Google ‘Best Movie Dads’ and a list as long as Hammurabi’s Code of Top 10’s, Top 15’s, All-Time, Most-Memorable will fill your screen. While it is great someone took the time to list for us the top fathers from the silver screen, there is a bit of an issue I have. These lists don’t change. The only thing that is different among any of them is how long they are and the numerical position of each name.
On most of these lists you’ll see Bryan Mills, Clark Griswold, Chris Gardner, and Professor Henry Jones, Marlin the Clownfish, Vito Corleone, and Atticus Finch. These names are fine but some names of the Dads on these lists don’t even belong on a list of Great Movie Dads. Darth Vader was responsible for the destruction of an entire planet, cut off his son’s hand, tried to get him to become evil, and after watching his son take half a dozen force lightning strikes finally decided to help (no disrespect to my favorite Sith Lord, I sleep on a Darth Vader pillow case). John Maclane was such a good dad, his wife and kids moved from NYC to Los Angeles without him. And even after single-handedly taking down international gun-toting thieves, jumping off of a high rise using a fire hose as a bungee cord, coining a signature catchphrase, and multiple sequels, his family was always considered to be “estranged” from him.
I want to add new names to these lists for Top Movie Dads so I did some digging. I wanted to find Dads you haven’t seen on a list from Babble, or Entertainment Weekly, or Film Magazine. Dads who you may not have thought of. Dads who deserve a place on the list, in my opinion, before some of the other ones who are firmly entrenched there. I think I have succeeded.
8 Movie Dads We (Almost) Forgot
Enemy Mine (1985)
Willis Davidge crash lands on the uninhabited world of Fyrine IV with his sworn enemy, a Drac named Jeriba Shigan. After three years, crazy cold winters, meteor showers, and avoiding Scavengers, Jeriba has a child (Davidge had no idea Drac’s reproduce asexually which makes you wonder what the hell they talked about for 3 years) and subsequently dies during childbirth but not before Jeriba tells Willis that he needs to take his place. To be a parent. Though not the infant Drac’s father, Willis essentially adopts Zammis (the Drac child) as his own as he teaches him, cares for him, and protects him on Fyrine IV. While Zammis calls Willis “Uncle”, it is clear Willis Davidge thinks of himself not as an uncle but as a father. His name being added to the history records in the Holy Council halls on the planet Drac in the Line of Jeriba only reinforces that.
Jack the Bear (1993)
John Leary is a radio personality, widower, father of 2 sons, and an alcoholic. Throughout the course of the movie, John battles personal demons, the challenges of being a single father, and goes toe to toe with his neo-Nazi neighbor. While John’s eldest son Jack is the central character of the movie, what is clear throughout is John’s love for his children. His parenting, at times is questionable but all of his motivation is fueled by his sons. The turmoil, conflict, and final resolution of Jack the Bear could not have been accomplished without the trials John had to endure as a father and letting his son know, his strength as a parent is proportional to his love for his boys.
Forget Jor-El. Yes, he had the foresight to have a spaceship at the ready and capable of traversing star systems to the perfect planet for his son to become a man of steel but Krypton was 3 minutes away from exploding, what else was he supposed to do? The father we should be looking up at is Jonathan Kent. Convinced by his wife to “adopt” an infant who had crashed landed on Earth only to find out their alien son had superhuman abilities, he dealt with those awkward teenage years (try finding a razor sharp enough to cut Superman’s hair) and managed to maintain a gigantic farm all at same time. No wonder the guy had a heart attack. Jor-El doesn’t show back up until after Jonathan is dead and Clark’s super acne has cleared up. Where Jor-El was Superman’s father, Jonathan Kent was his Dad.
Forest Gump (1993)
Forest Gump met three presidents, fought in Vietnam, played football for Bear Bryant, became a multi-millionaire, and ran across the country more times than most of us walk the entire mall, is it any wonder he would have a kid? When his Jenny tells him the boy is his, not only does he not ask for a paternity test (I know, Jenny slept with him specifically to get pregnant but after years of sex, drugs, Black Panther rallies, and rock and roll, would she have blamed him if he would have asked?) but Forest scoops everyone up and brings them back to Greenbow, AL where all three live like peas and carrots…and baby carrots.
Wilbur ‘Shooter’ Flatch was a bit of a drunk. Actually, Shooter made Arthur Bach look like the President of the National Association of Teetotalers. Yet, he managed to dry himself out long enough to call one of the most famous plays in sports movie history and lead Hickory to a win against Duggar in the final seconds of the game. Parents aren’t perfect and sometimes they need redemption and by sobering up, Shooter found that redemption and in turn a new relationship with his son.
Rocky II-V & Rocky Balboa (1979, 1982, 1985, 1990, 2006)
Boxing is represented on Top Dad lists but it is either for Billy Flynn or Andy Purcell with no mention of the Italian Stallion? Flynn and Purcell were degenerate gamblers, drunks, Purcell lost his son Dink’s horse to bad bets and both end up dying after winning the title. You know what Rocky Balboa did? Ignored training for his Championship rematch against Apollo Creed so he could sit by his coma stricken pregnant wife until she woke up, then won the belt, lost the belt, won the belt, flew to Russia at Christmas, took on a steroid filled Ivan Drago, got his head pounded in for 15 rounds, beat the heavily favored Russian, remembered to wish his son a Merry Christmas, ended the Cold War, taught his son how to street fight, the meaning of Home Team, called his son out for blaming everything except himself, and has him in his corner during his last fight against the current champ. And by unanimous decision, the winnder and still heavyweight champion of the woooooooooooorld (and great dad)…Rocky Balboa.
Harry and the Hendersons (1987)
George Henderson was just a regular guy. Good husband and father and unlikely animal activist. George runs down a Sasquatch on his way home from a family vacation and instead of reporting it to a park ranger, the cops, or Inside Edition, he decides to strap it to the roof of his woody station wagon and take him home. Did you know that raccoons are carries of various diseases, bacteria, viruses, and parasites? Things like rabies, canine distemper, parvoviralenterites, hepatitis, psuedorabies, listeriosis, round worms, lice, and ticks. Could you imagine what is festering on a Sasquatch? Not to mention the Sasquatch is 8’ tall and stronger than 30 men. My Dad wouldn’t let us have a dog that weighed more than 15 pounds. George Henderson brings home a Sasquatch, does everything he can to make his new family pet feel at home (thanks in part to his neighbor’s swimming pool and easily broken trim pieces around his house), and puts himself in harms’ way to protect a mythological wild animal for his family.
Before Bryan Mills was singlehandedly foiling an international sex slave operation and Michael Sullivan Sr was bringing the most powerful Irish mob in Chicago to its knees, John Matrix was oozing with Dad awesomeness (even his name was cool). A retired Delta Force Colonel and father to one girl, Jenny, Matrix rediscovers his innate knack for killing when Jenny is kidnapped by a former colleague. Matrix snaps a guy’s neck while waiting for the peanuts to come on a flight, jumps out of an airplane, handles an M202A1 Flash Rocket Launcher like Chris Paul handles the rock, flips a Porsche with his bare hands, recruits Rae Dawn Chong to help him, uses a rotary saw blade as the biggest and baddest throwing star ever, impales his archenemy with a piece of metal pipe, spits out one liners as easily as he carves a path of destruction, saves his daughter, and does it all within 11 hours.