Our favourite screen dads
This Father’s Day, we recount our top ten TV and movie dads
Mac MacGuff, Juno (2007)
What do you do when your 16-year-old tells you that you are about to be a grandfather? According to Mac MacGuff, you stand by her side just the same as before. MacGuff’s biggest strengths are understanding and humour, as he guides his daughter Juno through her pregnancy, dating woes and other teenage trials and tribulations.
Best advice: “Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.”
George Banks, Father of the Bride (1991)
It’s never easy for fathers to let go of their little girls, especially when the time comes to hand them over to another man. And when they don’t agree with the exorbitant amount being spent on the wedding. But despite all the stress (and his unfounded suspicions regarding future son-in-law, Bryan), Banks finally softens and gives up on his plans to foil the wedding. He hands his daughter Annie over, and all’s well that end’s well.
Best advice: “Drive carefully. And don’t forget to fasten your condom.”
Don Draper, Mad Men
We don’t know why we’re drawn to Don Draper. He’s not the best father and definitely not the best husband – in fact, he’s the very worst. He’s distant from his kids and is unfaithful to his wife. But eventually, you see him crack when he takes his daughter Sally into confidence, opening up, even if it’s for a little bit. Perhaps there’s still some hope for Draper to earn a few dad points?
Best advice: “I hate to break it to you but there’s no big lie. There’s no system. The universe is indifferent.”
Matt King, The Descendants (2011)
This drama exemplifies the importance of a father in keeping his family together. When his unfaithful wife is rendered permanently comatose, Matt King is faced with the responsibility of taking care of his 10- and 17-year-old daughters, Scottie and Alex. And it’s no mean feat, given Alex’s strained relationship with her mother and Scottie’s destructive behaviour towards others. King eventually manages to get his family through this difficult time – and they learn to be okay with it being just the three of them.
Best advice: “I don't want my daughters growing up entitled and spoiled. And I agree with my father – you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing.”
Chris Gardner, The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
A tearjerker that showed us what it meant to be family, this flick had us rooting for Chris Gardner all the way through. Based on a true story, the film followed Gardner’s struggles with homelessness, a failing marriage and a declining career, and how he manages to come through for his son in the end. After sleeping in subway stations and even going to jail, he leads by example and shows his son that perseverance can ultimately lead you to owning a multi-million dollar brokerage firm.
Best advice: “You got a dream . . .You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”
Sandy Cohen, The OC
If any dad is a perfect ten, Sandy Cohen is him. Honest and upstanding to a fault, he took in a felon as his own son, unfazed by what the snotty OC community had to say. And thus began the beginning of a beautiful bromance between him and his sons, Seth and Ryan. Striking the perfect balance between concerned parent and cool dad, Cohen always let his kids find their own way (with nudges in the right direction from time to time). And did we mention he smears bagels like a boss? This super dad does it all.
Best advice: “Never underestimate a parent’s ability to mortify his children.”
From poignant to hilarious to just plain weird, we round up the most memorable words of wisdom imparted by silver screen dads to their children. While they may not always strike a chord (more often than not, they cause giggles, embarrassment and confusion), these doting dads have their hearts in the right place.
Phil Dunphy, Modern Family
We’re often confused about whether Phil Dunphy is the parent or the child, but in the end, his hare-brained (but, well intended) ideas are the perfect antidote to Claire’s crazy Type A personality. He practices ‘peerenting’, a combination of being a peer and a parent (read; he’s clueless, but at least he tries). Dunphy is determined to be a cool dad – even learning all the dance moves to the High School Musical songs and being buddy-buddy with daughter Haley’s boyfriend, Dylan (or D-Money as he likes to call him).
Best advice: “If you love something, set it free. Unless it’s a tiger.”
Danny Tanner, Full House
We all grew up with the Tanner girls – living through their problems at school, their heartaches and their friendships, and learning from the sage advice of Danny Tanner along the way. A man with a dust buster that meant business, Tanner played the dual role of mother and father to his three girls, helped along by Joey and Jesse. He also put up with the girls’ annoying friend Kimmy Gibbler, which alone earns him props.
Best advice: “When children seem the least lovable, it means they need love the most.”
Peter Griffin, Family Guy
For a show named ‘Family Guy’, Peter Griffin definitely is not. At least, not the ideal family guy. Wildly inappropriate and bizarre, he gives his son Chris terrible life advice, ignores his daughter Meg (but tells her he’ll be her friend privately) and has a solid relationship only with their talking dog, Brian. Is it wrong that we still find the show incredibly LOL-worthy?
Best advice: “When I’m through with them, our kids will be so smart, they’ll be able to program their own VCRs without spilling piping hot gravy all over myself.”