The best movie dads

Taken (2008)

The movie dad: Most dads would react to the kidnap of their daughter with a mixture of fear and panic, but not Bryan Mills. He just gets very, very cross. Never has a dad been more single-minded in his mission to help his child, as Mills brings his full array of "special skills" to bear on the wrong 'uns who've kidnapped his daughter.

True Romance (1993)

The movie dad: Cliff Worley doesn’t sound like he was the best dad while young Clarence was growing up, but once the two are reunited, he goes above and beyond the call of duty, refusing to disclose his son’s location to Christopher Walken and his posse of mafiosos. Bravo. 

Knocked Up (2007)

The movie dad: No, we're not talking about Seth Rogen's character here, we want to celebrate Paul Rudd's Pete, who must be doing something right as a dad to have brought up such a pair of adorable kids. Witness the way he happily makes a fool of himself at their birthday party to see just how ace he is.

My Life (1993)

The movie dad: Bob Ivanovich isn’t going to get the opportunity to watch his son grow up, but that isn’t about to stop him from being a key figure in his life, as he sets about video-recording himself doing a range of fatherly activities, including telling him bedtime stories and teaching him how to shave and drive.

Jaws (1975)

The movie dad: Chief Brody pushes himself to breaking point on behalf of making Amity Island a safer place for his kids, facing his fear of the rolling sea in order to go and hunt a giant man-eating shark. If a good father is a good protector, then Brody is a shining beacon of parenthood.

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

The movie dad: Nigel Powers, who despite being a feckless, womanising doss-artist, manages to reconcile the world's biggest supervillain with the world's grooviest secret agent, by telling Austin and Dr. Evil that they're brothers. Everyone ends up happy. 

National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

The movie dad: Clark Griswold is determined that his family have the vacation of a lifetime, so much so that he’s willing to pull a gun on a security officer in order to ensure they get to ride a rollercoaster. It’s not the kind of behaviour you’ll find in any parenting handbook, but hey... he gets results.

The Way (2010)

The movie dad: Thomas Avery might not have been fully on board with his son Daniel’s expedition along the Camino de Santiago, but when Avery Jr. dies on the trip, Thomas decides to finish the boy’s journey himself. Touching stuff. 

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

The movie dad: On the one hand, you could argue that seeing your father dressed as an elderly woman, peeing standing up, and setting his breasts on fire might have some adverse effects later down the line. On the other hand, there’s no denying Daniel Hillard’s love for his kids. An odd dad, but a decent one.

John Q (2002)

The movie dad: When he finds himself unable to pay the cost of his son's medical bills, John Quincy Archibald does what any decent dad would do and takes a hospital full of people hostage. Eventually the doctors warm to his plight and do the job for free. All they need is a heart donor, and John Q is only too happy to hand his over. Job done. 

Star Wars (1977-1983)

The movie dad: Now, we know Darth Vader is the embodiment of evil in a galaxy far, far away, but he does make amends at the last, laying down his life in order to save his son Luke and defeat Emperor Palpatine. We think he deserves a bit of credit for that. 

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

The movie dad: Big Chris might be a violent thug, but he's keen to bring his son up in the right way. That means no swearing, no blaspheming, and no getting his throat cut by rival gangsters. Chris is also fiercely protective, as Alan Ford's narrative so expertly illustrates. "Heaven protect anybody who touches that boy," he says, ominously. 

Juno (2007)

The movie dad: Mac Maguff, who reacts to the news of his daughter’s teenage pregnancy with admirable restraint, before proving himself a rock upon which she can depend on throughout thick and thin. His response to her decision to put the baby up for adoption is also expertly handled. "Someday you’ll be back here honey," he says comfortingly, "on your terms."

Batman Begins (2005)

The movie dad: This is a joint award to both Thomas Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. The former is Bruce's actual father, the man who taught the young lad right from wrong, while the latter fills the role of father figure after Thomas meets an untimely death. Both can take credit for the various qualities that make Batman such a worthy hero. 

The Mist (2007)

The movie dad: David Drayton is so desperate to ensure his son doesn’t suffer a painful death at the hands of the hideous, otherworldly creatures that populate The Mist, that he makes the heartbreaking decision to kill him with one of his remaining bullets, and face the beasties himself. Things don’t quite work out as planned, but his heart was in the right place. 

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

The movie dad: Not only a great movie dad, but a great movie son and brother to boot, George is forever putting his own happiness second to that of his immediate family. Alright, so he has a bit of a wobble halfway through, but even when’s he’s thinking of ending it all, his reasoning is that he’ll be worth more to his kids dead than alive.

Armageddon (1998)

The movie dad: Harry Stamper is a bit of a tough guy when it comes to his daughter’s boyfriend, but when the two of them end up on an outer-space mission to save the Earth, he mellows out. Things come full circle when he eventually sacrifices himself, sending the younger man home to look after his daughter.

The Godfather (1971)

The movie dad: A man of questionable morals in the workplace, Vito Corleone takes a different approach when it comes to his family. Indeed, he never wanted a life of crime for his son Michael, as proven by the tears he sheds at the knowledge he has killed on behalf of the business. At least he dies long before Michael really goes over to the dark side. 

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

The movie dad: Henry Jones Senior, who forms a wonderfully comedic double act with his son, Indy. While the two seemingly spend most of the film at loggerheads, their mutual affection is obvious, particularly when the older man thinks his son has gone plunging off the side of a cliff.

The Road (2009)

The movie dad: Known only as "Man", Viggo Mortensen's grizzled protagonist has only one thing left to live for in Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic nightmare: his son. While the boy's mother has long since given up hope, his father refuses to, convinced that somebody somewhere can help his boy survive.

American Pie (1998-2012)

The movie dad: Noah Levenstein, dispenser of inappropriate life advice extraordinaire. However, for all his unfortunate anecdotes, he’s willing to walk through hell and high water for his son, Jim. Not many dads would take their son to A&E to get their johnson unglued from their hand without at least one snide remark.


Movie dads who became great father figures