Dear Old Dad … Top 10 Best And Worst Movie Fathers

Posted on June 8, 2016

by April S

Father’s Day falls on the 3rd Sunday in June every year in the United States. According to World Book, the idea of Father’s Day originated in 1909 with Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. She wanted to honor her father, widower William Jackson Smart, who raised six children as a single father, and all other hard working fathers in the nation. While Dodd was able to receive both national and local attention for her efforts it wasn’t recognized as an official national holiday until 1972 when it was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon.

Being a Dad isn’t the easiest job in the world, but the great ones make it look so easy. Let’s all take a moment to thank them for everything they have done for us over the years and take the time to watch a movie together.

Best Movie Fathers

There are many examples of great fathers in the movies. Who could forget Gregory Peck’s superb performance as Atticus Finch in the film To Kill a Mockingbird? Atticus, a single dad, is standing up for what he believes is the right thing to do, which is to represent Tom Robinson, a local man accused of rape, and through it all he is trying to protect his children from the ugliness of prejudice in a small Alabama town. He wants his children to understand that it’s important to stand up for what you believe in even if it isn’t always the easiest or most popular thing to do. Atticus serves as a shining example of what it means to be a father in an often complicated and unjust world. He makes us all proud of fathers and many others who have shown bravery in the face of extraordinary turmoil they experienced when standing up for the rights of the oppressed throughout history.

Father of the Bride - 1950 movie
Father of the Bride (1950) – Spencer Tracy as Stanley T. Banks.

Chaos reigns when the beautiful daughter of a family casually announces her plans to marry. What follows is a warmly humorous story, with wedding preparations, ruffled egos and the unavoidable meeting with the prospective in-laws.
Frequency - 2000 movie
Frequency (2000) – Dennis Quaid as Frank Sullivan.

When a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon of nature opens a mysterious channel to the past, John is stunned to discover that he is able to communicate with his dad who has been dead for 30 years. But by changing the past, they set in motion a string of brutal, unsolved murders. Now father and son must fight to find a way to stop the crime that could destroy the future for both of them.
Mr. Mom - 1983 movie
Mr. Mom (1983) – Michael Keaton as Jack Butler.

Michael Keaton plays a harried house husband and Teri Garr a rising business executive who encounter one problem after another. I’ll agree he’s not the best dad given what transpires during the course of the film, but he is one of the more memorable movie dads. You also can’t deny the fact that he really loves his wife and kids.
The Pursuit of Happyness - 2006 movie
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) – Will Smith as Chris Gardner.

In 1981, Chris Gardner has the desperate inspiration to try for a stockbroker internship where one in twenty has a chance of a lucrative full-time career. Even when his wife leaves him because of this choice, Chris clings to this dream. The odds become more daunting by the day. Together, father and son struggle through homelessness, jail time, tax seizure and the overall punishing despair in a quest that would make Gardner a respected millionaire.
To Kill a Mockingbird - 1962 Movie
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) – Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.

Gregory Peck plays a southern lawyer who defends a black man accused of rape in this film version of the Pulitzer Prizewinning novel. The way in which it captures a time, a place, and above all, a mood, makes this film a masterpiece.

Worst Movie Fathers

While there are a lot of positive movie fathers, there are just as many portrayed in a less than favorable light. When you think of the worst or scariest example over the past several decades you may remember the film The Shining starring Jack Nicholson. While the father, Jack Torrance, meant well by taking his family away to a quiet hotel retreat, he inevitably succumbs to insanity – leading to one of the most memorable and intense horror scenes in cinematic history – “Here’s Johnny!”

The Empire Strikes Back - 1980 movie
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader.

Sure, Darth Vader is an evil genius who controls his very own warship, the Death Star, but he definitely would not win as father of the year. After all, he manages to kidnap his daughter and try to kill his son.
Meet the Parents - 2000 movie
Meet The Parents (2000) – Robert De Niro as Jack Byrnes.

Robert DeNiro plays an overprotective father, where intimidation is taken to the extreme by ex-CIA agent Jack Byrnes. However, he truly cares about his daughter and truly believes he is helping. So, technically he isn’t that bad to his daughter … just to anyone that wants to marry his daughter.
The Shining - 1980 movie
The Shining (1980) – Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance.

A writer and his family are snowbound in a hotel and are haunted by either the hotel itself or the writer’s dementia.
This Boy's Life - 1993 movie
This Boy’s Life (1993) – Robert De Niro as Dwight Hansen.

Caroline just wants to settle down in one place, find a decent guy, and provide a better home for her handful of a son, Toby. When she moves to Seattle and meets Dwight, she thinks she’s got it made. Toby, however, feels differently after spending time with Dwight while away from Caroline. Dwight seems to want to mold Toby into a better person, but to do so he emotionally, verbally, and physically abuses the kid. The marriage proceeds, and soon Caroline, too, recognizes Dwight’s need to dominate everyone around him.
What About Bob? - 1991 movie
What About Bob? (1991) – Richard Dreyfuss as Dr. Leo Marvin.

Bob Wiley, a troubled but lovable therapy patient, seeks help from noted psychiatrist Dr. Leo Marvin. When the doctor leaves town to go on a quiet family vacation, Bob, afraid of being alone, follows–showing up unexpectedly at the therapist’s lakeside retreat. Bob becomes the houseguest that just won’t leave.

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