The Best and Worst Movie Dads

Any fool can make a baby, but it takes a real man to raise his children on the big screen.

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Columbia | Universal Pictures | New Line

Some movie dads make us feel warm and fuzzy while others seem like they probably shouldn't have had children in the first place. Let's take a look at which movie dads get the whole child-raising thing right, and which ones could stand to make it to a few more parent-teacher conferences.

The Best

Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Universal Pictures

Played By: Gregory Peck
Year: 1962
Key Quote: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

Atticus Finch is the gold standard for integrity in both movies and literature. He knew right from wrong, was smart enough to explain the difference to his children, and courageous enough to do the right thing and set a good example.

Jim's Dad in American Pie

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Universal Pictures

Played By: Eugene Levy
Year: 1999
Key Quote: "I never did it with baked goods, but you know your uncle Mort, he pets the one-eyed snake 5-6 times a day."

Of the many teen movie dads who have graced the big screen, only Jim's dad in American Pie was brave enough to talk openly and understandingly with his son after catching him mid-coitus with an apple pie.

Juno's Dad in Juno

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Fox Searchlight

Played By: J.K. Simmons
Year: 2007
Key Quote: "Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with."

As Mac MacGuff in Juno, J.K. Simmons dealt with his daughter's teenage pregnancy with the kind of grace we all hope we'll show in similarly tough situations. He was funny, caring, understanding, and filled with good advice.

Dill Penderghast in Easy A

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Screen Gems

Played By: Stanley Tucci
Year: 2010
Key Quote: "I'd take a bullet for you, you know that. Right between the eyes. I would slit my throat rather than say something to someone that you didn't want me to say!"

Stanley Tucci is a classic "That Guy," who's played all kinds of roles, but not many dads. Still, in Easy A he found just the right mixture of concern and good humor to not just be a cool dad, but a good one too — one who would support his teenage daughter even as she extricated herself from a very messy situation of her own making.

Furious Styles in Boyz n the Hood

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Columbia

Played By: Laurence Fishburne
Year: 1991
Key Quote: "Any fool with a d--- can make a baby, but only a real man can raise his children."

Laurence Fishburne emanates fatherly wisdom in Boyz n the Hood as he tries his best to teach his son, Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.), to use his head and make thoughtful decisions. He sees the bigger picture and cares deeply about the place where he lives.

Bryan Mills in Taken

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Fox

Played By: Liam Neeson
Year: 2008
Key Quote: "If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

In Taken, Liam Neeson created a character so strong he's essentially still playing the same guy in movies like Run All Night and A Walk Among the Tombstones. Every dad secretly believes he could become the ultimate badass if that's what it would take to keep his children safe, and this movie taps directly into that belief. That's why it's so satisfying to watch Liam kill every single one of those jerks who dared to mess with his family.

The Worst

Norman Osborn in Spider-Man

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Sony

Played By: Willem Dafoe
Year: 2002
Key Quote: "You're weak. You were always weak and you will always be weak until you take control!"

Dads can put a lot of pressure on their kids. They want them to succeed, to make smart decisions, to make a difference in the world, and to KILL SPIDER-MAN! As Norman Osborn, Willem Dafoe launched a one-man assault on James Franco's psychological health in the Spider-Man movies. Even death couldn't stop him from badgering his son about killing Peter Parker.

Royal Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Buena Vista

Played By: Gene Hackman
Year: 2001
Key Quote: "Look, I know I'm going to be the bad guy on this one, but I just want to say the last six days have been the best six days of probably my whole life."

Every one of the Tenenbaum children has been irreversibly damaged in some way by family patriarch Royal in The Royal Tenenbaums. The lying cheating schemer is persona non grata with the entire family at the beginning of the movie, so he pretends to have a terminal illness just so he can see them all again. The whole thing gets pretty complicated as the reunion forces everyone to confront their psychological baggage, and even Royal finds some redemption. But he doesn't get a pass for ruining his kids' lives for so many years.

Clark Griswold in National Lampoon's Vacation

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Warner Bros.

Played By: Chevy Chase
Year: 1983
Key Quote: "This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest. It's a quest for fun. You're gonna have fun, and I'm gonna have fun. We're all gonna have so much f---ing fun we're gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles."

Chevy Chase played the obsessed dad version of Captain Ahab in Vacation — chasing down the white whale of family fun for everyone as he forces everyone into a station wagon for a cross-country road trip none of them want to take. As things go from bad to worse, he cracks badly and makes his family accomplices in his scheme to have fun at Walley World at any cost.

Rev. Shaw Moore in Footloose

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
Paramount

Played By: John Lithgow
Year: 1984
Key Quote: "If our Lord wasn't testing us, how would you account for the proliferation, these days, of this obscene rock and roll music, with its gospel of easy sexuality and relaxed morality?"

In 1984, if you thought your parents were stodgy and oppressive, you were given the perfect analogy for your tragic life in Footloose. John Lithgow plays anti-fun dad Reverend Shaw Moore, and he absolutely will not tolerate that darned rock and roll music! And certainly not any dancing!

Dr. Evil in Austin Powers

The Best and Worst Movie Dads
New Line Cinema

Played By: Mike Myers
Year: 1997
Key Quote: "Kill the little bastard. See if I care."

The first Austin Powers movie is still one of the funniest things Mike Myers has ever done, playing not one but two iconic '90s characters in the same film. As Dr. Evil he wasn't just trying to rule the world, he was also trying to figure out how to be a dad to his very modern son, Scott, played by scene-stealer Seth Green. It turns out he's terrible at being a dad and insults and belittles his son as often as possible.

I write about movies for Zimbio.com, which means I spend way too much time thinking about the geekiest possible ways to approach the cineplex. I'm also hopelessly addicted to audio books. Follow me: Google
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