“My Dad Doesn’t Understand Me”-That One Movie Cliche We Have All Seen Five And A Half Thousand Times

Let’s be honest here. Cliches make the world go round. Sometimes we can’t stand them, and sometimes we can’t get enough of them, but the surest truth is that we can’t get rid of them.

The thing about cliche ideas is that they are cliche for a reason.

They are really good ideas. Ultimately we like most of them, but we want them to be done well. If they are not done well, that is when we accuse them of being too cliche. Humans are fickle that way.

“My dad doesn’t understand me. He is stressed because there is a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, and he doesn’t take the time to listen to me. He wants me to grow up to be something that I am not. I want to do this other thing, but he doesn’t get it. He thinks I am weak, or crazy, or both, I guess. I can’t be what he wants me to be. I want to please him, but I don’t know how.”

Does anyone know what movie character I refer to with this fictitious monologue?

Probably not. This is a chorus of characters. They are all saying the same thing.

Here is my list:

Flint Lockwood, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy waco Meatballs

Father and Son don’t get each other: Flint is an inventor, but his dad does not even understand how to work a computer mouse. He wants Flint to work in his tackle bait store, but Flint does not comprehend fishing AT ALL. Especially fishing metaphors. Those stump him every time.

There is a terrible disagreement: Flint’s dad wants Flint to stop making food fall from the sky because it isn’t natural, but Flint angrily refuses, feeling hurt that his dad isn’t proud of his accomplishments.

And at last: Flint saves the day by stopping one of his inventions with another of his inventions and his father finally comes to appreciate his talents.

Johnny, Sing



Father and Son don’t get each other: Johnny’s dad is the ringleader of a gang, and he expects Johnny to take his place when he is gone. Johnny, though, doesn’t have any desire to be a part of the gang, and he only goes along with it because he knows his dad won’t understand if tells him about his true passion, which is singing.

There is a terrible disagreement: Johnny’s dad gets put in jail because Johnny wasn’t doing his job. His dad finds out about Johnny’s singing, and disowns him for his lack of loyalty.

And at last: Johnny sings on TV and his dad is finally able to appreciate his talents.

Hiccup, How to Train Your Dragon


Father and Son don’t get each other: Hiccup is the son of Stoick, the viking chief. His dad is a warrior, while Hiccup is shrimpy and brainy. Hiccup realizes that he can’t kill dragons and tries to tell his dad, but Stoick will not hear of it. (Did I mention that listening issues was a theme here?)

There is a terrible disagreement: Stoick finds out that Hiccup has been associating with dragons behind his back and feels betrayed. He promptly disowns him.

And at last: Hiccup nearly dies saving everyone and Stoick finally recognizes that dragons are friendly and learns to appreciate his son’s talents.

Remy, Ratatouille


Father and son don’t get each other:

Remy: Dad, I want good food!

Dad: Shut up and eat your garbage.

There is a terrible disagreement: Remy’s dad finds out that Remy has been associating with dragons…erm…I mean, humans- which are the enemy. He is disgusted and angry, telling Remy that he has betrayed his fellow rats.

And at last: Remy’s dad realizes that not all humans are bad and that his son is really serious about becoming a chef. He helps him out of a tough scrape, and learns to appreciate his son’s talents.

Lenny, Shark Tale

Shark tale

Father and son don’t get each other: Lenny’s dad is the leader of what is essentially the shark version of the Mafia. Lenny’s brother Frankie is a killer. Lenny is… well, Lenny is a vegetarian.

There is a terrible disagreement: Lenny takes responsibility for his brother’s death and runs away, feeling that his dad would much rather he had died instead. His dad finds out and is shocked to discover that Lenny has joined the humans dragons fish and dressed as  dolphin.

And at last: Oscar the not-really-a-shark-slayer talks some sense into Lenny’s dad, and the mafia shark admits that he misses Lenny and he finally learns to appreciate his younger son’s rather unique talents.

By now I hope that you are sensing a pattern. There is a formula. All of these movies are the same. Insert my monologue into any of their mouths and it works.

Here is my final example:

Faramir, The Lord of the Rings


Father and son don’t get each other: Denethor, the viking chief of Berk the steward of Gondor, values the honor and skills of a warrior. Faramir doesn’t like fighting and would much rather spend his time singing cooking inventing reading or taking quiet walks. Thus, Denethor deems Faramir essentially worthless. (Sheesh, man, why so harsh?) He infinitely prefers Faramir’s older brother Frankie- uh, Boromir.

There is a terrible disagreement: When Boromir dies Denethor admits that he wishes Faramir had died instead. He sends Faramir on a suicide mission. (Really, Denethor? REALLY?)

And at last: After Faramir nearly dies, Denethor recognizes his son’s bravery and learns to appreciate his talents– tries to burn him alive. Thankfully, Faramir has some decent friends who prevent this from happening.

Faramir is probably wondering what happened to the last bit of the formula. No hugs for him.

In Conclusion

Though it is overused and often terribly butchered, the “My father doesn’t understand me” cliche is one of my favorites. Of the six movies I mentioned, I really only love three, (Ratatouille, Shark Tale and LOTR) but there are definitely some other good ones out there, as well as many others that are as cringe-worthy as a lowercase letter at the beginning of a sentence. that drives me crazy.

What are your favorite story cliches? Do you notice certain formulas being repeated over and over again?  Are there any that you can’t stand? Do you have any to add to my list? I would love to hear from you!


13 thoughts on ““My Dad Doesn’t Understand Me”-That One Movie Cliche We Have All Seen Five And A Half Thousand Times

  1. Oddly enough, I didn’t even notice that this was such a cliché until you mentioned it. XD I’ve also noticed that in the “My Dad doesn’t understand me” cliché there’s quite a lot of dead/absent Mums.
    I believe my least favorite cliché would have to be the love triangle. They’re so completely overused and just annoy me to no end.
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true! Having dead/absent mums is certainly a common theme here as well. It is often one of the catalysts of the father/son tension, though not always.
      Argh, I agree! The love triangle is WAY overused and I am sick of it. WHY are love triangles everywhere??? I sympathize with you, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. SO many dead moms!!! For a while you could play this really fun and impossible to win game called name more than 2 Disney princess movies where the mom’s *NOT* dead.

      In some movies, it seems like they just didn’t want to write a second parent hahaha

      The “dad doesn’t understand me” or just in general “parents don’t understand me” cliche is used a lot, though

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha, very true. I totally agree.
        Though for the impossible game there’s Merida in Brave and Rapunzel in Tangled. Surprisingly they both have alive parents. 😉 At the moment I can’t think of anyone else, though. XD

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha yeah thankfully we have them now, but I meant before they came on the scene, we were woefully without Disney princesses who had mamas. It was sad!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never thought much about these cliches. Now that you have pointed out I realize it is everywhere.
    Now answering your question, my favorite cliche would be hot headed guy falling for the sassy mouthed girl. I never get tired of them at all.

    Gayathri @ Musings Over Nothing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yeah, I think it is fun to find these patterns in stories for some reason. Once you start noticing which cliches you like, it’s easier to find the books and movies you are likely to prefer. Not that it works all the time, but it’s funny how there are some things we get sick of easily, and other things that we can never get enough of. It’s different for everyone!
      Thanks for commenting!


  3. Yep, I’ve noticed this cliche too. And what annoys me is that the kid always turns out to be right. There’s never a need for the kid to understand the parent. A kid pursuing his dream is important, sure; but could he come to appreciate the guardian who’s worked and sacrificed to protect and provide for him for years? *blows off steam*
    But I agree: it really matters how the author handles this cliche. It can be handled well. One thing I appreciated about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is that the dad had a valid point about the food machine getting out of control.
    One cliche I’m tired of seeing is the “strong female character” who proves her strength by being sassy and/or a tough fighter. There are many other ways to show strength–humility and patience take strength, for example, and doing necessary but thankless jobs, and perseverance and cheerfulness. I could stand to see those traits glorified more!
    You did a great job examining this “Dad doesn’t understand me” cliche! I enjoyed reading your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you muchly! Yes, I agree that it would be nice to see the parents be right a little more often. It can get old to see the kids be totally justified repeatedly. I like how it is a balance in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. My favorite thing is when you can understand both sides, and both have valid opinions.
      I get tired of the sassy/tough cliche too! I wish that movies would portray a more diverse array of strengths, because there are so many different ways to be a strong person! You don’t have to be sassy or great at physical fighting. Strength comes in many different guises, and a female can be strong without falling into the sassy/tough category. So can everyone, actually. I get sick of sassy characters in general.
      Thanks again for commenting; your thoughts are appreciated!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s