For Father’s Day, let’s celebrate some great movie dads. My list is a hodgepodge of various kinds of dads, including an ex-CIA agent, a model lawyer, a comical Italian, an adventurous professor, a homeless-man-turned-millionaire, a clown fish and a nanny in disguise. I am lining up 15 films which feature some of the greatest movie dads.
1 Atticus Finch (to Kill a Mockingbird)
The best movies always seem to come from the books we read, and if you know the story of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” then you know it features a great movie dad. Atticus, played by Gregory Peck, stands up for what he believes in and teaches his children about doing the same no matter what others think of you. In the film, he is a defense lawyer for a black man who was wrongfully charged with rape. However, in the South during the 1930s, there was great prejudice against anyone who wasn’t white. It’s a classic novel and movie that everyone should read or watch, because we can all learn a little something from Atticus, no matter the color of our skin.
2 Guido Orefice (Life is Beautiful)
Guido is a father who tried to shield his son from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. If you don’t mind shedding a tear or two for someone who is very comical and downright funny, watch this film. Italian Roberto Benigni, who directed the film and played the role of Guido in this 1997 film, did not win an Academy Award for Best Actor for nothing. The story combines tragedy and comedy in the most brilliant sense.
3 Daniel Hillard (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Daniel, played by Robin Williams, loves his kids, however he acts too much like a kid himself and his wife has had enough. He will do anything to keep them in his life after the divorce, so when his ex is looking for a nanny, Daniel comes up with the idea of becoming Mrs. Doubtfire! He may seem a little odd and a little crazy, but when a dad will go to great lengths to see his kids, you know he is a great one. If you haven’t seen “Mrs. Doubtfire,” be sure to rent it for a fun family movie night full of laughter.
4 John Q
Daniel in “Mrs. Doubtfire” may have dressed up like a nanny to see his children, but John in “John Q” goes to even greater lengths as a father to save the life of his little boy. When John, played by Denzel Washington, is told that his insurance company won’t cover his dying son’s need for a heart transplant, he does the unthinkable and holds the doctors and patients in the emergency room hostage. Washington always knows how to take a dramatic scene to the next level, and turns this just okay movie into a good one.
5 Chris Gardner (the Pursuit of Happyness)
When my sister told me in 2006 that this was based on a true story, I had to go online and check if what she said was true. It’s totally, crazy amazing how a homeless man finds his way back up and establish a multi-million brokerage firm later on. His tenacity and determination are worthy of emulation, and these are two values that children should learn from their fathers. Will Smith played it well here.
6 Mac Macguff (Juno)
You have to admire a dad who can show such restraint. It’s a potential volatile situation when an unmarried teenager has to tell her dad she is pregnant, but Mac handles it so well you can’t help but admire him. Not only does he take the news well, but Juno knows she can always depend on her daddy because he’s a rock who will support her through thick and thin. And, he’s such a champ when Juno tells him she’s putting the baby up for adoption.
7 Marlin (Finding Nemo)
Marlin in “Finding Nemo” is so overprotective and out of his league as a single parent that you just can’t help but love the poor guy! With a cast like Albert Brooks as Marlin, Ellen as Dory, and Alexander Gould as Nemo, you know you’re in for an adventure. I have never seen a father like Marlin who is so protective of his son. While the movie title bears the name of Nemo, this 2003 film that won Academy Award for Best Animated Feature is actually about Marlin, who goes all out in searching for his beloved son and later on, learning to let his son go in the course of his adventure (and misadventures). It’s a happy film suited for all ages so get the entire family out in the living room (or in the bedroom) for one movie night with dad as the center of attention.
8 Bryan Mills (Taken)
Liam Neeson is the top father of all movie dads. He’s the kickass dad you would want to have on your side when someone goes missing. Nothing and no one is going to stop him from finding his daughter. It’s a frightening film to watch, because the sad truth is that our kids can get snatched at any moment no matter how old they are. If your daughter is considering traveling abroad alone or with a friend, this might be the film to watch to teach her a few things before venturing out with people she doesn’t know too well.
9 Professor Henry Jones (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
My friends say it’s too much but frankly, I really don’t mind. This movie released in 1989 when I was only three years old is a fun combination of Senior and Junior played Sean Connery and Harrison Ford. It’s a fantasy and adventure film so expect a lot of ropes to hang on and puzzle pieces to solve.
10 Sleepless in Seattle (Sam)
You know Sam must be a pretty amazing dad when his son calls a radio talk show to set him up on a date! After losing his wife to cancer, Sam, played by Tom Hanks, wants a fresh start for his son, Jonah, so they move from Chicago to Seattle. However, Sam still misses his wife and doesn’t know how to move on, so that’s why Jonah calls the radio station. It’s a sweet and romantic story about a very adorable boy who only wants the best for his dad and won’t settle for anyone who isn’t Annie, Meg Ryan’s character! It’s a must see, a classic "girl falls for guy who lives across the country, but they belong together" kind of movie. Please tell me you've seen it?!
11 The Lion King (Mufasa)
When a character is voiced by actor James Earl Jones, you just know he’s going to be an inspiring character that you’ll never forget. Mufasa may be an animated movie dad, but his fatherly traits are so likable that you forget that a lion is teaching you how to be a better parent! He can be serious at times when trying to teach his young son about life, but he is also playful and charming, the way every dad should aspire to be. I won’t spoil any scenes for you if you have yet to see this classic Disney movie, but be forewarned you may want to wait until your children are a little older before they see this film.
12 Kramer Vs. Kramer (Ted)
At the time of this film’s release in the '70s it was still pretty common for mothers to be the parent who stayed home to raise the children. Most dads were out working like Dustin Hoffman’s character Ted. So when his wife leaves them, he doesn’t know the first thing about how to shop for groceries or cook breakfast, but he learns. “Kramer vs. Kramer” is a heartwarming story about a father who learns how to connect with his son and in the end fights for custody when his ex-wife returns to take the little boy with her. It’s a great film for any dad to watch to learn that life isn’t just about going to work so you can make a decent living for your family.
13 Captain Von Trapp (the Sound of Music)
It's really heart-warming to watch this distant, strict father open up to his children (with the help of Maria, of course). Once he puts down the whistle (REALLY?), he comes much more involved, and in the end, his children learn the truth - he loves them, truly, deeply.
14 President Business (the LEGO Movie)
Okay, okay, hear me out on this one. Sure, Will Ferrell's father figure starts off as a bit of a control freak, so much so that his son sees him as the Bad Guy in his pretend play. But once he realizes what he's done, he morphs into the Best Dad Ever.
15 Harry Stamper (Armageddon)
Ok, so things so things don’t really start off well with Harry. Having brought up daughter Grace as a single dad, he is somewhat protective – even to the point of shooting her boyfriend in the leg. Of course, it’s all done in the name of “I don’t want you to end up like me. You deserve better” but he soon comes round to the way of thinking that Grace has found the man she wants and eventually sacrifices himself in outer space so AJ can o home to look after his daughter.
Being a great movie dad isn’t about whether he’s a cartoon character or a well-known movie star; it’s about what we learn and carry with us even ten years after seeing the film. Did your favorite movie dad make the list? I know there are many more great movie dads that could have been included, but I’m pretty certain I narrowed down my list to some of the best! Who on the list do you think is the greatest movie dad?
This article was produced in collaboration with Editor Neecey Beresford
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