Father’s Day: My Favorite Movie Dads
Father’s Day is this Sunday, so I thought it would be appropriate to talk about some fathers in movie history that stand out above the rest. I’m not a father, but as a son I can tell you that a man’s relationship with his father is one of the most important relationships in his life. It might be that reason alone that the bond between father and son is put on the big screen so often, it’s relatable and universal.
So grab a cold one with your dad this weekend, maybe even pull out one of these movies and make a memorable moment you will never forget. Use the comments below to talk about your favorite movie dads, enjoy!
Don Vito Corleone – The Godfather (1972)
“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
The Godfather series says a lot about family and tradition by showing father and son relationships. A son trying to live up to his father’s expectations and legacy is a part of life, when your father is a mob boss; it becomes a little more difficult. It’s one of the best movies of all time and a real guys movie. Vito Corleone loves his family more than anything else, and everything he does is for them. “What is the interest for my family?” he asks Sollozzo, keeping his heart and business in his family’s best interest. Fathers and sons will be bonding over The Godfather for generations to come.
Ted Kramer – Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Billy Kramer: “We need cereal.”
Ted Kramer: “Okay, what color?”
As a newly single dad, Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) isn’t quite ready to tackle all of life’s new responsibilities. I’m sure a lot of dads can relate to many of scenes in this movie. It’s touching and funny at times; it shows a realistic side to divorce and the strains on family. Here’s one father that overcame the odds.
Ed Bloom – Big Fish (2003)
“I’ve been nothin’ but myself since the day I was born, and if you can’t see that it’s your failin’, not mine.”
Big Fish is a fantastic movie that will put a smile on your face for days. It focuses on the strained relationship between a father and son–Ed and Will Bloom. Ed’s a big story teller, so much so that Will can’t stand him a lot of the time. He’s returned home to see his dying dad and is treated to some more stories. It all comes together in one of my favorite endings for a movie ever. If there’s a message here, for me it was that the bond between a father and son is tested many times during one’s life, it’s best to keep it strong in death too. It’s never too late.
Chris Gardner – The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
“I met my father for the first time when I was 28 years old. I made up my mind that when I had children, my children were going to know who their father was.”
The Pursuit of Happyness has a lot in common with Kramer vs. Kramer; newly single dad has to overcome responsibilities that include trying to work and raising a son. It’s an uplifting film that should have nailed Will Smith an Oscar in my opinion, he plays father Chris Gardner and his real-life son Jaden Smith plays along side with him. Gardner simply wants the best life for himself and his son, and goes to all sorts of lengths to get there. No money in his wallet, no clean clothes, and with no place to sleep – he still manages to keep his son safe and pass on morals that every child should be so lucky to inherit.
Darth Vader – Star Wars (1977 – 1983)
“Search your feelings Luke…you know them to be true.”
The worst father of all time? Maybe. It had to be done though, I didn’t say this list was all good guys did I? Anakin is flawed; he kills the mother of his children, holds his daughter prisoner and cuts off his son’s hand. Under the black armor, you will not find a #1 Dad shirt. He’s entertaining as hell though, and after all is said and done he does eventually see that he was wrong and sacrifices his own life to protect his children. Took him long enough though.
Furious Styles – Boyz n the Hood (1991)
“Any fool with a dick can make a baby, but only a real man can raise his children.”
Laurence Fishburne plays Furious Styles (yes, it’s the best name ever), a father trying to raise his rebellious son, Tre, in the hood (Los Angeles). What’s great about Furious and his parenting style is that he’s tough. He sets an example and can’t expect any less, because if he does, where they come from it’s the difference between life and death. The influence his father has on him ultimately saves his life; he’s going to be a good man, just like his father.
Professor Henry Jones – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Professor Henry Jones: “Junior, I have tell you something.”
Indiana Jones: “Don’t get sentimental now dad.”
Professor Henry Jones: “The floor’s on fire… see… AND the chair.”
Henry Jones doesn’t have a lot of emotion to share with his son Indiana. He lacks in that department sure, but it’s evident that with Indiana Jones following in his father’s footsteps that they have a lot of intellectual similarities, and that’s good enough for them. There are a lot of great father-son scenes here with bickering and slapstick, but also some touching moments too. They protect each other even though they don’t get along, and they both seek professional respect for one another. A son’s relationship with his estranged father is a common theme in Steven Spielberg movies (E.T., Hook), it especially works here with the Jones family.
Guido Orefice – Life is Beautiful (1997)
“You are such a good boy. You sleep now. Dream sweet dreams. Maybe we are both dreaming. Maybe this is all a dream, and in the morning, Mommy will wake us up with milk and cookies. Then, after we eat, I will make love to her two or three times. If I can.”
Guido takes it upon himself to save his son Giosué’s life along with his innocence by convincing him that everything that is happening around them is a game. When Nazis beat Guido to near death, he convinces his son it’s is all part of the game. His son loves it, often with a smile on his face. It’s a heartbreaking movie that shows no matter the cost, here’s a father willing to protect his son.
Atticus Finch – To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
“If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Atticus Finch is arguably the greatest movie hero of all time. He’s a single father (a widow) that teaches his children about acceptance during an intolerant time in their adolescence. Atticus Finch is a fighter of injustice and inequality. Gregory Peck plays Finch with such grace showing how patient and kind the character is from the book, which should be required reading for everyone. It’s one thing to tell your kids the difference between right and wrong, but to show by example is not always easy.
He gave his kids Scout and Jem the freedom to make up their own minds and encouraged empathy. I can see why Atticus Finch is one of the best movie dads of all time, he reminds me of my own father. He taught me everything I need to know about acceptance of people from a very early age, and like Atticus did with his own children, my father gave me the freedom to make my own decisions and relish in my individuality.
Other Notable Movie Dads: Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks in Road To Perdition), Bob Jones (Michael Keaton in My Life), Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani in Bicycle Thieves), Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson in Taken), John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington in John Q)