Best and Worst Film Dads

As the famous conclusion to Mrs Doubtfire says, there are all sorts of different families:

“Some families have one mummy, some families have one daddy, or two families, and some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighbourhoods, in different areas of the country, and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months, even years at a time. But if there's love, dear, those are the ties that bind, and you'll have a family in your heart forever.”

That speech makes me cry every time. On that note, in honour of Father's Day, here is my list of the best and worst film dads.


1) My Father The Hero – Andre
Not many dads would agree to pretend to be their daughter's lover so they can impress a boy. This hilarious romantic comedy starring Gerard Depardieu and a young Katherine Heigl is a great film about the lengths a father will go to help his daughter, no matter how ridiculous or potentially dangerous it might be. Here's a quote from Andre: “I've been walking around here with you the past few days. They think I'm child molester!” And here's a classic clip:

2) Mrs Doubtfire – Daniel Hillard
A father dressing up as a woman so he can see his children while he goes through a nasty divorce with their mother is perhaps a little extreme, but with Robin Williams in the role you're sure to laugh – a lot.

3) The Lion King – Mufasa
It's been nearly 20 years since Mufasa died protecting his son from a stampede, and I'm still angry about it. I cry every time. You win, Disney, well done. Here's a quote from Mufasa: “ Simba, let me tell you something my father told me. Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars … so whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I.”

4) John Q. – John Quincy Archibald
A father whose insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant, takes the hospital's emergency room hostage until the doctors agree to perform the operation. Heartbreaking film starring Denzel Washington.

5) I Am Sam – Sam Dawson
A mentally impaired father fights for the custody of his seven-year-old daughter. Sean Penn gives the performance of his career in this film that is sure to bring tears to your eyes. If this film doesn't make you feel love, I don't know what will. Here's an emotional clip:

6) Three Fugitives – Ned Perry
This is a hilarious and endearing film starring Martin Short and Nick Nolte. On his first day after being released from jail for 14 armed bank robberies, Lucas (Nolte) finds himself caught up in someone else's robbery. Ned Perry (Short) needs the money so that he can keep his daughter, Meg, and get her the treatment she needs. But the police think Lucas helped plan the robbery, so the trio become fugitives.

7) Nick of Time – Gene Watson
Johnny Depp plays an ordinary man who must kill a politician to save his kidnapped daughter.

8) Three Men and a Baby – Michael, Peter and Jack
Three bachelors are forced to take care of a baby left on their doorstep by one of the guys' girlfriends. Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg star in this hilarious and often awkward film with some great one-liners. Here's a clip:

9) Annie – Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks
It's not every day a billionaire adopts an orphan, unless you're part of the Jolie-Pitt family. This classic film based on a comic strip and a Broadway play stands the test of time.

10) The Sound of Music – Captain von Trapp
Christopher Plummer plays a naval officer and a widower. He also has seven children. Sure the old captain is a little gruff in the beginning but that's just because he's sad and doesn't know how to raise his children. Luckily Julie Andrews is around to fix that problem and help make Captain von Trapp a great father who risks everything to save his family from the Nazis during World War Two.

11) Father of the Bride – George Banks
Steve Martin stars as George Banks – a man who loves his daughter so much, that he doesn't want her to grow up and get married. It's something all fathers can relate to. There is also a Spencer Tracy version of this film if you prefer the classic. Here's a clip:

12) To Kill A Mockingbird – Atticus Finch
This is the kind of father you can learn a valuable lesson from. Atticus is a lawyer during the Great Depression in America's south, who defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge. Beautiful story. Everyone should read the book too.

13) It's A Wonderful Life – George Bailey
Jimmy Stewart's most memorable role. He plays a man who chooses self-sacrifice for the well-being of his family and town. It almost destroys him until an angel shows him what life would be like if he never existed. A good film about the meaning of life.

14) The Last Song – Steve Miller
Greg Kinnear plays a dad who allows his children to believe he ran out on them when in fact their mother had an affair. Through a summer, he reconnects with his children just in time before tragedy strikes their family.

15) Love Actually – Daniel
Liam Neeson's character is mourning the loss of his wife but his stepson is also trying to woo a girl at school, so of course, he puts his mourning on hold so he can help his son win the girl. So sweet. Here's a clip:

16) The Castle – Darryl Kerrigan
Arguably Australia's favourite fictional dad, Darryl Kerrigan, played by Michael Caton, takes on an airport and the government when he goes to the High Court to fight for his family's home. It is un-Australian not to love this film. “It's the vibe of the thing”.

17) Big Daddy – Sonny Koufax
He may not have started out as father material, but through the course of the film, Sonny Koufax learns a valuable lesson about caring for a child. I'm going to make an unpopular comment here and say that I think this is Adam Sandler's best film.

18) 10 Things I Hate About You – Walter Stratford
Based on William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew (a classic you should all read and see performed on stage at some point) Walter Stratford loves his daughters so much he doesn't let them date and he makes them wear a fake pregnancy belly to show them the consequences of unprotected teenage sex. Hilarious! A great performance from Heath Ledger in this film too. Here's a ridiculous quote from Walter: “I've got news for you. I'm down, I've got the 411, and you are not going out and getting jiggy with some boy, I don't care how dope his ride is. Mamma didn't raise no fool!”

19) Dirty Dancing – Dr Jake Houseman
He may have put “baby in a corner” but Jake Houseman, played by Jerry Orbach, is still a good dad. After all, he did help Penny when she got “in trouble” and after his reluctance to let Baby (Jennifer Grey) hang out with Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), he finally comes around to the idea. As he says, “When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong.” Here's a clip:

20) The Godfather – Don Vito Corleone
Arguably the most famous Mafia don and patriarch, Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, values family above all else. Sure, he's technically a “bad guy” but he's still a good dad. As he says, “A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man.”


1) Star Wars – Darth Vader
It's kind of awkward when you find out your enemy is your father.

2) The Shining – Jack Torrance
Sucks when your dad goes nuts and starts killing everyone. Here's a clip:

3) This Boy's Life – Dwight Hansen
Robert De Niro plays an abusive father in this film based on the memoirs of Tobias Wolff. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an amazing performance too.

4) American Beauty – Lester Burnham
Dads should never, ever fall in love with their daughter's friends.

5) The Breakfast Club – everyone's dads
These dads represent all the dads who may not be obviously evil, but either don't care or judge the actions of their children too harshly. It's also one of John Hughes' best comedy classic from the 80's. Here's a clip:

Who are your best and worst film dads?