Fathers' Day (1997 film)

Fathers' Day is a 1997 American comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Nastassja Kinski. It is a remake of the 1983 French film Les Compères.

Fathers' Day
Fathers day poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIvan Reitman
Screenplay byLowell Ganz
Babaloo Mandel
Based onLes Compères
by Francis Veber
Produced byIvan Reitman
Joel Silver
CinematographyStephen H. Burum
Edited byWendy Greene Bricmont
Sheldon Kahn
Music byJames Newton Howard
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • May 9, 1997 (1997-05-09)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$85 million
Box office$35.7 million[1]

In the film, Collette Andrews (Kinski) enlists two former lovers, cynical lawyer Jack Lawrence (Crystal) and lonely, ex-hippie, suicidal writer Dale Putley (Williams) to help her search for her runaway teenage son Scott by telling each man that he is the father. When Jack and Dale run into each other and find out what is happening, they work together to find Scott and determine the identity of the actual father.

The film features an appearance by the musical group Sugar Ray. It was a major critical and commercial failure.


Scott Andrews, a 17-year-old, runs away from home with his girlfriend, Nikki. His mother Collette visits her ex-boyfriend, lawyer Jack Lawrence, and tells him that Scott is really his son and wants him to find the boy: Jack refuses at first, but Collette pries him into it. Meanwhile, writer Dale Putley is planning suicide when he gets a phone call from Collette, of whom he is another ex-boyfriend, and she tells him the same story. Realizing that his appointment with a client will keep him in town overnight, Jack decides that he will look for Scott. Both men start their search with Russ, Nikki's father. Dale and Jack get little help from Russ, but it does lead to them meeting each other. They mistakenly assume that they each have a different missing son, thinking that "both boys" are mixed up with Nikki. They decide to pursue their cases together.

Jack and Dale visit Nikki's mother, Shirley, and learn that Nikki went on the road to follow rock band Sugar Ray. When she asks the men for pictures of their sons, they finally realize that Collette has told them both the same story about being Scott's father. They call Collette, who confesses that she doesn't know which is the father, but begs them to find Scott then they'll settle the situation. The two agree and they head for Sacramento where they find Scott, drunk, lovestruck and dumped by Nikki. They bring Scott back to their hotel room, and when he wakes the next day, he is not pleased by the news that one of them might be his father and that Nikki is following Sugar Ray. Jack leaves Dale to watch over Scott, but Scott escapes by pouring coffee over Dale's testicles. Dale reaches Jack and they head to Reno, where Sugar Ray's next performance will be.

In Reno, Scott meets up with Nikki and the other devotees following the band. He meets up with two drug dealers that he scammed out of $5,000 that he used to buy a necklace for Nikki. He escapes, only to be accidentally run down by Jack and Dale. Now with a broken arm, Scott demands that his two fathers leave him alone. That night, the three finally start to bond when Scott opens up to Jack and Dale—Nikki is his first love, but his parents disapprove of her, so he ran away. When Scott tells his two fathers about the drug dealers, they decide to help him. They drive to Nikki's hotel, but when Jack and Dale go inside, the drug dealers spot Scott in the car and plan to kidnap and kill him. Scott escapes with Jack's rental car.

When the two fathers emerge from the hotel, Jack assumes that Scott had been lying to them the whole time, calls it quits and decides to go home. Just then, Jack's wife Carrie appears, following Jack (and Dale) because she's been confused and concerned given Jack's odd behavior. He tells her the truth about Scott, and that he could be the father. Dale departs while Jack and Carrie have an argument about Jack's negative feelings for Scott, making her scared of how he'll react with his own child. Jack sees her point, and heads to the Sugar Ray concert, finding that Dale is also there looking for Scott. They find him as he confronts Nikki, who breaks up with him. Heartbroken, Scott is suddenly grabbed by the drug dealers, whom Dale and Jack attack, resulting in a huge fight erupting within the concert crowd.

Freed from jail the next day, Jack, Dale, and Scott head home where Collette and his father Bob embrace with their son. Collette tells Scott the truth that neither Jack nor Dale is his father, but Scott is touched that his parents wanted him home so bad. Before the two men leave, Scott lies to both, separately and privately, that they're the father. Jack figures out that Scott lied, but is rather happy as it has given him a new outlook over having children. Dale, riding in Jack's car, spots a woman having car trouble on her way to the airport. Upon finding out that Virginia is single, Dale takes a shot and decides to take her to her destination by car, much to Jack's annoyance.


Mary McCormack portrays Virginia in an uncredited appearance, while Mel Gibson makes a brief uncredited cameo appearance. Catherine, Jason, and Caroline Reitman, children of director Ivan Reitman, all have small roles.


In South Africa, Fathers' Day was released as What's Up Pop's?, a title the distributor decided would be more appropriate for the local market. The name was subsequently changed to What's Up Pops? for DVD release, when the studio realized the apostrophe had been used incorrectly.


Fathers' Day received generally negative reviews from critics and was commercially unsuccessful as well. It holds a 25% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 59 reviews, with an average score of 4.18/10. The site's consensus reads: "A maudlin misfire, Fathers' Day manages the difficult task of making both Billy Crystal and Robin Williams woefully unfunny."[2] Julia Louis-Dreyfus was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress for her work in the film, where she lost to Alicia Silverstone for Batman & Robin.[3] The film was also nominated for Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy at the 1997 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards but barely lost to 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag.[4]


  1. ^ "Father's Day - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  2. ^ "Fathers' Day (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  3. ^ "Home of the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation". Razzies.com. Archived from the original on 2014-10-17. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
  4. ^ "The Stinkers 1997 Ballot". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Archived from the original on 18 August 2000.

External linksEdit