Recognizing our favorite movie dads of all time
Basking in the glow of the big screen, you might see a father go out for a pack of smokes and disappear or chop of his son’s hand with a lightsaber.
But for every underwhelming, absent, or evil father, you’ll also meet plenty of wise and wonderful dads in the movies.
After having celebrated Father’s Day yesterday, we want to keep the tributes going this week — by recognizing the cinematic poppas who've made us giggle, sniffle, and want to call our own dads. Happy extended Father’s Day to these unforgettable Hollywood patriarchs:
Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” 1962)
Patient, noble, and knowledgeable, Atticus Finch, played by the legendary Gregory Peck, rarely escapes a top movie dad or literature dad list. Despite the challenges of living in the deep South of the 1930’s, Atticus raised his children to believe all humans are created equal, no matter their skin color. As the highly principled lawyer told his daughter:
“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni, “Life is Beautiful,” 1997)
In the tragic comedy “Life is Beautiful,” Italian actor Roberto Benigni stars as a Jewish-Italian bookstore owner who tries to shelter his young son from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. Determined to protect his son, Guido refuses to let his own fear or anger surface, even in the face of danger and tremendous atrocities.
Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams, “Mrs. Doubtfire,” 1993)
In one of his most beloved roles, Robin Williams plays a down-on-his-luck actor who disguises himself as an elderly female nanny so he can spend more time with his kids. The lengths his character goes to see his children are at once hilarious and heartwarming.
Mufasa (James Earl Jones, “The Lion King,” 1994)
One of the most memorable fathers in cinematic history also happens to be an animated lion. Mufasa, voiced by James Earl Jones, not only rescues his son from hyenas and stampeding wildebeests, but teaches him valuable lessons on the circle of life and what it means to be brave.
Noah Levenstein (Eugene Levy, “American Pie,” 1999)
Noah Levenstein, better known simply as “Jim’s dad”, went down in history as the archetypal awkward father. For all his goofiness, Jim’s dad genuinely cares about his son, and imparts on him invaluable gems of wisdom such as:
“It’s like banging a tennis ball against a brick wall, which can be fun. It can be fun, but it’s not a game. What you want is a partner to return the ball.”
Marlin (Albert Brooks, “Finding Nemo”, 2003)
Albert Brooks does the voice of this animated clownfish and overprotective father. Marlin scours the sea in search of his missing son, facing his own fears to rescue his fishy offspring from a dentist’s tropical fish tank.
Daniel (Liam Neeson, “Love Actually,” 2003)
When Liam Neeson makes a top movie dad list, it’s usually for his role as the former CIA operative who rescues his kidnapped daughter in the movie “Taken.” But we’d argue that Liam Neeson played his finest father figure in the movie “Love Actually.” As Daniel mourns the death of his wife, he tries to help his stepson, Sam, win the heart of his American classmate. When Sam is about to give up, Daniel urges him on, saying:
“Sam, you've got nothin' to lose, and you'll always regret it if you don't! I never told your mom enough. I should have told her everyday because she was perfect everyday.”