The Very Best Fathers in Film

Real Style on 06.16.11
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Image Credit: Hulton Archives/Getty Images

In honor of Father's Day this Sunday, I thought I'd pay tribute to the very best (and the very worst) movie dads of all time. After all, moms shouldn't be the only ones to get the shout-outs.  We'll start with the list of our favorites. Whether they're great dads fumbling through parenthood or questionable pops that still love their kids unconditionally, I think these famous fathers come out on top.

Spoiler Alert: There are a few plot points given away here. If you haven't seen one of the movies and want to, skip to the next entry.

Clark Griswold (National Lampoon Vacation Series)

Chevy Chase

Image Credit: Michael Grecco/Getty Images

Griswold is played by the incomparable Chevy Chase, who brings sensitivity, charm, and lovability to the role of a father just trying to provide nice vacations for his family. The ultimate in family vacation comedies, these films will have you laughing out loud, while cheering for the down-on-his-luck Griswold. Dynamite Dad Distinction: After a grueling cross-country road trip, the family arrives at Wally World only to find it closed. After some cajoling with a BB gun and a few threats, Griswold convinces the park owner to let his family enjoy a day at the park. Sounds like an A+ dad to us.

Noah Levenstein (American Pie Series)

Eugene Levy

Image Credit: Randy Tepper 1999 Universal Studios

Gene Levy portrays Jim's dad with humor, wisdom, and complete understanding of the trials and tribulations of growing up as a teenage boy. He offers his son sage advice and support at every turn, even when Jim asks (or begs) him not to. Dynamite Dad Distinction: After finding Jim in a precarious position with an apple pie, Levenstein gives his son a man-to-man talk about sexuality and growing up, but in a hilarious and not-suitable-for-this-blog type of way.

Daniel (Love Actually)

Liam Neeson

Image Credit: Munawar Hosain/Getty Images

Liam Neeson gives a touching and heart-breaking performance as Daniel, a man who has just lost his wife to cancer and continues to raise his stepson, Sam. As the two forge ahead and find common ground, Daniel teaches Sam to hold on to love when you find it, because you just never know when it will disappear. Dynamite Dad Distinction: When Sam's "first true love" Joanna heads to the airport to board  a plane to move to the U.S., Daniel drives him there so he can say his proper goodbyes.

George (or Stanley) Banks (Father of the Bride)

Steve Martin

Image Credit: Astrid Stawriaz/Getty Images

Depending on which version you favor, Spencer Tracy plays the loving father Stanley Banks in the 1950 version; Steve Martin takes over the role of George Banks in the 1991 release. In both, Banks is a worrisome father who only wants the best for his little girl. When she comes home to tell him she's getting married, he goes on a terror trying to stop the wedding, only to find out that the groom is actually a good guy and his daughter may just know what she's doing. Dynamite Dad Distinction: In the newest version, Annie and her fiancé Brian have an argument over a blender. George, seeing how unhappy his daughter is, goes out for a beer with Brian to smooth things over for the couple.

George Bailey (It's a Wonderful Life)

Jimmy Stewart

Image Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Jimmy Stewart gives an Oscar-nominated performance as George Bailey, a man so selfless it almost drives him to suicide. He gave up all of his hopes and dreams to start a life with his wife and provide a good home for his children. When his guardian angel steps in and shows him what would have become of his friends, family, and neighbors if he had never been born, Bailey finds a renewed sense of purpose and rushes home to see his family. Dynamite Dad Distinction: After he returns home, Bailey and his daughter have a touching moment by the Christmas tree when a bell rings, signifying that his guardian angel received his wings.

Other Fabulous Fathers We Love:


Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles)
Jack Butler (Mr. Mom)
John Quincy Archibald (John Q)
Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happyness)
Jack Byrnes (The Fockers Trilogy)
Sonny Koufax (Big Daddy)
Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)
Vito Corleone (The Godfather)
Daniel Hillard (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Walter and Papa Elf (Elf)
Thomas Wayne (Batman Series)
Jor-El and Pa Kent (Superman)
Marlin (Finding Nemo)
The Old Man (A Christmas Story)
Henry Jones Sr. (Indiana Jones Series)

Did we miss any you would put on your list? Let us know your picks in the comments below. And be sure to check back tomorrow for my picks of the worst dads in movies.

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