From Darth Vader (“Luke, I am your father”) to Mufasa (“Remember who you are”), there have been plenty of memorable movie dads over the years (and they’re not all played by James Earl Jones!).
Here are some of our favourite cinematic father figures. They’re brave, funny, kind and understanding, and we always enjoy spending a couple hours hanging with them.
Don’t forget to tell us what you thought of our list, and send us your picks for top movie dads:
Matt King, The Descendants
In this Oscar-winning drama, George Clooney plays a recent widower struggling to come to terms with his late wife’s adultery. He’s emotionally closed-off and definitely flawed, but seeing him slowly begin to connect with his two daughters is extremely touching. The fact that he looks like George Clooney doesn’t hurt either.
Clark Griswold, National Lampoon’s Vacation (and sequels)
Yes, Clark’s a bit of a doofus. And he certainly doesn’t always make the right choices. But we can appreciate Clark’s dogged devotion to creating the perfect holiday for his family. (We also appreciate Chevy Chase’s hilarious portrayal of the bumbling suburban dad.) Clark’s heart is always in the right place, even when the Christmas tree goes up in flames!
Georg von Trapp, The Sound of Music
Captain von Trapp, played by the wonderful Christopher Plummer, starts out a stern, cold father, even using a whistle to call his children to order (oh dear). But the arrival of spirited governess Maria helps him see the error of his ways and he becomes warm and affectionate. Our hearts always melt when he tenderly sings “Edelweiss” with his adoring family.
Mr. Incredible, The Incredibles
This is one of those terrific animated films that you will enjoy just as much as your kids do! Mr. Incredible is an aging superhero wondering what life’s really all about when he’s swept up into a daring, secret adventure. But when his family is thrust into danger, he realizes that nothing’s more important than they are.
Guido Orefice, Life Is Beautiful
Actor/director Roberto Benigni plays a Jewish-Italian man interned during WWII who creates an elaborate game to shield his young son from the horrors of the Holocaust. This Italian-language masterpiece is one of the most poignant and heartrending depictions of the fatherly love ever committed to celluloid. A must-watch.
Marlin, Finding Nemo
When his young son Nemo is captured by scuba divers, tenacious clownfish Marlin embarks on a quest to save him. This visually stunning Pixar film is one of our favourite animated films – and our kids too! Albert Brooks is wonderful as the neurotic but loving Marlin (and Ellen DeGeneres is hysterical as memory-challenged blue tang fish Dory).
Daniel Hillard, Mrs. Doubtfire
Robin Williams created one of his finest performances as a loving divorced dad determined to spend more time with his kids. When Daniel loses custody, he creates a jolly alter-ego named Mrs. Doubtfire, and gets a job as the kids’ nanny. Hilarious antics ensue, as Daniel attempts to maintain a connection with his kids and also keep his secret under wraps.
Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird
Could Atticus Finch be the most admirable movie dad of all time? We loved this book when we read it in elementary school, and the film is just as stirring. Gregory Peck plays a small-town lawyer defending an innocent black man in Alabama during the 1930s, despite the town’s condemnation. A classic depiction of a great man standing up for the oppressed in a difficult time.
George Banks, Father of the Bride
Although we also like the 1950 movie version starring Spencer Tracy, nothing beats Steve Martin as an exasperated but loving father, dealing with the mounting complications of his daughter’s impending marriage. George’s interactions with European wedding designer “Franck” (played with gusto by Martin Short) and a too-small tuxedo are gut-bustingly funny. But totally sweet as well.
Chris Gardner, Pursuit of Happyness
Will Smith plays a courageous single dad faced with homelessness and determined to make a better life for his child. This movie was based on the incredible true story of Chris Gardner, who went from down-and-out to live as a successful businessman. We think it’s an inspiring story about the value of hard work and perseverance, and how the love of a parent can move mountains.