Friends, I’m sure you have your own favorite movie dad. It might be Darth Vader or Steve Martin in Cheaper by the Dozen 2, or maybe even Homer Simpson because never forget there was a Simpsons movie. In the immortal words of Buster Bluth, those guys did a pretty good job, but dollars for donuts Cameron Poe from Con Air is the best cinematic dad of all time. I’ll explain.
See, Cameron Poe, as I’m sure you know, was unfairly imprisoned because his fists were classified as deadly weapons and he used them with unintentional fatal force when a bunch of drunk guys cornered him in a parking lot, in the rain, because they were harassing his wife (who was merely existing at her job) earlier in the evening. Going to prison for 7 years would turn anyone bitter—and yet? Cameron Poe kept his attention focused on his daughter, Casey Poe. (Oh, did I fail to mention his wife was pregnant at the time of the murder?! That’s called elevated drama, friends. I learned that from my friend who dated a guy who went to film school for a semester.)
Not only did he focus his attention on Casey while incarcerated, he made sure to communicate with her as much as possible, a fact we find out because we heard them reading letters to each other in a voiceover during a prison montage. I’m not sure what that’s called, because my friend eventually dumped the guy in film school, so let’s just call that movie magic.
Then, just as Cameron Poe thinks he’s about to finally be free and meet his daughter for the first time (he refused to let Casey come visit him in prison because he didn’t want her first memories of him to be behind bars) by a fortuitous turn of events, he was due to be released on her birthday (July 14th. Remember that date if you ever find yourself participating in a Con Air trivia night.)
So, do you think he thinks his presence is enough on her birthday? Friends, did I not tell you he was the best movie dad of all time? Of course, he’s not going to show up empty-handed, so he spends what I imagine to be the remaining amount in his cantina credit account to buy her the only appropriate gift in the prison inmate store: a pink bunny.
Friends, even when his mind should be on his own personal freedom, after seven years of incarceration, Cameron is still thinking of his daughter.
…and it’s because of his daughter that he stays on the plane after it is overrun with convicts who want nothing more than “sandy beaches, umbrella drinks… and dirty, naked freaks.” Because guess what? Part of that plan entails murdering transport guards, among other things—and Cameron Poe knew he, or his daughter, wouldn’t respect him if he let that happen. In case you didn’t pick up on this, Casey Poe is heavily implied to have a strict moral compass at seven years old. We never got to hear her ideas on foreign policy, but I’d imagine she had a hardline approach. Don’t ask me why; it’s just a hunch on my part.
Cameron Poe is no fool—as he tells agent Vince Larkin that there’s only two men he trusts in this world, one of them is him, the other’s not Vince. It makes me believe that perhaps the other man Cameron trusts in this world is in fact his daughter, who maybe he believes to be the reincarnated soul of a fallen army friend. That may be why he’s such an attentive father in the movie. Nothing in Con Air would support this, it’s just a pet theory of mine, and something I explore in my unofficial Con Air sequel that most definitely takes place in space and has space ghosts.
Finally, when Cameron is united with Casey at the end of the movie, when she refuses to hug him, or take his gift because presumably he smells like rotten garbage after being on a plane with convicts for hours, in the desert, and then crashing in the Las Vegas strip and then going on a motorcycle chase to stop the head bad guy from going after Casey (I mean…would your dad do this? Cameron Poe would, if he was your father….)
Cameron doesn’t force her to take the bunny. He knows that perhaps a soiled bunny he just rescued from going down the storm drain may not be the ideal present for a child who just spent the bulk of her birthday waiting for her dad to get off said plane full of convicts instead of having a party or hanging out with her friends eating cake and ice cream. He respects boundaries as much as he hates convicts taking over a plane. Both hallmarks of a good dad.
So for all those reasons, Cameron Poe is clearly the best cinematic dad of all time.
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