UTG LIST: Our 10 Favorite Fathers In Film

Father Feature

As we do each June when this holiday comes around, we’re all spending time today showing love and appreciation to our own father figures — the men that helped raise us to become the very people we’re proud to say we are today. Whether your father was/is your best friend, your protector, your mentor, your inspiration, your hero, or some combination of any and all of these things and then some, he should be made aware each and every day possible that he is loved and appreciated. Today just happens to be one particular day out of 365 others each year designated for you to truly drive the point home, tell him you love him, and remind him that you’ve never forgotten all he’s done and that you’re forever grateful that you’re lucky enough to call such an admiral man “Dad” (or whichever term of endearment you’ve taken to calling yours since the first time you spoke it).

So, us being the cinephiles that we are, to celebrate this holiday and our much-deserved paternal heroes, we’ve compiled a list, in no particular order, consisting of our 10 absolute favorite fathers in film — with some honorable mentions as well. You can enjoy our personal anecdotes and some clips from the films we’ve chosen after the jump. We’d love to know who your favorite movie dads are as well so strike up a conversation in our comments section. Here’s to dads!


Daniel Hillard – Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Daniel Hillard is the ultimate Dad. I have undoubtedly seen Mrs. Doubtfire more times than any movie, which is saying a lot because I don’t watch movies all that often. Daniel Hillard exemplifies the best Dad ever, with his unconditional love for his kids, energy, charm, charisma, and willingness to do whatever it takes to have them in his life. Growing up, I identified with his unique brand of parenting and selflessness because he reminded me of my Dad and my Uncle Pat. Both were excellent, involved dads, with the fun, goofy, youthful spirit it takes to parent young children. Not to mention, who doesn’t enjoy Robin Williams?! Daniel Hillard for Dad Of The Century, boom! – Kellie Gannon, Head of Photography


“The Man” – The Road (2009)

2009′s The Road (based on the book of the same name by Cormac McCarthy) is a bleak and terrifying, yet absolutely beautiful, post-apocalyptic story of a man and his son struggling to survive as they make their way to the coast in hopes of a warmer, more comfortable climate. The father, played by Viggo Mortensen and simply referred to as “the Man,” cares about nothing more than protecting his son and preparing him for the worst as his own health quickly deteriorates and his inevitable death approaches. I have watched this film many times since its release and not a single viewing has gone by without my eyes welling up with tears. In my opinion, few performances have passed since 2009 even equal to that of either Mortensen or Kodi Smit-McPhee, “the Boy.” The realism and raw emotion in their performances make for one of the most touchingly beautiful connections in film history and the father in this story is everything one could possibly be in their terrible situation. Regardless of the fact that The Road touches on a much darker theme than some of the films in this collection, “the Man” is a father that loves his son wholeheartedly and it shows in every frame of this film. Below is a brief excerpt of a gorgeous monologue/voice-over from “the Man.” – Brian Lion, Front Page Editor


Mufasa – The Lion King (1994)

You’re young. Your only friends are a sarcastic fellow and his overweight straight sidekick. You have no successful interactions with women. You have hopes and dreams that are bigger than everyone else’s, but there doesn’t seem to be much you can do. How do you pick yourself up? Simba’s Dad materialized as a cloud and told that lion to get his shit together. He lived being a good leader and good follower, died doing the right thing, and came back as rain to tell his son that he had forgotten who he was and had dreams to accomplish. Mufasa had his place in the circle of life, and it was as a great Dad. – Dan Bogosian, Reviewer / News Contributor


Sam Dawson – I Am Sam (2001)

In 2001, the world was graced with one of Sean Penn’s most touchingly heartfelt and impressive performances of his career when he played developmentally disabled, Sam Dawson, in Jessie Nelson’s I Am Sam. I don’t know a single person that has watched this film and not teared up at least a little bit. While I Am Sam ultimately didn’t fare too well with critics, there’s no denying the impact that Penn’s role had on every viewer. Despite Sam’s challenges that come with having the mind of a 7-year-old, he does everything he possibly can to show his own 7-year-old daughter, Lucy, that he loves her and wants to be a great father for her. As they were abandoned by her homeless mother the day Lucy was born, through thick and thin, Sam lives by The Beatles’ code of “all you need is love” and shows it endlessly as he never gives up on doing any and everything he can to be there for his daughter. – Brian Lion, Front Page Editor


Guido Orefice – La vita è bella / Life Is Beautiful (1998)

First off, if you’ve never seen Life Is Beautiful, you’re goofin’ — seriously. Roberto Benigni’s “Best Actor” Academy Award is beyond warranted for his role as Guido Orefice. Guido is a young, charismatic Jew who falls in love with a woman during the drastic political climate change of Italy during the late 1930s and early 1940s. He and the woman end up married and have a son only to eventually be seized during WWII and sent to a concentration camp where Guido uses his wondrous imagination to shield and protect his son from the horrors of the reality there. Guido convinces his son, Joshua, that they are at the camp as contestants in a complicated game in which they earn points toward the grand prize, a tank. He cleverly makes up things on the fly to make light of the scarier scenarios and features at the camp. I can’t say too much more without spoiling some of the true beauty of this film but Guido Orefice is hands down one of our favorite movie Dads for the way he approaches an absolutely terrifying experience and does his best to make it fun for his son and to keep him at ease in a tragic environment that would otherwise be traumatizing and scary to a young boy. Guido’s inherent and incessant love for his son is in the forefront of any scene involving the two characters and nearly every one of those scenes will touch your heart and or make your eyes well up. – Brian Lion, Front Page Editor


Clark Griswold – National Lampoon’s Vacation Franchise

Though there are no rules concerning what the exact process is for creating the ideal movie dad, I would have to argue Hollywood hit the nail on the head when Clark Griswold debuted in National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise. Brought to life by Chevy Chase, Clark is a “Joe Everyman” with two teen children and a wife that by all accounts is far hotter than her other half. His one and only goal in this film series is to get away from hassles of everyday life and grow closer to a family that he constantly feels is drifting apart regardless of whether or not they feel the same. Hijinks ensue, of course, but at the end of the day his character has that innate sense of do-gooderness that makes it impossible to feel anything except love for his hilariously misguided attempts at bringing everyone closer together. You want him to be your dad as much as you’d never want to be related to anyone on screen, which in many ways is how a lot of us feel about various family members in our actual live, and recreating that human emotion on celluloid is only one of many reasons why this character has become an iconic movie dad. – James Shotwell, Founder


Jim’s Dad – American Pie Franchise

You never forget your first slice of American Pie, nor do you forget the on-screen dad who helped you understand the feelings that came with that special day. Playing opposite Jason Biggs and a cast of horny twenty-somethings, Eugene Levy became the dad everyone turned to about sex in the early years of the new millennium. Though it was clear the idea of his son growing up saddened him as a parent, the man, only credited of “Jim’s Dad,” made sure his son did the right thing even when he’d already made a dozen mistakes, and above all he listened when shit really hit the fan. He’s twice as understanding and caring as your stereotypical on screen dad, which somehow makes him more lovable instead of less believable, and even though the franchise quality has wavered with time, his love for his family has never come into question once. Jim is his world, and as you watch their relationship play out you want to be a part of their family. If that isn’t a successful on-screen dad, I don’t know what is. – James Shotwell, Founder


Marlin Whitmore – 50 First Dates (2004)

50 First Dates always winds up being more heartwarming than I remember it to be, and that’s all thanks to Marlin. His replication of everything from the day of Lucy’s accident — from newspapers to her shampoo bottle to his birthday cake — takes a lot of time, effort, and serious love for your daughter. Living a life of repetition for someone else (who is subject to that anyway) is incredibly selfless. Marlin’s turned his life over for his daughter, and is willing to fight anyone away who could mess that up for her. When he finally does agree to let Henry in, however, that’s when it’s clear how great of a father he is. Marlin learns to let someone else take over in his spot in order for Lucy’s future to unravel differently, giving up even more, his comfort, for her happiness. Marlin: the simultaneously selfless and selfish father who ditches the selfishness come the end. – Nina Corcoran, News Contributor


Jonathan Kent – The Superman Franchise

Jonathan Kent is Kal-El’s “Earth father” who found him once he landed on Earth. He and his wife, Martha, took Kal in, named him Clark Kent, and raised him as their own regardless of the obvious fact that he was more than likely some form of alien. Over the years, Jonathan teaches Clark about morals and values, ultimately being the impetus to Superman’s heroic character whom eventually aids in the betterment of humankind. As much as Clark needs no protection in a physical sense, as Jonathan becomes aware of what Clark is capable of, he protects him and his secret from the world the best he can because he knows what will happen otherwise. Jonathan Kent is an exemplary father figure and very much a hero in his own right. He stands in as Clark’s adoptive father and proudly raises him as his own with true love, and if he hadn’t, who knows how Superman would’ve turned out? – Brian Lion, Front Page Editor


Royal Tenenbaum – The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

While Royal may not be the epitome of a good father per se, he is certainly an interesting one with an unorthodox approach to rekindling his relationship with his children and his wife who’s on the verge of a relationship with a new man. He’s made mistakes in the past and his kids certainly don’t forget that but as he goes to extreme lengths in faking stomach cancer to try to win back his family’s affections even though his actual intentions may be questionable. Despite all the chaos that ensues likely due to Royal’s intrusion into the lives of his family that he was previously absent from, his getting involved may ultimately prove to be, at the very least, a much-needed closure for all involved. Despite his antics and dubious intentions, you just can’t help but enjoy the character that is Royal Tenenbaum in one of Wes Anderson’s best colorfully off-beat and sometimes depressing comedies. – Brian Lion, Front Page Editor


Honorable Mentions:

Henry Bennett – The Impossible (2012)
Dan Burns – Dan In Real Life (2007)
Goofy Goof – A Goofy Movie (1995)
Graham Hess – Signs (2002)
Paddy Conlon – Warrior (2011)

Here’s a short film to enjoy with a father worthy of praise as well.

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