A new taxonomy of the cinema genre “Dad Thriller”

A recent edition of Max Read’s newsletter featured what he called “notes towards a daddy-thriller theory” – an aesthetic discussion of a unique cinematic subgenre that, while common, has not. been sufficiently defined by critics. Enter: the thriller daddy. You know the kind of shit dads love:

The Dad Thriller was a genre of film made by Hollywood studios in the 1990s1, marketed primarily to men and presented sincerely if not always accurately as smart and sophisticated entertainment. The thriller daddy builds on legal dramas, spy movies, 1970s conspiratorial thrillers, and 80s action blockbusters. (See figure 1.) Ambiance is “an action movie that you might be able to convince your wife to see because it’s sort of dealing with politics, science, and / or legal issues.”

While the genre is vast and its boundaries porous, Dad Thrillers does share some thematic and narrative concerns. These are usually stories of men, often with families, professional degrees and successful careers, who find themselves struggling unexpectedly. bureaucracy, conspiracy, irrational violence, impending natural disaster, or a combination of the above as they face an existential threat to their, their family, their country or the security of their planet.

The Dad Thriller is adjacent to, but distinct from, the blockbuster action, sci-fi, or disaster movie, not least due to the veneer of political or moral sophistication attached to Daddy Thriller. (Granted, this can be a subtle distinction. As an example: while Deep impact is a thriller daddy, Armageddon this is probably not the case.) While there are many independent and foreign films that share themes and concerns with Dad Thriller, the Dad Thriller is specifically a product of Hollywood studios and the cultural machine that runs it. accompanied.

There’s also something here, about the commodification of a certain type of American masculinity, that explains why the Dad Thriller genre has so far avoided such a trope-y categorization. These are the kinds of movies that particularly appeal to the Boomer Men, who have largely lived in a culture that sees them as “default” or “norm.” So while Dad Thrillers can be as stereotypical as a lifetime movie, they’ve been treated with a certain reverence that makes it culturally taboo to dismiss them for their obvious commercial qualities.

Read impressively goes in-depth with his taxonomic analysis of the film of the genre Dad Thriller. It even does graphics:

If this seems to be in your back alley, the whole post is worth reading:

90s Daddy Thrillers: A List [Max Read / Read Max]

Image via YouTube

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