If you’re a movie fan, odds are you probably got started because somebody you know recommended that you watch a certain movie. I have no idea what my first movie was, but I know the most impactful one for me was the original Star Wars. George Lucas might as well be my modern-day Homer. Star Wars is his Illiad and I am his devoted super fan. But this isn’t a rant about Star Wars. This is the ultimate dad movie setlist.
My dad is a self-made movie connoisseur and the foundation that my movie taste is built on comes from his recommendations. I got to thinking, “How good are my dad’s recommendations?”. I combed through my Letterboxd diary and tagged every movie I could recall him telling me to watch. I’m calling this the ultimate dad movie set list, full of classics, modern marvels, and guilty pleasures.
I’m sure I’m missing some movies here and there, but I’ll keep adding them as time goes on. Let’s sort the 48 current entries by the average Letterboxd user score from highest to lowest. I’ll just run through the top 10.
Top 10 Ranked (by Letterboxd users)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
- The Dark Knight
- The Empire Strikes Back
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Thing
- The Silence of the Lambs
- Saving Private Ryan
- Star Wars: A New Hope
That’s not an abnormal top 10 list. It’s pretty respectable, with lots of heavy hitters. I think you’d find a majority of these movies on any number of ranked top 10 lists. So that’s a good sign. Dad’s hip with the times. Cool. Let’s take a look at his worst recommendations
Bottom 10 Ranked (by Letterboxd users)
- The Happening
- Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
- I, Robot
- The Village
- Independence Day
The list is pretty fair if you get technical about it. These are still popular movies, but they’re just not as popular as the top 10 above. But that leads to the topic of guilty pleasures. For me, a guilty pleasure is a movie that is so bad that you’re embarrassed to admit you like it in spite of its faults.
A vocal minority of Letterboxd users (including yours truly at times) are soooo pretentious especially when it comes to the Star Wars prequels. They’re not that bad. Is it truly a crime to have fun watching a movie and give it a score that includes fun as a component? I certainly don’t think so. So I’m not going to say Star Wars is a guilty pleasure. Get outta here with that nonsense.
But Legend is a cult classic and 100% a guilty pleasure. It’s so cheesy and rubbery sounding. But that same cheese wraps you up in a warm blanket full of mist filters and clunky Ridley Scott dialogue spewed out by a young Tom Cruise. It’s the type of movie that you’d only recommend to a select few people – the ones who get your style.
If you talk to somebody about movies enough, their guilty pleasure movies come up eventually.
If you ask me for recommendations, odds are I’m going to run through the popular stuff and then resort to the guilty pleasures once I figure you out a little bit. I think it’s awesome that my dad’s guilty pleasure movies are so dorky. Because I get his style and have asked for his recommendations for over 20 years, I consider them to be my guilty pleasure movies too.
When looking at the setlist as a whole, the quality of the list doesn’t really drop off until you hit the Revenge of the Sith / Escape from New York divide. Once you cross that divide, the quality takes a nose dive. Excluding Star Wars, it’s a fairly schlocky selection but I think that’s where the guilty pleasure effect comes in.
So that’s my ultimate dad movie setlist. It’s a pretty representative list for a dude born in the ’70s, grew up in the ’80s, and started adulthood in the ’90s. Those are three pivotal decades full of some of the best movies ever made. I defy anyone to disagree. The list represents the best of the best but isn’t afraid to show a little personality with some more off-the-beaten-path selections.