My Favorite Movie Fathers
This Father’s Day, honor those movie fathers that have inspired us, made us laugh, made us cry, and showed us just what it means to be a dad. To celebrate those famous dads, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite 21st century movie fathers, in no particular order:
- Bryan Mills, played by Liam Neeson, Taken (20th Century Fox, 2008). When the ex-CIA agent’s daughter is kidnapped by sex traffickers in Paris, Dad gets on a plane, tracks the bad guys down, rescues his daughter, and creates mayhem along the way. He gets the kidnapper on the phone and tells him, “What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” He then proceeds to hunt the kidnapper down to save his daughter. When this guy tells his daughter’s date to have her home by 10:00, he’d better listen!
- Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness (Columbia Pictures, 2006). This movie father gets extra credit, since he was a real person. After his business fails and his wife leaves him, Chris struggles to raise his five year old son. Gambling on an unpaid internship at Dean Witter, Chris ends up homeless, but always makes sure his son is cared for. The scene in which Chris and his son have to spend a night in a public restroom in a subway station will break your heart. Chris’ unique approach to selling stocks and his business strategy earns him a job and eventual financial success, but the real message in this film is Chris’ love for his son, and his son’s unfailing confidence in his dad.
- Reese Bobby, played by Gary Cole, Talladega Nights: The Legend Of Ricky Bobby (Relativity Media, 2006). Okay, deadbeat dad Reese Bobby is not exactly father of the year material, but when he shows up to help his NASCAR driver son Ricky (played by Will Ferrell) regain his confidence after a bad crash, it is comedic gold. His completely irresponsible, but somehow effective techniques include locking Ricky in the car with a live cougar and tricking him into a high-speed chase with the. A team of legal professionals will be needed to extricate Bobby, but Reese got the job done. Reese is not the best movie dad, but he is certainly the funniest, and shows that even a free spirited ne’er-do-well can love his kid.
- The Man, played by Viggo Mortenson , The Road (Dimension Films, 2009). This move father doesn’t even have a name, but he exemplifies a father’s willingness to sacrifice for his children. Father and son are left alone to wander in search of food and shelter in a post-apocalyptic America. The Man will do anything to protect his Boy, even preparing to kill his son to keep him from being captured by cannibals. The beauty of this film is the relationship between father and son, in which the roles are sometimes reversed. The Boy teaches his father about compassion in a world in where compassion is scarce.
- Richard Hoover, played by Greg Kinnear, Little Miss Sunshine (Big Beach Films, 2006). Richard, Hoover, father to Olive (played by Abigail Breslin), takes his family on a road trip to Redondo Beach. California so Olive can compete in a beauty pageant. Despite many pitfalls along the way, Richard is determined to get Olive to the Pageant on time. When the chips are down, Richard is willing to get on stage amid boos and catcalls, to support his daughter. Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Family Vacation), gets an honorable mention as another dad determined to get his family to their destination, but Richard Hoover’s character is played less for laughs. The way the whole family comes together to support one of their own is moving, even in the context of a comedic film.
- Mac MacGuff, played by J.K Simmons, Juno (Mandate Pictures, 2007). Mac has raised his teen-aged daughter to be confident, level-headed, and smart. Nevertheless, mistakes happen, and when Juno ends up pregnant after her first sexual encounter, Mac responds with grace, compassion, and even a sense of humor. While his first reaction, like that of many fathers in the same situation, is to want to do some personal harm to the boy that got his little girl in such a fix, no lawsuits or personal injury attorneys are needed. Mac brings the kids and both sets of parents together for an honest discussion, and supports his daughter as she goes through the pregnancy and must decide on whether to go through with an adoption or raise the child as her own.