Rocky Balboa, Vito Corleone and, er, Jim’s dad out of American Pie. Truth be told, there’s a lot of fatherly wisdom to be gleaned from the silver screen. Here we unpack the best quotes on what it means to be a modern dad.
1. “I feel like I’m running a small nursery with someone I used to date”
This is Ethan Hawke’s character, Jesse, skewering with inch-perfect brutality what invariably happens when you’re dealing with the 24/7 shit-storm of life with small kids. The dynamics of your relationship are suddenly plunged into a giddy state of flux. The woman who was formerly your lover/confidant/partner-in-crime is now someone you predominantly discuss child-rearing logistics with. And that’s OK. At the moment, you’re both in survival mode while you’re exhausted shells of your former selves. The big question? When the day-to-day chaos eventually subsides will you regain your dream-team mojo. Fingers crossed, eh?
2. “There’s no such thing as ready. You just jump on a moving train and you try not to die.”
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING
Everyone is winging this fatherhood caper. Everyone. It’s just some hide it better than others. Seriously, you got this.
3. “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
As a rule we don’t tend to endorse the opinions of ruthless mafia kingpins. Nor do we buy into all that dick-swinging machismo about what makes a “real man”. But, let’s face it, Vito Corleone totally nails this one. Sure there are exceptional circumstances when you might not have the access you want. Ideally, though you want to hang out with your kids as much as possible. Building a Sicilian crime empire can always wait until after bathtime.
4. “We have no way of knowing what lies ahead for us in the future. All we can do is use the information at hand to make the best decision possible. It’s gonna be fine. Your whole life is gonna be fine.”
Right now, there’s an anxiety epidemic and, sadly, your kids are unlikely to escape unscathed. That’s why sometimes your role as a father will simply be to maintain calm and dispense gentle reassurance like Christopher Walken does here. Even when you’re actually scared shitless yourself.
5. BERNARD BERKMAN: Joan, let me ask you something. All that work I did at the end of our marriage, making dinners, cleaning up, being more attentive. It never was going to make a difference, was it? You were leaving no matter what…
JOAN BERKMAN: You never made a dinner.
BERNARD BERKMAN: I made burgers that time you had pneumonia.
THE SQUID AND THE WHALE
There’s a hidden lesson here: make burgers when she doesn’t have pneumonia, too.
6. “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
There are certain life-lessons every father wants to teach his child. Try to be kind, avoid facial tattoos (where possible), never support Collingwood etc. But one of the most vital qualities to instill is bouncebackability. You’re not always going to be there to help your kid dust themselves down after misfortune occurs. If you can breed a resilient child, you’ve done them a huge service, a message the Italian Stallion expresses here with all the force of a teeth-rattling left hook.
7. If you think about your favourite memories, the most important moments of your life … were you alone?
George Clooney uttered this line and it had such a profound effect on him that he promptly got hitched and had twins. And, let’s face it, if it’s good enough for Clooney…
8. Keep it real, homies!
This is Jim’s dad in American Pie showing that, just because you’re now a dad and a moderately respectable member of the community, never forget: you’re still super-bad.