This Sunday is Father’s Day, the holiday where you show the paternal figure in your life how much you appreciate all he’s done for you with the gift of an ugly tie. While we contemplate the injustice of that, let’s take a look at some of our favorite movie and TV dads in today’s Roundtable.
He may not be the best TV dad, but Walter White of ‘Breaking Bad‘ fame remains one of the medium’s most interesting fathers. You know the story: High school chemistry teacher finds out he has terminal cancer, so he starts making meth in order to ensure that his family is financially secure when he’s gone. ‘Breaking Bad’ is, without a doubt, one of the best shows in the history of television, and a large part of that acclaim comes from the characterization of Walter White, and Bryan Cranston’s electric performance. After years of playing the bumbling dad in ‘Malcolm in the Middle’, his turn as Walter is nothing short of a revelation. And with the final season set to start up on August 11th, there’s no better time to start the show from the beginning. But first, let’s catch that fly that’s buzzing around.
Movie Dad: There are obviously a lot of great candidates for this subject, so I’ll just go with the first one to pop into my head: Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) from ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade‘. Since George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s original idea for Indiana Jones was to do something as exciting and fun as the James Bond series, who better than to play Indy’s father than the original James Bond himself? But the character isn’t what we’d expect… he’s less of an adventurer and more of a scholar than his offspring, but he complements his son perfectly in what I consider to be the best film of the series.
TV Dad: He was far from perfect, both in his professional and personal lives, but that’s probably one of the reasons we loved ‘The Sopranos‘ dad Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) so much. What other father would take his daughter to tour a college campus only to get sidetracked when he spots a former associate who turned FBI informant? While his daughter is turning out fine, Tony’s only son is an underachiever who’s the mirror opposite of his tough-guy father. It’s hard to raise a family when you’re in the Family.
M. Enois Duarte
Who could possibly be a better dad than Clark Griswold, played with hilarious perfection by Chevy Chase in the ‘Vacation‘ movies? No other father in television or film tries as desperately to please his family and kids, and he does it with genuine devotion and pursuit of their happiness. The poor schmuck fails more often than succeeds, but the man never stops trying, even if his kids think him an embarrassment. All he wants is to make everyone happy and have a good time, to hear Rusty and Audrey thank him for the awesome fun and think him the coolest dad ever. Well, Clark, you’re cool in my book, and you’re my favorite movie dad.
I have several here. Sorry, I went overboard. I couldn’t just choose one.
- Noah Levenstein (Eugene Levy) from ‘American Pie‘. This dad has gone beyond the call of duty for his son Jim’s antics, from those awkward but endearing talks about sex to bringing his son to a hospital to get rid of some glue from his member. Not many dads would be this cool, but Mr. Levenstein is always there no matter the cost and without getting angry.
- Chris Gardner (Will Smith) from ‘The Pursuit of Happyness‘. After his wife left him and his son struggling to make ends meet, Chris decides to bet everything he’s gotl on an internship at a financial firm. Homeless at times and not able to eat full meals for months, Chris did everything he could to take care of his son while he worked to achieve a good job and his dream. He always put his son first.
- Bob Ivanovich (Michael Keaton) from ‘My Life‘. What a tearjerker of a movie. Bob has deadly cancer, which will take his life in a matter of months. He won’t be around for his son to be born, but that doesn’t stop him from being in the boy’s life. Bob takes his home video camera to record life lessons, read bedtime stories, and teache his son how to shave, listen to cool music and drive. It’s a powerful movie.
- Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) from ‘Mr. Mom‘. Yes, Keaton has two entries on my list. Jack is let go from his job at the car factory while his wife accepts a job with an advertising firm. Their roles are reversed, so that his wife is the lead breadwinner and Jack plays the housewife to their three young kids. Jack soon finds that running a household is harder than he thinks, but takes to the new duties well with some very funny moments.
- Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) from ‘Kramer vs. Kramer‘. Ted is a hardworking man who provides for his family well. This causes him to be at work more than at home, but when his wife leaves him in the middle of the night with their young kid, he quickly has to play both mom and dad in his busy schedule. He does the best he can and becomes an amazing father.
- John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington) from ‘John Q‘. John’s son collapses at a Little League game due to a bad heart and is sent to the ICU in need of a heart transplant. When John can’t pay the medical bills and his insurance company won’t pay for the procedure, John takes matters into his own hands and takes the hospital hostage. He’ll gladly lend his own heart for his son’s survival.
- Damon MacReady (Nicolas Cage) from ‘Kick-Ass‘. Damon may not be your typical father, but he has good reasons for it. He has trained his little girl to become a killing machine and assassin to take out the bad guys in their city. He looks after her every second of every day and is willing to sacrifice himself for his only daughter. Even when he’s set on fire, he still gives her advice. What a great dad.
- Homer Simpson from ‘The Simpsons‘. Homer may not be the perfect dad, as we’ve seen time and time again, but his heart is always in the right place and he’s always there for his family no matter the circumstances.
There are a lot of great choices for favorite dad from various shows and movies, but I have to go with Martin Crane (John Mahoney) from ‘Frasier‘. Not only did he offer a counterbalance for the high level of refinement of the two younger Cranes, but his mix of ex-cop street smarts and cantankerous love for his chair and Ballantine beer helped him be a TV dad for the ages. He was also perfect in a very similar role in the 1996 Ed Burns film, ‘She’s the One‘, where his turn as Mr. Fitzpatrick practically steals the show.
No list of best movie dads could possibly be complete without mentioning Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird‘, as played by the great Gregory Peck. He’s a kind and loving, but strong and above all moral father, who teaches his children by example and lives by the ideals he fosters in them, no matter the personal consequences. He’s the type of paternal figure I wish that I’d had, and the kind of father I’d like to be.
Tell us about your favorite movie and TV dads in the Comments.
Tags: American Pie, Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston, Chevy Chase, Denzel Washington, Dustin Hoffman, Eugene Levy, Father's Day, Frasier, Gregory Peck, Indiana Jones, James Gandolfini, John Mahoney, Kick-Ass, Kramer vs Kramer, Michael Keaton, Mr. Mom, Nicolas Cage, Pursuit of Happyness, Sean Connery, Simpsons, The Sopranos, To Kill a Mockingbird, Vacation, Weekend Roundtable, Will Smith