Dad Wanted

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Dad Wanted Movie Poster Image
Stranger helps young girl enter bike race; cursing, drinking
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 102 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Sometimes grief can make you angry, but it's important to share and let go of difficult feelings in order to heal.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Blanca is a bright and angry 10-year-old who lost her father when he was hit by a bike after a fight with her mother. She and her friend show determination, resourcefulness. Alberto battles demons after his daughter's death, tries to heal. A young girl recruits an adult stranger to pose as her dad so she can enter a parental permission-only race that her mother has forbidden.

Violence

Off-screen, a man dies in a biking accident and a young girl dies in a car accident. A girl punches a boy and bloodies his nose. A bully forces a girl out of her bus seat, and a friend stands up to the bully. A girl kicks trash cans when she's angry.

Sex
Language

Although the language otherwise remains at the level of "damn," "hell," and "ass," an adult yells "f--king" in the presence of kids, then realizes the mistake and withdraws, replacing it with "fudging."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man drinks too much over grief at losing his young daughter.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dad Wanted is a Mexican film (in Spanish with English subtitles) about two grief-stricken strangers -- a 10-year-old girl and a 45-year-old man -- who meet and heal each other. Although the movie's heart is in the right place, parents may view this with discomfort as it focuses on a young girl recruiting an adult stranger to pose as her dad so that she can enter a parental permission-only race that her mother has forbidden. Given that the stranger is a father himself, his willingness to conduct a secret (platonic) relationship with a 10-year-old to thwart her mother's wishes seems vaguely creepy and unsettling, even if the daughter, the mother, and stranger all benefit in the end. There's some bullying, and language includes "f--k," which may make this inappropriate for the age group that would be most interested in watching a 10-year-old main character. "Ass," "hell," and "damn" are also used. A man drinks too much over grief at losing his young daughter.

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What's the story?

In DAD WANTED, 10-year-old Blanca (Natalia Coronado) is a spoiled, rebellious kid who loves BMX cycling. But her mother, Fernanda (Silvia Navarro), has forbidden even getting on her beloved bike since Blanca's father was killed in a biking accident. Her mother's inability to help Blanca through the grief has resulted in a chilly relationship. Blanca barely speaks to her mom, who is a busy movie producer and rarely home anyway. Mari (Aleyda Gallardo), the housekeeper, does most of the parenting and puts up with Blanca's rudeness. When Blanca learns of a major BMX race, she and her friend Laura plot to find a pretend "dad" to perform the required in-person sign-up for the race that her mother would veto. They set up elaborate anonymous auditions using Mom's casting connections and select Alberto (Juan Pablo Medina), a down-on-his-luck cab driver who used to be a popular actor. He's in mourning, too, and quit acting after his daughter was killed in an accident. Reluctant at first, Alberto is charmed by the dogged Blanca. Her presence helps heal him as they raise money together for Blanca's new bike by performing magic on the street. When Fernanda finds out, a reckoning follows that changes everyone involved.

Is it any good?

This movie is both sweet and maddeningly inappropriate at the same time. One questions the judgment of a writer and director who collaborated to create a story about a 10-year-old girl with a passion for BMX cycling, but included the word "f--k." You have to wonder who the filmmakers thought Dad Wanted is for when at its core it's about a stranger willing to pose as the 10-year-old's father both at her school and when he signs her up for a bicycle race that her mother has forbidden because it's too dangerous. On what planet would any responsible adult ever undermine the direct wishes of a strange kid's parent? 

Setting aside the implausible premise, the movie does deserve credit for grappling with the loss of a parent and the way that the remaining parent's grief may lead to bad decisions and overprotective parenting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether it was appropriate for Alberto to agree to help 10-year-old Blanca against her mother's wishes in Dad Wanted. At first, he turns her down, but then changes his mind. Why do you think he agreed to help her?

  • What qualities does Blanca exhibit that make her seem difficult? In what ways does she seem strong and decent?

  • Why do you think the mom has so much trouble communicating lovingly with Blanca? Do you believe that they have repaired their relationship by the end of the movie? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family tales

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