Retrospective: 10 Greatest Movie Dads | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Retrospective: 10 Greatest Movie Dads

Tomorrow is Father's Day and to honour for the upcoming celebration, here is my personal picks for "10 Greatest Movie Dads":

10. John McClane, DIE HARD 4.0 (2007) and A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013)

When comes to parenting, John McClane (Bruce Willis) wasn't really much of an ideal father since he spent more time committing to his job fighting against the terrorists and saved the day. In the first three DIE HARD movies, we didn't get to see him bonding with his two kids, Jack and Lucy. But in DIE HARD 4.0 (also known as LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD in the US), we finally get to see the good old John saved the day and his grown-up daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) from a group of high-tech terrorists, led by former government-security expert Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). And of course, his estranged son Jack (Jai Courtney) in the awful fifth instalment, A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013).

9. Damon Macready a.k.a. Big Daddy, KICK-ASS (2010)

Damon Macready was hardly a typical dad... well, not at least in the traditional sense. In fact, he's more of a cool and unique dad who had his ways with his beloved daughter, Mindy (Chloe Grace Moretz). Instead of the usual father-and-daughter activity, Damon, whose alter-ego was a rubber-suited vigilante superhero known as "Big Daddy", spent time grooming Mindy with weaponry skill -- all in an effort to make her into an efficient, masked crime fighter known as "Hit-Girl". 

Classic moment: Damon didn't hesitate shooting his daughter to test a bulletproof vest. It was totally inappropriate, but that's how they built their trust together as a winning father-and-daughter team.

8. John Quincy Archibald, JOHN Q (2002)

It's really heartbreaking to see a decent and hardworking father like John Quincy Archibald (Denzel Washington) couldn't do much of a thing when his 9-year-old son Michael (newcomer Daniel E. Smith) collapsed during a baseball game due to his heart problem. First, he couldn't afford to come up a hefty US$250,000 for heart transplant and his insurance failed to cover it whatsoever. Then, he faced the ugly reality when the cruel hospital administrator Rebecca Payne (Anne Heche) forced John to cough up sufficient amount of money or the hospital had to let he and his wife Denise (Kimberly Elise) took their child home. John's solution? He became so desperate for saving his son at all cost until he's willing to break the law by holding the people in the hospital as hostages.

7. Ted Kramer, KRAMER VS. KRAMER (1979)

Ted Kramer (played brilliantly by Dustin Hoffman, who won Best Actor Oscar here) was a very busy man working as an art director in an ad agency. Because of his tight schedule, he hardly spent time with his young son Billy (Justin Henry). And then something happened: Ted's wife, Joanna (Meryl Streep in her Oscar-winning performance) ended up leaving her husband. So, you could imagine how frustrating Ted had to juggle double duty as a single father looking after his son and working such high-pressure job at the same time. Nevertheless, he got fired after committing several mistakes at work and even lost a major account. Losing a job was already hard enough for him, but his situation got even worse when Joanna returned and determined to fight for the custody of Billy since she's currently working a lucrative job. However, Ted refused to give up easily and tried his best to look for new job at all cost to win back the custody.

6. Daniel Hillard, MRS. DOUBTFIRE (1993)

Once upon a time, Robin Williams used to be one of the funniest comedians in Hollywood during the late '80s and the '90s. Among the best performance in his career was MRS. DOUBTFIRE, at which he played Daniel Hillard, an eccentric actor specialized in dubbing voices for cartoon characters. However, his lack of discipline and egoistic behaviour often prevented him to hold a job for a long period. Even his wife Miranda (Sally Field) had enough of him and filed for divorce. Not only that, Miranda took custody of their children and only allowed him to visit them once a week. Daniel wasn't pleased at all, and so he went as far as seeking his makeup artist brother Frank (Harvey Fierstein) to help him disguised as a Scottish nanny named Mrs. Doubtfire. Now that's what I called a truly committed dad who's willing to go all out to spend more time with his children. And by the way, the Oscar-winning makeup effect that turned Robin Williams into a woman really convinced me.

5. Homer Simpson, THE SIMPSONS MOVIE (2007)

Okay, so Homer Simpson (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) wasn't exactly an ideal role model of a perfect father. Since he made his TV's first season debut in 1989, he's well known for his clumsy behaviour, poor judgement, binge drinking (Duff beer) and excessive eating disorder. I could go on and on with more of his bad habits, but for all the flaws that he has done more damage than good, he remained an earnest person who actually cares a lot for his family. That was proven in this big screen version of THE SIMPSONS MOVIE back in 2007, at which he saved the entire community from the scheming head of the EPA, Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks) who planned to bomb the polluted Springfield town to smithereens.

4. John Matrix, COMMANDO (1985)

Arnold Schwarzenegger may have been known for his "one-man army" character from most of his hard-hitting action movies during the '80s and the '90s, but he did show his gentle side as a loving father in COMMANDO (1985). Here, he played retired Special Forces colonel named John Matrix, whom we first see him spending quality time with his young daughter (Alyssa Milano). Both of them lived an idyllic life in the mountains, until one day a tyranny South American general Arius (Dan Hedaya) and his right-hand man, Bennett (Vernon Wells) kidnapped his daughter. Needless to say, John went rogue and single-handedly killed his enemies and rescued the daughter towards the finale. And of course, cracking plenty of memorable one-liners along the way. No doubt a cool and macho dad.

3. Bryan Mills, TAKEN (2008)

Forget about the lame sequel of TAKEN 2 (2012). The first movie in 2008 remained the real deal. As a retired ex-CIA agent, Bryan Mills (played with great efficiency by Liam Neeson) just wanted to spend quality time with his teenaged daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). But things went wrong when Kim ended up being kidnapped, and daddy Mills was pretty pissed off. He had no choice but to use all his special set of skills he has acquired all these years to defeat his enemies and saved his daughter at all cost. Here, I particularly loved his classic dialogue when he meant business against those who kidnapped his daughter:

"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. 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".

2. Darth Vader, STAR WARS movies (1977-1983)

We all knew that Darth Vader (played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones in the original STAR WARS trilogy (STAR WARS, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI) was a classic evil character who killed his former Jedi master, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and cuts off Luke Skywalker's (Mark Hamill) right hand before he revealed his classic line, "No, I am your father" to him. But In RETURN OF THE JEDI, Vader had somehow fulfilled his duty as a father who ended up throwing his master, Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) down into the Death Star's reactor shaft when he couldn't stand watching his son being tortured with such agony. So even Vader was deep into the dark side, at least he managed to come to his senses when it mattered the most.

1. Chris Gardner, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (2006)

Will Smith delivered one of his greatest performances here in his Oscar-nominated role as a struggling father Chris Gardner, who tried all his best to make ends meet for supporting both himself and his young son Christopher (played by Smith's real-life son, Jaden). You've got to admire his sheer persistence for working his heart out to sell off all of his remaining portable bone-density scanners, while juggling his time with the highly competitive six-month training program to become a stockbroker at the Dean Witter Reynolds. And with all the overflowing stress he has to endure (particularly in the financial term), Gardner still showed his true affection to his son as a caring father who believed that everything would be back to normal.

Happy Father's Day!

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