Disclaimer: I am not a dad. If you’d like to hear from one today, I recommend reading Roush’s post or rewatching Lynn Bowden’s highlights vs. Louisville. However, I have a great amount of respect for dads and all that they contribute to society.
That’s why, this Father’s Day, I’ve decided to answer an important question. Namely, which sports movie dads would be the best to get a beer with? To tackle this difficult issue, I came up with some general rules. Using the following basis, I evaluated the central dad figures from several of my favorite sports movies.
Rule No. 1: The Good Dad Rule. Three parenting strikes and you’re out.
Rule No. 2: The Conversational Rule. The most sacred principle of the beer game, and of being a dad: being able to carry on an entertaining and enthusiastic conversation about obscure topics.
Rule No. 3: BYOB. What am I, made of money?
So crack open a cold one, get your best dad jokes ready, and let’s get into it.
Dad #1: Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams (1989)
Strengths: Spontaneity, Belief – Weaknesses: Extreme Corniness – Dad Strikes: 1
“Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.” I mean come on! In this classic story about baseball, fatherhood and ghosts, Costner’s Ray Consella belongs on this list for that legendary dad joke alone. Of course, some may argue that abandoning his wife and daughter to face foreclosure while he went on a cross-country road trip with James Earl Jones wasn’t the best dad move (that’s his only strike). But I’m willing to overlook that because the whole thing was done in effort to reconnect with his own father, and he managed to teach his child about the magic of baseball in the process. That’s wholesome stuff.
WOULD HE BE FUN TO GET A BEER WITH? Yes. I’m a little worried the conversation would devolve into a starry-eyed historical soliloquy, but then again, I’d listen to that man talk about paint drying. Plus he’s definitely buying, so Kevin Costner passes the beer test.
Dad #2: Dennis Hopper, Hoosiers (1986)
Strengths: Basketball Knowledge – Weaknesses: Alcoholism – Dad Strikes: 2
You may remember Hoosiers for Gene Hackman’s compelling performance as Coach Norman Dale. Or you may remember it for the iconic shot-making confidence of Jimmy Chitwood. Personally, I think of Shooter Flatch—and if Dennis Hopper’s Oscar nomination is any indication, so does Hollywood. On the dad scale, Shooter (father of Everett Flatch, another player on the team) has his ups and downs. First he’s a washed-up local drunk (strike one), then becomes a valuable assistant coach, only to publicly relapse (strike two) during the first tournament game. However, he ultimately gets the help he needs, and makes his son proud.
WOULD HE BE FUN TO GET A BEER WITH? Yeah, but you really shouldn’t try it. It won’t end well. On the conversation front, I have no doubt that Shooter would keep you entertained, and match you brew-for-brew all the while; but he’s sober now, and it’s probably for the best. Call it a toss-up.
Dad #3: Denzel Washington, He Got Game (1998)
Strengths: Dedication, Trash Talk – Weaknesses: Healthy Communication – Dad Strikes: 3+
Starring alongside NBA superstar Ray Allen (a.k.a. Jesus Shuttlesworth), Denzel put up one of the best performances of his career the father in He Got Game. However, he has a few factors working against him here. One is that he was never really a good dad, pushing his son way too hard as a kid and even physically abusing him on the court (strike one). The second is the reason he was in prison at the beginning of the movie: he killed his wife (strikes two, three, four and five). Jesus never really forgave him for that, and neither should we.
WOULD HE BE FUN TO GET A BEER WITH? Probably not. I give him credit for gaining a little self-awareness toward the end, but he’s still a jerk. Denzel Washington, unfortunately, does not pass the beer test.
Dad #4: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, The Game Plan (2007)
Strengths: Charisma, Dance Moves – Weaknesses: Selfishness – Dad Strikes: 2.5
I re-watched The Game Plan recently, fully expecting it to be terrible (even though it’s one of my girlfriend’s favorite movies). I was wrong. It’s outrageously entertaining, and The Rock’s performance as football star Joe Kingman is actually underrated.
Consider his character arc: after the unexpected arrival of his daughter Peyton (Madison Pettis), he goes from a self-centered jock to a semi-responsible dad, and even learns how to pass the football to his teammates along the way! He goofs a few times, including accidentally leaving Peyton at a restaurant (strike one), accidentally leaving her at a ballet practice (strike two) and accidentally sending her into anaphylactic shock (not really his fault), but hey, we all make mistakes, right?
WOULD HE BE FUN TO GET A BEER WITH? Hard no. As much as I’d love to hang with the Rock, this version is kind of a self-righteous windbag. Plus he has, like, a ridiculously healthy diet, which means he probably could out-drink you in a second but chooses to chug kale smoothies instead. The Rock does not pass the beer test.
Dad #5: Brad Pitt, Moneyball (2011)
Strengths: Confidence – Weaknesses: People Skills – Dad Strikes: 0
With respect to the classics, Moneyball is my all-time favorite sports movie. It’s got a compellingly nostalgic storyline; it’s got plenty of laughs; it’s got one of the most exciting montage scenes in the well-worn history of the genre; it’s got Brad Pitt at his most endearing, portraying Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane. There’s a terrific side-plot involving Billy and his daughter, Casey (Kerris Dorsey), who supports him (and sings cute songs) throughout it all. 100% wholesome content, no strikes here.
WOULD HE BE FUN TO GET A BEER WITH? Absolutely, especially if he brings along Brent Jennings’ character, Ron Washington. Beers with Pitt means shooting the sh*t in the best possible way: baseball talk, a few knee-slappers and a healthy dose of wisdom mixed in. Sign me up. Brad Pitt passes the beer test.
If you could share a beer with a fictional dad of your choice, who would it be?