16 Movie Dads Who Showed Us What It Means to Be a Great Father (PHOTOS)

16 Movie Dads Who Showed Us What It Means to Be a Great Father (PHOTOS)
Dads are often unfairly portrayed in movies as the grunting, lazy couch potato, or else as the dimwit guy who just doesn't understand anything about his children.

Thankfully, there are more than a few movies out there where dads -- such as Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness -- are not relegated to a supporting role. Instead, they are the heroes of the story. Click through for 16 times dads were celebrated on the big screen.


Image via Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc

  • Matt King in 'The Descendants' (2011)


    Image via Fox Searchlight Pictures

    In the Oscar-nominated film The Descendants, typical gender stereotypes are reversed. George Clooney's wife in the movie is the cheater who was planning on leaving her family before she falls into a coma after a boating accident, while Clooney's character, Matt, is the glue that holds him and his two daughters together during the movie's dramatic turn of events.

  • Mrs. Doubtfire in 'Mrs. Doubtfire' (1993)


    Image via Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

    While Robin Williams' character isn't the best husband in Mrs. Doubtfire, he wins the Movie Father of the Year award by demonstrating that he will do anything, even dress up and assume the identity of a British female nanny, in order to spend time with his children.

  • Jason "Furious" Styles in 'Boyz n the Hood' (1991)


    Image via Columbia Pictures Corporation

    In a rough neighborhood where there aren't many male role models around, Laurence Fishburne's character knows the difference between fathering a child and being a dad: "Any fool with a dick can make a baby," he tells his son in one scene. "But only a real man can raise his children."

  • Sam Baldwin in 'Sleepless in Seattle' (1993)


    Image via TriStar Pictures

    While his son Jonah wants to find his dad a new wife, Tom Hanks' widowed character just wants to focus on taking care of his son in Sleepless in Seattle.

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  • Bryan Mills in 'Taken' (2008)


    Image via Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

    Don't mess with Liam Neeson's family is the message of Taken. When his daughter is kidnapped while on vacation in France, the action star's badass dad character will stop at nothing to rescue her.

  • George Banks in 'Father of the Bride' (1991)


    Image via Touchstone Pictures

    As the title suggests, Father of the Bride is all about a dad, played by Steve Martin, coming to terms with the fact that his 22-year-old baby is grown up and getting married to a man she's only known for three months. In the end, he accepts the relationship and his daughter's wishes, even counseling his future son-in-law when a crisis occurs before the wedding.

  • Jack Dwyer in 'No Escape' (2015)


    Image via The Weinstein Company

    In this 2015 thriller, Owen Wilson's character, Jack Dwyer, moves his wife and two daughters to a volatile Southeast Asian country for his new job. When war breaks out, he proves he will do anything to keep his daughters safe and comfort them as they flee the country for safer lands.

  • Mac MacGuff in 'Juno' (2007)


    Image via Fox Searchlight

    Finding out your teenager daughter is pregnant is not comforting news for any dad, but, in Juno, J.K. Simmons' character, Mac MacGuff, handles it with grace and delivers helpful words of advice to his daughter like, "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." Good advice!

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  • Howard Langston in 'Jingle All the Way' (1996)


    Image via Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

    After missing his son's karate graduation, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character, Howard Langston, decides he will make it up to his boy by getting him the hottest, hard-to-find toy in Jingle All the Way. Things don't go as planned in this Christmas comedy caper, but the movie's plot about a man who wants to make his son happy is a touching one.

  • Mason Evans Sr. in 'Boyhood' (2014)


    Image via IFC Films

    Although it's titled Boyhood, this 2014 Richard Linklater film could just as equally be called "Fatherhood." At first glance, Ethan Hawke's character, Mason Evans Sr., seems like he would be a deadbeat dad, especially considering he's a musician who became a father by accident in his twenties. But in the film, he's depicted as a thoughtful dad, who can discuss pregnancy with his teenage daughter by name-dropping Bristol Palin and Facebook in a cool, low-key way.

  • Jim Baker in 'Sixteen Candles' (1984)


    Image via Universal Pictures

    Molly Ringwald's father Jim Baker (played by Paul Dooley) in Sixteen Candles may not be rich or cool like some other dads, but he always has a shoulder for her to cry on when she needs him.

  • Chris Gardner in 'The Pursuit of Happyness' (2006)


    Image via Columbia Pictures Corporation

    Based on a true story, Will Smith (playing opposite his real-life son Jaden Smith) stars in The Pursuit of Happyness as a down-on-his-luck father who lacks a home for his son to live in but has enough love and optimism to turn their lives around.

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  • Jack Butler in 'Mr. Mom' (1983)


    Image via Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

    There weren't many stay-at-home dads in the 1980s, but Michael Keaton's character, Jack Butler, takes on the challenge in Mr. Mom, a comedy about a father who hits his stride as his family's primary caretaker.

  • Ted Kramer in 'Kramer vs Kramer' (1979)


    Image via Columbia Pictures

    After his wife leaves him and their son, Dustin Hoffman's workaholic character, Ted Kramer, bonds with his son in this Oscar-winning film, only to have fight for custody when she returns over a year later.

  • John Quincy Archibald in 'John Q' (2002)


    Image via New Line Cinema

    Talk about a dad who will do anything for his child! In the fast-paced movie John Q, Denzel Washington plays a father, John Quincy Archibald, who holds up a hospital and forces them to operate on his son after he learns his son's heart transplant isn't covered by their HMO.

  • Atticus Finch in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (1962)


    Image via Universal Pictures

    In To Kill A Mockingbird, Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch, a lawyer and single dad who gives his kids the ultimate role model to look up to in his fight for equality in the Deep South during the 1930s.

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