Pop Poppa Of The Week: Sam Woods From The Wizard (1989)

Welcome to the inaugural and hopefully weekly presentation of the Pop Poppa Of The Week award. This will be given to men both real and fictional who display qualities in their fatherhood that I admire. Considering the idea just popped into my head and I watched The Wizard earlier this week, guess the source of my first pick. That’s right, Beau Bridges played Sam Woods in the movie about a pair of brothers, Jimmy and Corey (Fred Savage) and their new friend hustling their way across the western part of the country to get the boy genius Jimmy (who seems a bit autistic, though I don’t think that’s ever directly stated) to Vegas so he can play in a Nintendo video game championship. At the same time, Bridges and his older son, played by the always wonderful Christian Slater, are about a day behind them as they try to figure out where the kids are going.

At first, Bridges’ Woods doesn’t even resemble a good father. He’s perfectly fine with letting Jimmy be sent to a home by his mother (who he’s living with) and doesn’t seem capable of relating to any of his sons. But as he and Slater go on their journey he not only gets to help defend his son by giving the jerky kid hunter (like a bounty hunter for runaways) a hard time, but eventually realizes how distant he’s been and that he needs to start living with and for his family again. We find out towards the end of the movie–SPOILER–that Beau and his wife also had a daughter who passed away, which explains the rifts in the family. By the end of the movie, Beau not only realizes the appeal of the NES, but also that he needs to start mending the broken fences of his life.

Oh, plus, he lets his boy play in a video game tournament even though he ran away from home like five days prior. I think that’s the kid in me appreciating him more than the dad in me though. By the way, as I noted on Twitter, I feel bad for you if you didn’t have that moment as a kid where you came downstairs intending to play video games and saw your mom or dad bleary eyed in front of the system. When we got our NES my folks got pretty into Super Mario Bros. and the same thing happened a few years later when I got my Game Boy and Tetris was a big thing. Good times.


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