’t get me wrong, the 1984 original has a special place in my heart as well. But there is something so unexplainably addictive about the remake! It might have something to do with Kenny Wormald’s version of Wren McCormack… I’ll admit it! His swagger filled dancing and bad boy charm captivated my 4 year old heart. I was willing to get into a back alley fight with Julianne Hough if she was what stood in the way of our love. Julianne Hough plays Ariel Moore and her father, the reverend, is played by Dennis Quaid! I think I just realized that Dennis Quaid might have helped raise me as well…

Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)

Shoutout to my dear friend Madison Tomko who would also watch this movie religiously as a kid! Watching two gnomes fall in love to a soundtrack written by Elton John sounds like something out of a fever dream. I think I should just leave it at that to be honest.

I look at this as the ultimate sarcastic love letter to my dad, childhood, and how I was raised. These 10 films though they vary in genre, popularity, and scores on Rotten Tomatoes are a part of me. Movies are a beautiful and entertaining art form that can be associated with different people, memories, and periods of your life. Whether you watched them at times when everything was a mess and you felt like the world was crumbling around you, it was something you turned on for background noise while half-paying attention to your homework, a movie you saw in the theatre on an awkward first date or, like me, something a parent showed to keep their wily child entertained so they could be blessed with two hours to clear their mind and plan their next move.