Clark Griswold and Darth Vader lead the top ten Awesome Dads in Film

By Rebeca Surber

It is that time of year when we celebrate everything dad related: BBQ grills, neckties, power tools and you guessed it, movies.  My dad has long been described as ‘quite the character’ which prompted me to wonder which iconic father figure in film would my padre represent? Finding it beyond difficult to pick just one I’ve decided that George Banks meets Tevye (minus the beard) times Clark Griswald would equal my dad as a movie character. This list highlights the lengths dads will go to for their kids, the fun they have, and the wackiness that is being a dad.

10. 3 MEN AND A BABY – When it comes to multiple father figures, how can you top this picture? Steve Guttenberg! Ted Danson! Tom Selleck! Tom Selleck’s mustache! When a baby has been left at the bachelors’ front door wacky antics ensue as they learn the ropes in a crash course on how to raise an infant.  The best moment has to be when they sing Mary to sleep “Good night sweetheart, good night…”  Toss in a little action to keep it from being a total sap-fest and you’ve got a movie with three amazing dads.

Steve Guttenberg, Tom Selleck, Ted Danson in Three Men and a Baby

9. FANTASTIC MR. FOX – Director Wes Anderson takes Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story and puts his unique storytelling twist to make this great film. When Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) learns that wife, Mrs. Fox (voiced by Meryl Streep) is pregnant, he promises to give up his chicken hunting ways and stay out of trouble. I love the wacky relationship he has with his odd-ball son (voiced by Anderson alum, Jason Schwartzman).  It is great that no matter how much Mr. Fox screws up; his son is there clinging to every word thinking his dad is awesome.

8. MY FATHER THE HERO – Before Katherine Heigl was saving lives on Grey’s Anatomy or getting KNOCKED UP, she was the spoiled, lovesick teen, Nicole in MY FATHER THE HERO. While on vacation with her divorced father Andre (Gérard Depardieu) she lies to a boy she has a crush on, claiming she is on vacation with her lover . . . not her father. This lie spreads throughout the island and through a series of mistaken moments we get a fun and lighthearted movie.  Depardieu is wonderful in this picture and  each time he does anything the resort guests and employees seem more and more disgusted with this older man and his young ‘mistress’.

Dalton James, Katherine Heigl, Gérard Depardieu in My Father The Hero

7. FIDDLER ON THE ROOF – Set in 1905, we follow Tevye, a poor Jewish man who works hard to maintain his family and find suitable husbands for his daughters. With wonderful and memorable music these tunes will stick with you long after the movie is over. Personally, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard my dad sing musical numbers from this soundtrack over the years. Hard working and caring, I think this movie character sums up most every dad I know.

6. FLY AWAY HOME – Based on true events, when 13 year old Amy Alden’s mother dies in a tragic accident, Amy (Anna Paquin) moves to live with her estranged artistic father, Tom (Jeff Daniels).  Unsure of how to act around one another, the duo find common ground when the forest nearby gets bulldozed without permission leaving a nest of geese eggs exposed to the elements. Together, they raise the geese and take them on a migratory route south to a bird sanctuary in North Carolina.  Racing against time and other obstacles, Tom and Amy become a fantastic father-daughter team.

Jeff Daniels, Anna Paquin in Fly Away Home

5. MR. MOM – I know we highlighted this film in the brilliant Michael Keaton Driver’s EDitorial, but how can you keep this off the awesome dad’s of film list? In this classic 80s comedy, Jack, father of three does not know how to be a stay at home parent. When he is laid off, his wife (Terri Garr) goes to work throwing him into the role and he must sink or swim. I find this entire movie to be wonderful and love ever minute that has the great Keaton in it.

4. TAKEN – A former intelligence agent’s teen daughter (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped while vacationing in Europe with a friend. Knowing that time is his greatest enemy, he must work quickly to guarantee his daughter does not become a statistic and is never seen again. Unlucky for the bad guys but lucky for Bryan Mills (the fantastic Liam Neeson) he has a specific set of skills from his former career. He vows to track and kill the men responsible for this – all while saving his daughter’s life. This high action and tense drama really highlights the lengths any father would do for his child if he had the means. Such a great movie – it makes you want to hug your dad after watching, then high-five him for being such a rock star.

Liam Neeson in Taken

3. FATHER OF THE BRIDE – I cannot tell you how many times my family has watched this film, how annoyed my dad is at Frank (Martin Short) and how frequently this flick was referenced when planning my own wedding. In this delightful film featuring Steve Martin as George Banks, we see a man unravel at the seams when trying to put together the perfect wedding for his daughter, Annie (Kimberly Williams – Paisley).  Most fathers can probably relate to the zany antics George gets into even though they might not be as extreme or awkward.  If you are in the planning stages of your wedding and you have not done this yet, sit down with your pop, watch this picture and take notes on how not to behave when meeting the in-laws.

2. STAR WARS – This next phrase will probably get me kicked out as a writer for this site but here it goes. I have never watched the entire STAR WARS trilogy. I’ve seen bits and pieces and watched the one with the ewoks as part of course curriculum for a leadership class I took long ago.  Despite my lack of STAR WARS knowledge, I have to mention this film for two reasons. 1. Your dad probably loves it. 2. “Luke, I am your father”.

1. VACATION – Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) is epitome of the well-meaning dad with large ambitions and good intentions that sometimes get carried away.  In the film that kicked off the stream of Griswold family films to follow, VACATION is at the top of my dad-movie list. When the family decides to drive across the country to get to the world famous amusement park, Walley World, things start off bad and just get worse along the way.  With hilarious supporting characters and more than a handful of quotable moments how can you not enjoy the wonderful Griswold family? One of the best ‘dad’ moments is when Clark races his son to the entrance of Walley World, Clark puts his hand in front of Rusty to slow him down a bit. Classic.

Anthony Michael Hall, Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Dana Barron in National Lampoon's Vacation

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