15 Best Parenting Movies of All Time

July 27, 2018
11 min read

“Parents” is not just a word, it happens to be an emotion. And some movies have done a brilliant job in bringing out that emotion. Not only these movies reflect on our family life but also compels us to cherish the moments we have had with our parents in the journey of our lives. These movies are special treat to those who love their parents; they will make you realize the finer aspects of what being a parent means. Here is the list of top parenting movies ever. You can watch some of these best parenting movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

15. Home Alone (1990)

Each and every kid has at some point in their life, imagined about living alone. Alone in their homes. The freedom, the unlimited tv watching and all the junk food. ‘Home Alone’ fulfilled that fantasy and manifested the thrill of living alone. Then like a climax waiting for its antics, it also portrays the importance of parents in life and the dangers of the big bad world. ‘Home Alone’ not only indulges the kid in you, it also portrays a strong message and it does so simply and in such an engaging manner that the kids don’t feel being preached yet learn the value of their parents.

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14. Taken (2008)

‘Taken’ takes an action spin-off the father- daughter relationship. Other than the methodical approach of finding his daughter, it shows the fragile side of a fighter. A man can be a fighter, a navy seal or the most powerful man on earth but there is one thing that can break the most powerful people and that is their children. It seems very trivial to see this on-screen but when you actually think of it, it takes a very stable mind to think and chalk out a plan amidst the chaos. The chaos can be vapid but it is not the problem that haunt parents, it is the love that brim their hearts that create a ruckus. This movie parades exactly that.

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13. Finding Nemo (2003)

Don’t let the brilliance of Pixar studios fool you. This movie is not just an underwater adventure, it is so much more. The movie deals with the identity crisis of Nemo, a child who lost his mother even before he hatched and has been struggling since, while his father tries every way to keep his child safe. ‘Finding Nemo’ is the struggle of a father trying to raise a child all by himself and he doesn’t have any clue except the fact that he loves Nemo and would do anything for him. Nemo knows that but his thirst for adventures takes him on a spin where he realises the beauty of the world and the true value of his hapless father.

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12. War Of the Worlds (2005)

What is a movie showcasing the invasion of earth doing in this list? Well if you look closely, the movie isn’t about aliens nor it is about their invasion. It is about a father taking care of their children. It could have been a terrorist attack, an epidemic or fight to survive. The circumstances might change, sometimes it might be far more extraordinary. But the parental instincts never change. “Save thy child”. In the movie, Tom Cruise plays a father who goes out of his limits and by his sheer love fights the wicked ways of the aliens with only one motive to save his children. The movie might not make you nostalgic but it does make you realise, that in any situation, conventional or contingent, the first thing on a parent’s mind is the safety of their child.

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11. Sunshine Cleaning (2008)

Parents go out of their ways to provide better for their children. Amy Adams plays a mother who has a child who needs a better shot at education for he is troubled and also has been erratic. She tries her hands at everything but then she finds an illegal job of clearing crime scenes and she goes all up for it. The movie is full of dry humor. But that is not the beauty of the movie. The gorgeousness lies in the coming of age relationship between the mother and son, their understanding and their sacrifices for each other. It is one of those movies that seem worn out in the beginning but soon you start enjoying every second of the movie.

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10. August: Osage County (2013)

The movie makes a case for all the dysfunctional families out there. A funeral brings them back to their family home and all the issues that had been rugged, appear. But amidst the drifting, the love is still evident. This movie might not be reflective for the audience but it has some very forbearing scenes. Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts chemistry reflects all the estranged mother daughter relationships and the hint of undying love that lives beneath. The movie doesn’t entertain the concept of a happy ending but it makes for a perspective that not all stable homes are happy and not all the wild ones damaged. And all that matters is the an eye for the family and the love that makes parents.

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9. Interstellar (2014)

‘Interstellar’ is dense with ideas like blackholes, warmholes, theory of relativity, 5th dimension and warping of space and time, but it is not as interested in an accurate portrayal of these ideas — which anyway is virtually impossible — as it is in using them as tools to carry forward an emotional story of father trying to re-unite with his daughter in the face of insurmountable odds. Yes, ‘Interstellar’ is as much a father-daughter story as it is a science fiction. Obviously, Nolan who himself is a doting dad to three kids seems to have drawn inspiration from his own parenthood so as to pay tribute to the relationship he shares with his children.

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8. The Descendants (2011)

The life of Matt (George Clooney) goes haywire when his wife after a surfing accident goes into coma. The doctors say that she might never recover from it. Resultantly, his life disrupts. He now has to handle his two teenage daughters and he has no idea how. Matt then discovers that his wife had been cheating on him and the situation goes fervent. He simply cannot fathom the mere idea of raising his two girls all by himself. Not only that he’s been coerced by his brothers and sisters to sell of his piece of land to rake in millions and that becomes a situation in itself. The movie deals with complex situations but essentially is a Father and his two daughters to make sense of the situation and each other. It is the greed and the uncertainty of life that makes them understand the bond they share.

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7. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

No matter how ugly or how untalented a child is, a mother’s faith in her child is unwavering and resolute. That is the beauty of a mother’s faith in her child. This movie spins the same emotion in a whole-hearted and sometimes wry humour. The movie follows the life of a family living in New Mexico that is close yet anything but normal. Olive learns that she has been qualified for a beauty pageant, going to be held in California that her parents had trained her for. Hence, the entire family goes onto a road trip to take Olive for her pageant. The road trip is disastrous for the family but a piece of joy ride for the audience. The family realise their hard knocks and get even closer. The trip is filled with showdowns and breakdowns but essentially it gets them to bond.

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6. Juno (2007)

A teen after getting pregnant has to decide whether she wants to give birth to her child or not. She may be uncertain whether or not to keep the baby but she is certain about her becoming a mother. The movie reels in humour and makes whimsy out of some serious situations but underlying all the laughs and run. It pans through the struggle of a single pregnant girl whose trying to get through life, one day at a time. The movie depicts the relationship a girl shares with her parents and makes a case for the audience so as to what if something similar happens to them. For in the tumults of the world, it is only one’s parents that can understand and be there at every juncture.

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5. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

The movie known for the breakout performance of Leonardo DiCaprio, is essentially an intricate family drama. In most of our families, our elder brother or sister takes care of the younger ones. They become the pseudo father figure. This movie takes this emotion several notches higher. Not only the elder brother takes care of his handicapped younger brother  but also takes care of the entire family. He reflects on life, when an elder brother or sister has to become wiser than their age and guide their family’s way. He does exactly that. The relationship between the brothers does get tangled but love brings them together again.

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4. Room (2015)

To an extent the initial portions of ‘Room’ are harrowing to watch, but what follows after is an overwhelming tale of escape, surprise, discovery, mourning, and reawakening. The moments of struggle and pain are followed by moments of joy and liberation, which are then followed by moments of truth and revelation. There are very few films that are as cathartic to experience as ‘Room’ is. In all likelihood, you will spend a major portion of the movie wiping your tears. And those tears that you shed, will not be out of grief or pain; you will just find yourself overwhelmed with emotions — mostly, joy. The joy of watching a mother reunite with her son. The joy of watching a five-year-old discover the beauties of this world. And the joy of watching a mother realize the love that kept her alive: the love for her son.

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3. Somewhere (2010)

While Sofia Coppola is better known for ‘Lost in Translation’, one mustn’t forget that she also directed an equally beautiful film called ‘Somewhere’. The story of father-daughter bonding is quite apparently auto-biographical to Sofia’s own childhood when she used to accompany her father, the legendary Francis Ford Coppola, to different hotels and film sets. ‘Somewhere’ is one of the films that doesn’t astonish you instantly, but slowly grows on you as you start thinking about it. Basically, it stays with you, especially after a 2nd viewing. It touches the themes of solitude and loneliness — similar to ‘Lost in Translation’ in that aspect — but it will move you more because of the father-daughter chemistry, which is central to the film. To put it in short: the best father-daughter bonding movie ever made. PS: Such films hardly ever get made in the first place.

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2. Boyhood (2014)

The movie that literally captures the childhood and adolescence of Ellar Coltrane is a sheer masterpiece. It takes you on the journey of Mason Jr (Ellar Coltrane) and his relationship with his mother and the ever-changing families. His childhood is not smooth by any means but he learns through all the terrains of his upbringing. His mother goes through a series of failed marriages. But that doesn’t fail their relation and they are together irrespective of the situation meddling with their lives. Ellar has a voice and an ever-growing perspective and is constantly guided by his biological father who has a family of his own. The movie makes us realise the value of life and the people in it in the most humbling manner.

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1. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

It is a movie that is synonymous to the feeling of being a Parent. ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ is not just about the struggles of a man trying to achieve his dreams but it is also about a man teaching his son to do the same. He doesn’t need any examples because he becomes one. The film is a reminder of the sacrifices that parents have to go through to raise children. It is symbolic of love and tenderness, and takes you through lanes that anyone can imagine themselves in. The movie resonates the resistance, the imperviousness humans are capable of. Will Smith speaks through his eyes and makes every scene seem right from the alleys of lives. His pain needs to be felt, for he symbolises the entire being of Parents.

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