Bonding With Hollywood Dads: 5 Movie Fathers to Love and Five to Completely Loathe
Ah, it's that time of year again. Summer is almost in full swing and school is almost over. Children will be playing in their backyards. Barbeques will be happening on a regular basis, which will allow your father to do what he does best: grilling. Of course, the month of June allowed children to celebrate their fathers in all their glory.
With Father's Day arriving on June 19th, it's time to reflect on what it means to be a father through featuring some big screen fathers who demonstrated best and worst traits of fatherhood. Here is a list of five onscreen fathers who exuded the best intentions and five who weren't meant to be dads. There will also be some recommendations of movie fathers who missed the cut. Read on to see what movie father resonates with you the best or the worst.
Father Knows Best (Some of the Time)
Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams (1989)- Build it and he will come. That was all that Ray Kinsella needed to build a Baseball diamond in his corn field. A fantasy that allowed Ray to pursue his passion and connect with the ghost of his estranged father. The ending allowed father and son to finally have that belated game of catch that they never got to have when he was alive. It was a touching moment that tugged at the heartstrings of both sons and fathes alike. It even attempted some to pick up a glove and make a new memory. Watch this film if you feel the sudden urge to play a game of catch with your father.
Also see Robert Redford in The Natural
Sean Connery as Jesse in Family Business (1989)- Connery portrayed experienced thief Jesse as an older man who refused to grow up. He was a child who loved stealing things so much that he accidentally persuaded his grandson (Matthew Broderick) to go into the family business. In an effort to protect his son, reformed thief Vito (Dustin Hoffman) went along to make sure his father didn't push his son right into a long jail sentence. Jesse got away with the loot while his son and grandson were left in different kinds of trouble. Jesse struggled with doing the responsible thing and the thrill of the score. Luckily, the dilemma didn't force him to make a regrettable decision that he couldn't take back. Sometime its best to look out for others instead of the easy way out.
Also see Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Harrison Ford as Henry Turner in Regarding Henry (1991)- Ford started the film off as a workaholic lawyer who took his family for granted. He focused on becoming a bigger success at his law firm and regarded his wife and daughter like they were status symbols for his climb up the corporate ladder. What he didn't take into account was how getting shot would change his life. Henry entered a convenience store with an arrogant swagger and left a changed man. He woke up from a deep coma a new man who couldn't remember basic motor functions or his family. Ford turned Henry from an arrogant snob to an innocent boy looking to start his life over. A clean slate that taught Henry how to love himself, his wife and daughter once again. The movie's lesson was that sometimes accidents happen for the better and led to a life that was better than the one you had before.
Also see Scott Glenn in Secretariat
Henry Fonda as Henry Stamper in Sometimes a Great Notion (1971)- Fonda portrayed Henry Stamper as a hard working logger who was so fiercely independent that he only relied on his family to get things done when he couldn't go work with them. He didn't let countless logging injuries get him down or allow his children and nephew to slack off. Henry was often up before them to wake them at the crack of dawn. His fighting spirit earned him a reputation as a troublemaker in town, especially when the Stampers worked against the mostly striking town. Sadly, Henry's fierce work ethic ended up costing him his life, but his legacy lived on in his children who pushed on without him. Henry was the type of father who taught his children the value of hardwork can make anything right, even when loved ones disappoint you.
Also see Paul Newman in Harry and Son and Nobody's Fool
Robert De Niro as Lorenzo Anello in A Bronx Tale(1993)- De Niro portrayed a blue collar father who struggled with providing for his son when he started hanging out with a local mobster that could get him into trouble. De Niro made his onscreen father a polar opposite from the mobster who's life was filled with flashy clothes and violent encounters. He fought hard to teach his son the meaning of living an honest life that could only be lived through hard work. In the end, all his son needed to know was that his father would be there for him no matter what to persuade him from going into a life of crime. Ultimately, John and Paul were right. Love was all anyone ever needed.
Also see Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird
John Mahoney as James Court in Say Anything(1989)- Mahoney played a conservative father who wanted his daughter (Ione Skye) to succeed in everything, except falling in love with someone beneath her. He did everything he could to persuade her to ditch Lloyd (John Cusack). What he didn't take into account was that his own criminal behavior would cause him to lose his daughter's love and respect for good. Always look at the big picture and of course what's right in front of you before persuading someone for the "greater good."
Also see Burt Lancaster in Sweet Smell of Success
Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham in American Beauty(1999)- Spacey won his second Oscar in a film that allowed him to attack a midlife crisis in full swing. He quit his job and bought a muscle car. He also embarked on pursuing his daughter's best friend in an encounter that was simply creepy. Once a dad hooks up with a teenager, listening to fatherly advice goes right out the window forever, especially if criminal charges are involved.
Also see Gerard Depardieu in My Father the Hero
Mickey Rourke as Randy "The Ram" Robinson in The Wrestler (2008)- Rourke echoed his real life career comeback by playing a man down on his luck in his career and his life. He made an effort to change his life through starting a new romance with stripper Marisa Tomei and reviving his relationship with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood). Unfortunately, he gave into his old impulses and blew off spending time with her for a night of bad behavior that caused her to write him off for good.
Also see John Voight in The Champ
David Carradine as Bill in Kill Bill: Vol 2 (2004)- Carradine portrayed Bill as a loving father to his little girl who doted on her constantly. He gave her everything she wanted, except her mother (Uma Thurman) who he put in a deep coma after shooting her in the head. When she woke up, revenge was the only thing on her mind and Bill had to be on the receiving end of it. No happy united family reunion for long. It was shortlived at best, until the final confrontation that only one was meant to survive.
Also see Jean Reno in The Professional
Bill Paxton as Dad Meiks in Frailty (2002)- Paxton portrayed Papa Meiks as a man who bordered on the edge of stern responsibility and insanity. He led his family on a dangerous journey that involved a series of brutal murders meant to cleanse America of its demons. Instead, his plan inflicted enough trauma to scar his children for life. The therapy bills alone would be meant to choke a horse. The disturbing memories are enough to send someone to the rubber room for life.
Also see Kevin Costner in A Perfect World
In the end, Hollywood doesn't always accurately portray what it takes to be a father. Sometimes a person's dreams are temporarily or permanently shelved in order to protect their child financially. A father is usually someone required to be the bad guy when it comes to time hand down a punishment when their son or daughter does something bad. Of course, not all fathers are the breadwinners. Some dads are the ones who spend the most time with their children and educating them on the fact that family isn't always successfully defined by conventional standards. As long as the love is there, it doesn't matter if your father works for a living or stays home. If he's there in any capacity, that should be enough to make any relationship father/child relationship work onscreen and off.