From ‘Finding Nemo’ to “Boyz N the Hood’: 10 memorable movie dads

06/15/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:24 AM

Sometimes, father does know best. But not always, especially in the movies. So in honor of Father’s Day, here are 10 memorable (but not necessarily good) movie dads:

•  Marlin (Albert Brooks) in “Finding Nemo” (2003) — You gotta love an unfunny clownfish, especially one as neurotic though well-meaning as Marlin. He’s clingy and overprotective, but he learns that letting go is the hardest part of being a father.

Fatherly advice: “You think you can do these things, but you just can’t, Nemo!”

•  Capt. Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) in “The Sound of Music” (1965) — Now here’s a multi-tasking dad: While not ruling his seven children with military precision, he must find a governess to teach them about their favorite things and sneak them all out of Nazi-occupied Austria.

Fatherly advice: “The first rule of this household is discipline.”

•  The Old Man (Darren McGavin) in “A Christmas Story” (1983) — While not changing flat tires, winning “major awards” or weaving obscenities that still hang in space over Lake Michigan, the Old Man got his son Ralphie exactly what he wanted for Christmas – a Red Ryder BB gun.

Fatherly advice: “He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny.”

•  George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) — He had high hopes of getting out of the little town of Bedford Falls, but instead he became like a father to everyone in it.

Fatherly advice: “I want to do something big and something important.”

•  Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne) in “Boyz N the Hood” (1991) — He was the calm, wise anchor to a son trying to navigate young adulthood amid roiling violence in south central Los Angeles.

Fatherly advice: “Now I want you to give me the gun.”

•  H.I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage) in “Raising Arizona” (1987) — Sure, he was a career criminal, but when his wife discovers her womb is “a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase,” he takes it upon himself to get a child by kidnapping one.

Fatherly advice: “Well … it ain’t ‘Ozzie and Harriet.’ ”

•  Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) in “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) — Probably the most evil father in movie history. I mean, who would cut his son’s hand off?

Fatherly advice: “You have controlled your fear. Now, release your anger.”

•  Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) in “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983) — Probably the goofiest father in movie history, but after mishaps and roadblocks, literally, all Clark really wanted to do was show his family a good time. What’s wrong with that?

Fatherly advice: “This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun.”

•  Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) in “The Incredibles” (2004) — Bored with his family life, he yearned to rekindle his superhero flame within. But he learned the true heroics of being a husband and father.

Fatherly advice: “I can’t lose you again! I can’t. Not again. I’m not … strong enough.”

•  Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) in “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962) — The ultimate movie father embodied honor. He went against the grain and defended a black man against an undeserved rape charge while teaching his kids – and us – about prejudice.

Fatherly advice: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

About Movie Maniac

The Eagle's Rod Pocowatchit offers his musings on the screen scene.

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