Friday, June 17, 2011

Hop on Pop: 10 Unforgettable Film Dads.

I am not going to lie, Father’s Day snuck up on me this year. I know that it supposed to be an extra special day as it is my first one as a dad but Father’s Day was never something I took much stock in. As my parents divorced when I was really young, Father’s Day was treated as “just another day” in my household. Now that I am a father, I can appreciate the significance of the day though it will take a while before I truly get use to celebrating it. Keeping with the theme of fathers, here are 10 memorable cinematic dads who left their mark.

Pops – House Party
If you have ever been at the receiving end of “the belt”, and lord knows I have, then Pops will hold a special place in your heart. In many ways he is the poster boy for old-school parenting. When his son, Christopher a.k.a “Kid”, sneaks out the home to attend a friend’s house party, Pops is determine to evoke his brand of discipline by any means necessary. Not only is Pops responsible for one of the best comedic endings in movie history, but his actions come from a place of love and not abuse.

Matt Drayton – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Mr. Drayton represents the misguided expectations that often come with parenthood. While he wants the best for his daughter, he has problems shaking the image he has had all her life of what her perfect mate should be. Drayton shows that sometimes fathers have no choice but to adapt to the unexpected changes life often brings.

Earl Partridge – Magnolia
Truthfully, you could substitute any of the fathers from Magnolia in this spot. The film is one of the best examples of why being a good father is so important. Many of the main characters in the film are damaged, emotionally speaking, by the actions of their fathers. Earl Partridge best represents both the irresponsibleness and the remorse that many of the fathers, and the children, in the film struggle with.

Dr. Stephen Fleming – Damage
While I have only been in the father role for about six weeks now, there are a few basic rules to fatherhood that I am aware of:

1. Teach your kids love and respect for others
2. To quote Chris Rock “Try your best to kept your daughter off the (stripper) pole”
3. At no point is it cool to sleep with your son’s fiancée

Clearly Fleming missed the third point as his affair has repercussions that ripple through an entire family.

Bobby - South Central
One of the things that immediately hits you when you become a father is the fact that you are now held accountable for your every action. Children observe everything you do. In Bobby’s case, his son is falling prey to the same gangster life style that caused Bobby to wind up in prison for 10 years.

Lorenzo Anello’s – A Bronx Tale
The thing I like about Lorenzo is his determination to teach his son the importance of values. This proves increasing difficult when the fast money Mafia lifestyle is a tough temptation for his son to resist. Like any father, Lorenzo wants his child to have the best life possible yet is also realistic about the way the world works. To Lorenzo the lessons learned from an honest day’s work is far more valuable than anything the mafia can provide.

Bill Maplewoood – Happiness / Life During Wartime
As a convicted pedophile, Bill Maplewood will not be winning any father of the year awards. So why does he make this particular list? Simply for the fact that he is both an interesting, and chilling, character. In Happiness we see him as a loving father who has a disturbing sickness he cannot seem to control. Then in the sequel, Life During Wartime, we see him as a man who wants to get his family back. While Bill knows that his actions have hurt his family, getting their forgiveness, not to mention confirmation that his son will not turn out like him, is important to him. Are there actions that are not forgivable? Or does the old saying that “family trumps everything” hold true?

Furious Styles – Boyz N the Hood
First off, I have no idea how Furious Styles was left off the best character name list. Regardless, there is no way I can leave him off the unforgettable fathers list. Furious is similar to Lorenzo Anello in the sense that he is very aware of the dangers that lurk in the environment he lives in. When his son Tré comes to live with him, Furious quickly establishes what chores need to be done to teach Tré the importance of responsibility. While his teaching may seem trivial to most, it has a profound effect on Tré in the end.

Daniel Plainview – There Will Be Blood
Plainview’s story is probably the saddest of the bunch. He end up adopting the son, H.W., of one of his dead workers and ends up making him his business partner. Despite raising H.W. as if he was his own son, Plainview foolishly falls prey to a con artist posing as his half-brother, Henry. In his clouded judgment, Plainview takes H.W.’s attempts at protecting him as a sign of jealousy. His decision to send H.W. away ends up being Plainview’s biggest regret by the end of the film.

Tonny – Pusher II
Due in part to the birth of my own son, not to mention the diaper changes and lack of sleep, it took me six weeks to finish the wonderful film Pusher II. For those who have seen the film, Tonny may seem like an odd choice for this list as he only accepts his role as a father at the very end of the film. Yet after spending the entire film trying to please his own father, who refutes him at every turn, Tonny finally decides to get his act together and ensure that his son does not go down the same road he did.


  1. I so want to watch Pusher - Mads Mikkelsen is one of my favorite actors.

    You forgot Darth Vader from Star Wars.

  2. I loved the father-son relationship in There Will Be Blood. So complex and revealing and probably a major catalyst in Plainview's descent into madness. Great post CS!

  3. @Lim(ette) – Mads has only a small role in Pusher I, you need to watch Pusher II to get the full Mads Mikklesen treatment. I still need to get around to watching Pusher III

    Vader was considered but I figured he would be too obvious of a choice. He is truly the most iconic father in all of cinema

    @Castor – Yep I think that is what drove him mad in the end. Despite his wealth, he could not share it with the one person he actually cared about.

  4. De Niro in "A Bronx Tale"


    Fishburne in "Boyz-N-The Hood"

  5. I'm so glad to see Pops on the list. He was pure comedic gold in "House Party," and even I flinched at the very end when he took off his belt.

  6. My favourite is Furious Styles, glad you included him.

  7. @Duke - Fishburne all the way. He had the harder circumstances to deal with. The Mafia at least had respect for De Niro's character, yet the "young bucks" in the hood were too wild and unpredictable. They would not hesitate to kill Fishburne.

    @JBT - Pops is what makes the film for me. Kid n' Play are entertaining but Pops steals the film.

    @Squasher88 - There was no way I could leave Furious Styles off the list. Boyz N the Hood was a very important film of my youth.

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