So many movies about fatherhood focus on the clichés of the masculine role. Even undeniably great movies like Friday Night Lights and Field of Dreams involve sports and traditional masculinity of some kind. But there are some dad-centric movies that go against the norm, such as 2001's Tortilla Soup, available on Hulu. It's a perfect Father's Day movie to stream, so this holiday, take the time to rewatch the film alongside your own father figure.
Tortilla Soup follows the lives of a retired Mexican-American chef named Martin Naranjo (Héctor Elizondo) and his three daughters, Leticia (Elizabeth Peña), Carmen (Jacqueline Obradors), and Maribel (Tamara Mello). Martin is a former chef who lost his senses smell and taste after his wife passed away, and not only did he lose those essential traits for his work, but he also lost his zest for life. The greatest joy that Martin experiences, however, is his frequent multi-course meals with his daughters. That's what makes Tortilla Soup so beautiful — it focuses on the ways that Martin loves to share his creations with his family, even if they don't always taste that great.
The fact that the movie centers around the women in Martin's life makes it stand out from the pack, but another reason Tortilla Soup is a great Father's Day film is due to how it portrays Martin's love for cooking for his family. Domestic cooking so often is viewed as a mother's job, and while yes, culture has changed and families in the U.S. now display more egalitarian distinctions for men and women's domestic roles, there's still something special about a movie that features a father making meals for his kids. It's impossible not to love.
Being a single parent is notoriously difficult, and in the film, Martin attempts to keep his grown daughters close by hosting elaborate dinners mentioned. Leticia, Carmen, and Maribel, however, don't necessarily enjoy their formal get-togethers; all three girls live at home, but they lead complete different lives. The oldest, Leticia, observes her religion strictly as a born-again Christian. Carmen, meanwhile, wants to run her own restaurant but finds herself in a stressful job and a bad relationship instead. The youngest daughter, Maribel, is a total rebel who ends up finding a boyfriend who she wants to move in with, much to Martin's dismay.
It's not until Martin himself finds himself a love interest, a woman named Yolanda (Constance Marie), that everything begins changing for the family. All throughout, the movie highlights Martin's beautiful relationships with his daughters, but it also gives plenty of depth to each of the Naranjo women's individual storylines. Even when they're in relationships, their lives don't revolve entirely around men, and they each discover new aspects of themselves during the film. It's almost as if the men in Tortilla Soup are used solely as catalyses for the female characters' development — a reversal of the gender norm on-screen. The fact that the film is directed by a woman, María Ripoll, likely has something to do with that.
With all that going for it, Tortilla Soup isn't the traditional Father's Day movie, but that just makes it an even better choice. In his 2001 review for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert called the film, "a warm human comedy that has no great deep message but simply makes us feel good." What's not to love about that? So if you're looking for a movie to watch with your dad or father figure this Father's Day, choose Tortilla Soup. It's a sweet, uplifting comedy with a side of mushy feelings — plus lots of fatherly love, of course.