Bad Movie Fathers

I haven’t written a post for a while with the holidays, work, and the fact Christmas being over gives me a bit of a writer’s block on what posts to write next. Of course, part of the reason why I did a few posts on mythology last January is because I couldn’t think of anything else. And I really can’t think up much for New Years either. Still, growing up we’ve all had to put up with parents as well as their constant demands on us such as clean our rooms. And yes, they do embarrass us a lot as well. Now as far as fathers go, Hollywood has a wide range of them from complete and incompetent idiots to patriarchs that embody the moral virtues of society. However, this post doesn’t really focus on the great dads like Atticus Finch, Mufasa, Gru, or George Bailey nor the silly dads like Clark Griswold or Homer Simpson. Nor does it pertain to a lot of absentee fathers since they’re not around a lot and/or may not know they have kids. After all, that’s still possible. Nevertheless, for those who’ve grown up with a father who’s spend your childhood embarrassing you over the holidays or makes you do certain things like go on hunting and fishing trips, remember that at least you haven’t had to deal with these movie dads I list here. And let’s just say, I’ve also included stepfathers as well since they basically have to live with the kiddies, too. So without further adieu, here are some of the worst movie dads you can be glad aren’t yours.

1. Captain Vidal

From: Pan’s Labyrinth
The Problem: If there’s any guy I’d nominate for the “Worst Dad Ever,” it would be him. Sure he’s only a stepfather, but I’m sure nobody in their right mind would want to have kids with him. Let’s just say that the best things about him are that he has a job he’s good at, is very personable and charismatic, is handsome, wants kids, and isn’t a pedophile. Yet, the list just ends there. Now Captain Vidal is probably one of the vilest characters I’ve ever seen on film. Vidal is a Fascist Captain in Spain who basically married to Ofelia’s mother, Carmen, just so she could provide him a son he wants so badly. And once the kid’s born, he’s basically the only person he basically cares about, well, in terms of survival, that is (after all, he has a legacy to preserve). From the moment we see Vidal, he comes off as an unpleasant man yet you might think he may have a softer side somewhere. Of course, he’s not too keen with Ofelia going on her fairy tale quests yet neither is her mother (then again, she might be afraid of him, too). Yet, this man shows his nastiness when a father and son poacher team is brought to him in the dead of night. Suspecting them rebels of the Franco regime, instead of searching their stuff (which would be sensible), Vidal just beats the son with a bottle and shoots them both in a mixture of boredom and pleasure. And while they’re found innocent later, Vidal just tells his men to be more careful next time. He also tortures a rebel with a horrible stutter later on, after cheerfully showing him his torture instruments and offering to let him go if he could count to three. He fails. Meanwhile it’s very clear that his wife is going through a particularly difficult pregnancy yet he shows no possible concern over her possible death in childbirth. Not only that, but when his wife’s doctor puts the stuttering torture victim out of his misery, Vidal shoots him in cold blood. This is the main reason why Carmen dies in childbirth. Oh, and when Ofelia tries to rescue her baby brother, Vidal basically shoots her dead. And for all his actions, he shows absolutely no remorse whatsoever. Forget the fantastical monsters, the scariest thing in this movie you’ll remember is this guy.
2. Rev. Harry Powell

From: The Night of the Hunter
The Problem: Runner-up in the nominations for “Most Evil Stepfather Award” is perhaps Robert Mitchum’s best known character (well, one of them) in one of the scariest suspense-horror thrillers in history. Sure Powell may be a man of God, but let’s not kid ourselves, deep down he’s as evil incarnate as the Devil himself. Like Vidal, he’s quite handsome and charming (as well as a great singing voice). Still, while Vidal marries a woman to give him a son, he marries women for their money so he could get his hands on the cash when he kills them (he tells God this in the beginning, by the way. Also, hates women and thinks he’s doing God’s work). Of course, when he gets out of prison (after a conversation with a bank robber about to be executed on double homicide charges), Powell wastes no time wooing the guy’s widow Willa Harper just because he thinks her children know where the stolen money was hidden (he’s right). Yet, while he could charm almost everyone in town, it’s apparent that John sees right through him and doesn’t trust Powell at all. Sure John may put his real dad on the pedestal who basically fucked up his childhood and made him distrust cops, but compared to Powell, Ben Harper is basically a saint (and being a bank robber who killed two people, that’s saying a lot). However, Willa marries Powell anyway who not only won’t have sex with her and basically brainwashes her, which really makes life hell for her and her two children. When Willa overhears her husband asking the children for the money, he slits her throat, puts her in a car, and dumps her in the river. Then, to get the kids to tell him where the money is, he threatens to cut off John’s fingers, one by one, in front of the very young Pearl. And when he discovers the money in Pearl’s doll (this by threatening their lives), well, John basically grabs Pearl and makes a run for it up the river. Yet, Powell just ruthlessly pursues them with these children basically lucking out when they reach for Rachel Cooper’s place. Let’s just say that Robert Mitchum singing, “Leaning on the Everlasting Light” is guaranteed to send chills up your spine. Beware of preachers with the knuckle tattoos of “LOVE” and “HATE” on their hands.
3. Noah Cross

From: Chinatown
The Problem: Finally, our first biological father on the list and played by none other than John Huston, one of the most legendary Hollywood film directors, father of Angelica and Danny, son of Walter, and grandfather of Jack who played Richard Harrow from Boardwalk Empire. I mean this guy has a lot of movies to his name as well as Hollywood relations. Still, in Huston’s final performance, he perhaps plays one of the vilest men onscreen as none other than charming tycoon, Noah Cross who only cares about accumulating as much money and power as possible. So to get support for his new reservoir project, he basically dumps thousands of gallons of water during an LA drought that basically dries up the San Fernando Valley. He also poison their wells and blows up water tanks to ruin the landowners’ property values so they could sell it to them cheap. Yet, when his son-in-law and Water Commissioner Hollis Mulrway refuses to go along with the plan since he thinks the valley is geologically unstable and doesn’t want to get 500 people killed (like what happened in the dam project), Noah still presses him. And when Hollis discovers his father-in-law’s crimes and conspiracy, Noah has him drowned in a tide pool. Now this alone could just put Noah on the list since it’s very clear that his daughter Evelyn and Hollis had rather happy marriage (well, he was a saint compared to her old man anyway. Then again, you can say that about anybody). However, the most disgusting thing Noah Cross committed was raping Evelyn when she was 15 years old, which traumatized her for life as well as resulted in another daughter, Katherine. Now his secondary goal in the film is taking possession of his “granddaughter” and subjecting her to the same abuse (and ultimately succeeds). Yet, despite all this, Cross says he doesn’t blame himself for his actions mostly out his beliefs that men are capable of anything under the right circumstances, ignorant that this is only true for men like him.
4. Darth Vader (a. k. a. Anakin Skywalker)

From: The Star Wars Saga
The Problem: One of the most famous examples on this list. Darth Vader’s dark days of fatherhood begin long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, when he turns to the dark side and indirectly causes Padme Amidala’s childbirth death from a broken heart as well as their twins being separated from birth in the care of relatives and given up for adoption, which creates a really awkward situation later on (yes, Luke kissed his sister). Years later, he captures a rebel base with his daughter Princess Leia on it, blows up her planet and everything with it before her very eyes, and has her scheduled for execution. Luckily, his Imperial Stormtroopers didn’t find the droids they’re looking for though his son’s aunt and uncle are killed in the hunt. Later on, Vader has Leia captured again at the Cloud City planet as well as has her boyfriend frozen in carbonite and given to a bounty hunter for Jabba the Hutt. Oh, and he cuts off his son’s hand in a climatic lightsaber fight before revealing those earth shattering words, “No, Luke, I am your father” which makes Luke understandably horrified. Also, asks him to join in the family business or die. Sure he brings balance to the Force and overthrows Emperor Sidious just to save Luke’s life but still, his parenting seems to fit squarely on the Dark Side.
5. Daniel Hillard (a.k.a. Mrs. Doubtfire)

From: Mrs. Doubtfire
The Problem: Now I totally understand why any divorced dad would wish to spend more time with his kids, especially if he’s the non-custodial parent. However, applying to be their nanny while impersonating an elderly Scottish woman isn’t a good idea, even if he’s a great cook and keeps the place spotless. Seriously, the scene of seeing Mrs. Doubtfire in the bathroom was particularly disturbing. He also tries to destroy his ex-wife’s relationship with an old flame she just reconnected with. Though the movie paints him as a somewhat competent father, he could also seem like a creepily obsessed stalker. And in many ways, that kind of makes a seemingly light family comedy appear secretly terrifying.
6. Dad Meiks

From: Frailty
The Problem: As far as religious nuts go, while you may debate about Rev. Powell’s possible devotion to the Almighty as sincere or not, Dad Meiks basically has a religious experience which drives him to go on a killing spree with his sons and plunging his family into turmoil. While one son totally buys into his dad’s bullshit, the other is torn between his dad and thinking the guy is nuts as well as thinks his dad and brother are killing innocent people. So when your dad comes to you one morning and tells you and your brother that they’re soldiers in a heavenly war and charged with destroying demons on earth, you might want to get him institutionalized, if not jailed. Also imprisons his son in a hole.
7. Victor Frankenstein

From: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
The Problem: So you managed to create life from a collection of dead body parts, which means you’ll certainly be seen as a great scientific genius for generations. The bad news is that moments after observing the giant flailing, patchwork son, stronger and larger than most human beings, Frankenstein decides he’s a monster and abandons him by high tailing to his family estate. Sure Victor might’ve been a bit too unprepared for parenthood but still, experiment or not, the Creature is his kid who needs love and acceptance by the man who created him, which he doesn’t get. Also, has no idea of how to take responsibility of his Creation either, which also leads to unfortunate implications. Of course, this leads the Creature to become a twisted victim of circumstance as well as do horrible things and in lose everyone Victor ever loved (like his brother, fiancée, parents, best friend, etc.). It doesn’t help that everyone in town is understandably afraid the Creature, which really would’ve been averted if Victor just gave him a little love and affection he desperately wanted. Instead he vows to track him down and take revenge (as well as destroys the body of the Creature’s potential love interest). Maybe we shouldn’t label his Creation Frankenstein’s Monster, shall we?
8. Colonel Frank Fitts USMC

From: American Beauty
The Problem: As played by Chris Cooper, this man is perhaps one of the most twisted fathers in movie history. Not only is he a self-hating homophobe, right-wing military type, and collector of Nazi memorabilia, he’s also incredibly verbally and physically abusive to his son Ricky. Whenever he’s not making homophobic comments like, “I’d rather you were dead, than be a fucking faggot!,” he’s beating the living shit out of him so he could raise him in his own image, has him committed to an institution for a couple years, and has him take drug tests regularly. Of course, you can easily see why poor Ricky has turned into such a creep who deals pot and stalks his neighbor Jane Burnham. And Frank tends to have a crush on Jane’s dad whom he shoots in the garage after Leslie rejects his advances.
9. Dwight Hansen

From: This Boy’s Life
The Problem: Another stepfather on the list and played by Academy Award winner Robert DeNiro. However, out of the bad dads here, he’s the real life expy dad for once and boy, is he a force to be reckoned with. At first he seems respectable at least in the eyes of the eccentric Caroline Wolff who thinks she’s had it made with him since she always wants to settle down and find a decent man as well as provide a better home for herself and son Toby (Leonard DiCaprio). And it does seem that Dwight has an interest in raising Toby as his kid since he has children of his own. Unfortunately, he has a need to dominate everyone in his life, even if it’s through physical, emotional, and verbal abuse. Unsurprisingly, Dwight’s marriage to Caroline leads to several years of family dysfunction, which doesn’t go well for Toby. No wonder he wants to get out of Concrete. Still, the fact that some of Robert DeNiro played gangsters much more loveable than this guy really speaks volumes about him especially when he says, “Yeah, you pull that hot shot stuff around me, and I’ll break every bone in your goddamn body. You understand me? Yeah, you’re in for a change, mister, a whole ‘nother ball game.”
10. Humbert Humbert
From: Lolita
The Problem: For those not familiar with this famous work of literature, Humbert Humbert is a professor who moves into a house as a boarder to a Charlotte Haze, charms her with his eruditeness, and marries her. Of course, if you aren’t familiar with the story itself or pop culture, Humbert Humbert is a pedophile who has an obsession with pre-teen girls he refers to as nymphets. And the girl that has caught his eye here is Charlotte’s daughter Dolores or “Lolita” as we’re more familiar with. Now as long as Charlotte is in the picture, there’s not much H. H. can do other than detail his obsession with Lolita in his diary which his sex starved wife discovers and is understandably horrified. Yet, when Charlotte dies in a traffic accident, H. H. basically kidnaps and molests her which results in her childhood being utterly destroyed and her story never being heard. Also has a habit of hitting Lolita when she fails to please him sexually or otherwise. And the worst part is, he’s not the only one abusing her either.
11. Lucas Cross
From: Peyton Place
The Problem: Basically, this is a man who works as a school janitor and stepdad who should never be around children, or at least teenage girls. For one, he’s an alcoholic. Second and more importantly, it’s very apparent that his step children hate him and for good reason. The older brother basically skips town just to avoid him and Selena can’t stand being alone with him for fear that he’s making advances to her. And that one night she returns from the graduation dance with her boyfriend, Lucas rapes her. Now impregnated, Selena understandably seeks an abortion (which is illegal) but once Dr. Swain sees Lucas chasing her in revenge, he relents but has him sign a statement and instructs him to skip town. Not to mention, this also drives Lucas’ wife to hang herself in the Mackenzies’ closet. Nevertheless, Lucas returns to Peyton Place and tries to rape Selena again but she kills him and is subsequently arrested for his murder. If it weren’t for Dr. Swain coming to Selena’s defense (as well as giving her an abortion, though I doubt that a fall would’ve caused her to miscarry), Lucas would’ve succeeded in ruining his stepdaughter’s life.
12. Bill Maplewood

From: Happiness
The Problem: Now this guy may seem like a perfectly normal and well-adjusted guy you’d be totally fine with coaching your son’s baseball team. He’s just a man in suburbia with a loving wife and a devoted son so totally okay? We see him masturbating to images of young boys in magazines similar to Tiger Beat and convincing his son to invite his friend over for a sleepover. He then proceeds to drug the boys’ snacks and has sex with his son’s friend. Also, fantasizes shooting and killing people as well. What’s even worse is this guy is very much content with being who he is and is willing to describe all the crimes he committed to his son in graphic detail. Maybe this guy should be on a sex offenders list, instead of coaching Little League. Yeah, guaranteed to give you the creeps.
13. Ed Wilson
From: Natural Born Killers
The Problem: If there’s any Rodney Dangerfield character in which he deserves no respect, then Ed Wilson is it. Sure a father might find it difficult letting his little girl go but his is taking it beyond the pale as well as complete scumbag who beats up his wife and sexually abuses his own daughter, Mallory when she’s clean and once the liquor haze has worn off and he’s looking for lovin.’ With a man so repugnant and so utterly lacking in the basic courtesies that you wonder how he’s managed to live so long without being stabbed, you can understand why Mallory hooked up with confirmed serial killer and decided to accompany him on a killing spree. Let’s just say, no tears were shed by audiences when mass-murderer Mickey Knox drown him in the family fish tank. Of course, that action makes Mickey seem like a hero. Of course, while his fate was very much deserved, the others weren’t.
14. Jerry Blake

From: The Stepfather
The Problem: Basically this guy is a bluebeard serial killer as well as a disciple of the Rev. Harry Powell’s Guide to Love and Murder. Yet unlike the legendary Robert Mitchum villain, he’s obsessed with being a part of the perfect family, to such an extent that if his current family doesn’t live up to his expectations (or finds out), he kills them, absorbs their assets, and moves on to another. It’s no wonder that rich single moms tend to be a prime target for him. Still, avoid the man who thinks the knife is the best solution for any family problems. Still, a rather cheerful individual until he gets angry, then it’s just “Mack the Knife” from there (and I don’t mean the song Bobby Darin sang).
15. Royal Tenenbaum

From: The Royal Tenenbaums
The Problem: Royal Tenenbaum may have great genes to produce a brood of geniuses but he’s still a failure as a father. He singles one son out as an obvious favorite, introduces his adopted daughter as his “adopted daughter,” as well as steals from, intentionally shoots, and gets sued by his other son. Not to mention, pushing his kids to greatness but he’s still disappointed in them. And to top it all off, he fakes having stomach cancer just so he could gain his kids’ sympathy and access to the family home. Oh, and he also tries to win back his ex-wife despite the fact that she’s with another man. Sure he may be redeemed by the end but his kids are still screwed up and it’s pretty much his fault.
16. Dan Gallagher

From: Fatal Attraction
The Problem: When it comes to adultery, it takes two to tango. Yet, when Dan cheats on his wife with Alex Forrest and casts her aside, he risks putting his family in extreme danger since Alex doesn’t take rejection too well, to put it mildly. Now if Dan had just kept it in his pants while his wife and daughter were away, there would be no crazy ex-mistress stalking him, boiling his daughter’s bunny, kidnapping his daughter from her school, and trying to kill his wife. Remember guys, this is why adultery is bad.
17. Peter McAllister
From: Home Alone 1 and 2
The Problem: Sure both the McAllisters aren’t great parents when it comes to their son Kevin. Of course, they both often ignore him enough that they leave him home alone during the Christmas holidays. But when Kevin’s abandoned during Christmas, it’s usually Kate who does everything humanly possible to get to him, even if it’s traveling on the road with John Candy and his band. Peter, on the other hand, seems keener to watch It’s a Wonderful Life than search for his son as well as seems so nonchalant about the whole ordeal. Okay, so he has a lot of kids to keep an eye on. But some of them are teenagers and plus, his uncle and aunt live under the same roof as well. So it’s not like he’s desperate for a babysitter here.
18. Lester Burnham

From: American Beauty
The Problem: Of course, Frank Fitts isn’t the only bad father from American Beauty. The other is of course, Leslie Burnham himself, a role which earned Kevin Spacey a second Oscar. Sure he’s a selfish hedonist who feels trapped in his dull suburban life and unhappy marriage with his real estate agent wife Carolyn. Yet, even so, he should at least have some decency to at least be a bit ashamed with his crush on his daughter Jane’s friend Angela. But, no, he just starts out a workout regimen in an attempt to seduce her. This understandably creates a rift between him and Jane as well as leads to her take someone up on an offer to kill him as he begins to withdraw from her. Too bad he can’t patch things up with her by the end though (for obvious reasons). At least Ricky’s pot may slow him down a bit.
19. Denethor

From: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Problem: Even the ruling families on Middle Earth can have their problems and the Steward of Gondor’s is no exception. However, you have to feel bad for Faramir here. For one, by the time we meet them both, Denethor is already grieving from losing his favorite son and heir Boromir, basically making Faramir live in his older brother’s shadow. And if that weren’t enough he sends his son and some of the best fighters of Gondor into a battle he’d surely not just lose, but possibly perish. Yet, when Faramir returns barely alive, Denethor assumes he’s dead (despite Pippin’s repeated insistence that he’s not) as well as proceeds to put him on a stack of firewood, douse with oil, and burn him alive. Thanks to Pippin being there, at least Faramir was saved and able to seek the medical treatment he needed to fully recover and marry Eowyn (also from a dysfunctional royal family, at first). Yet, I’m sure having your dad burn you alive will put you in a lifetime of therapy or whatever equivalent they have on Middle Earth.
20. Glen Whitehouse
From: Affliction
The Problem: This role gave James Coburn an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Now with the baby boomers aging and people living longer than ever before, it’s very likely you’ll have to take care of an aging parent, especially if you’re a woman or live nearby (my dad took care of my Grandma C when I was little and my parents are running errands for my mother’s folks who live down the road from me). However, if your aging father was an abusive alcoholic, let’s say attempting a reconciliation with him will be very difficult to say the least. Yet, this is what Glenn’s son Wade tries to do. However, it was his relationship with Glenn that has infiltrated every relationship he’s ever had and acts as the lens from which he views and judges the world. Because of his dad, Wade respects some people as a pupil would to a master or he hates them and violently lashes out at them for disappointing him in holding his preconceived “high assessments” of him. Not to mention, Wade is very unstable, has a drinking problem, inability to control his anger, and a morally low view on himself. Let’s just say that Glenn’s bad parenting has really influenced how much of a bastard Wade turned out, to put it mildly.
21. Bob Ewell

From: To Kill a Mockingbird
The Problem: While this movie is famous for featuring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, who basically embodies practically everything a man should be (in my opinion), you can’t leave out Bob Ewell, who’s one of the most terrible dads ever. Sure he’s a racist and impoverished hick but you can say the same about a lot of the townspeople who at least try to be responsible for their families. Ewell doesn’t seem to have the least concern for his kids and doesn’t even send them to school (they only come the first day and leave), which suggests that some form of neglect or social isolation is at play (explaining why Mayella has no friends). And it’s apparent that Ewell at least physically and emotionally abuses her more than any of his other kids. He makes his daughter’s life a complete hell and leaves her desperate for friends so it’s no surprise that she develops feelings for a black man who felt sorry for her. When Ewell saw his daughter make advances to an unwilling Tom, he beats her up and gets Robinson arrested on rape charges. Now we all know that Atticus Finch points out that Tom Robinson is incapable of laying a finger on Mayella because all her bruises indicate she was struck by someone left-handed (like Bob Ewell). And Robinson can’t use his left hand due to a childhood accident. Yet, Robinson gets convicted by an all-white-jury anyway due to racism. However, outraged at Atticus making him look like a fool, he stalks Robinson’s wife and goes after the Finch kids in the dead of night in revenge. Thank God, Boo Radley stabbed him in the end.
22. Adam Trask

From: East of Eden
The Problem: Now Adam Trask isn’t the worst father on the list or a terrible parent at that. After all, he did raise his twin sons while his wife Kate just disappeared without a trace before turning up in Salinas as a brothel owner. Still, he’s on the list for one thing: excessive favoritism which really hurts both his sons’ well-being if you think about it. Now in the movie, it’s said that Aron is the good son while Cal is the bad son. Except that when you really get to know Cal, it’s really not the case (and may even be the opposite). Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop Adam from emotionally abusing him behind a guise of religious hypocrisy or at least refusing to acknowledge his worth as a person. Sure Cal may be a troublemaker but he’s a smart guy who craves for fatherly love and affection as well as sets up a bean growing enterprise to save his family farm after Adam’s disaster with the cabbages. Yet, no matter what Cal does for his dad, Adam always seems to see him as nothing but a piece of shit who’d never amount to anything while he sees Aron as almost incapable of anything bad. Adam’s conduct to his sons at the birthday party scene just appalls me, especially when he praises Aron for getting “engaged” to Abra (despite not proposing to her first) while basically deriding Cal for war profiteering even though he did practically everything he could to save his ass. And to make matters worse, Adam has lied to his twin boys all their lives about their mother being in heaven. This drives Aron in shock that he gets drunk and joins the army when he finds out the truth about Kate. Sure you might blame it on Cal, but if Adam hadn’t lied to them or put him on a pedestal, Aron probably would’ve been better able to handle it.
23. Thomas Jefferson

From: Jefferson in Paris
The Problem: I know he’s a Founding Father, US president, and wrote the Declaration of Independence. However, as a parent, he didn’t treat his children equally as well as discriminated them on the basis of color. Sure his two surviving daughters by his dead wife might get the best education a Virginia plantation upbringing can offer them. Yet, we need to accept that Jefferson was a slave owner who fathered children with his slave, Sally Hemings (the first when she was 15 years old). Now while Jefferson did eventually free most of Hemings’ children (and his daughter freed Hemings), this doesn’t disprove the fact that Jefferson spent most of these kids’ early lives treating them like his property as well as viewed them socially inferior to his white children (the former might not be absolutely true but the latter was). Makes him kind of a hypocrite if you really think about it. Still, the concept of planters fathering children with slaves was a very common practice (since it explains the fact most African Americans have at least one white ancestor. Any time Henry Louis Gates does an African American’s genealogy, this always comes up).
24. Kevin Flynn

From: TRON: Legacy
The Problem: I don’t know about you, but I think this guy makes the dad in “Cats in the Cradle” seem like the dad in “Watching Scotty Grow.” Sure the guy is the CEO of a video game company and does his work in the game world. However, unlike most guys in the video game industry, Kevin abandoned his wife and son for twenty years just to be in a world of his own creation. Then one day, he sends his son a mysterious message from out of the blue telling him to go into the Grid. This, to get him out of a jam. I know that Sam kind of puts his dad on a pedestal and understands his dad’s obligation to the virtual world. But still, I don’t think disappearing into a virtual world for twenty years while having a wife and kid at home is a great example of responsible parenting to say the least. In fact, I’d either take Flynn as a workaholic or just plain selfish.
25. Harry Wormwood

From: Matilda
The Problem: Of course, you have to hand it to Roald Dahl to create some of the worst parents in children’s literature, especially in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now Harry fits to the stereotype of used car salesman to a tee and has a personality of one to boot. Of course, being a couch potato who doesn’t have any books in his house, he’s pretty horrible to his precocious daughter Matilda whom he ignores for much of her young life. That is, before packing her off to the elementary school of hell (you know, the one with Principal Trunchbull and the “chokey”), but has no qualms about the school’s disciplinary measures there (even though he should). And if that wasn’t bad enough, he jumps at the chance of disowning Matilda altogether when her kindhearted teacher offers to take her off his hands. Sure it’s a better life, but still pretty brutal that he does it without bearing a second thought.
26. Mr. Perry

From: Dead Poets Society
The Problem: Now there are plenty of fathers in movies who may disagree with their children’s chosen path in life, particularly if it contrast to the profession they’d want their kids to be. Yet, at least most of these dads come to accept their kid’s ambitions like in October Sky or Billy Elliot. Mr. Perry isn’t one of these dads. Played by Red Foreman from That 70s Show, Mr. Perry is domineering and controlling parent who’d want nothing more than to see his son Neil go to medical school and become a doctor (which he’s willing to do and gets straight A’s). He doesn’t care what Neil wants for himself and shows absolutely no interest in what he wants to do with his life. So when he sees Neil as Puck in a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you’d think Mr. Perry would finally see that his son has talent and would finally support Neil’s acting dream. Yet, this isn’t what Mr. Perry does. Instead, he goes utterly ballistic and has Neil transferred to military school. However, Neil kills himself before he could be shipped out. Now it’s very clear that Mr. Perry’s crushing Neil’s dreams and emotional abuse were what led to his son’s suicide. But, he certainly doesn’t try to consider the idea and blames his son’s death on his teacher Mr. Keating. This gets Keating fired. Bastard. Would it be any trouble for him if he’d just let Neil do community theater? Worked out for Graham Chapman.
27. Richard Detmer
From: Chronicle
The Problem: Andrew Detmer doesn’t have a great life at home or at school. He’s bullied at school, his mother’s dying of cancer, his home is a dump, his family is struggling and his dad is basically a drunk who uses him as punching bag to take out all his family’s frustrations. Yet, it doesn’t seem that Richard does anything to relieve his family’s financial stress or get his wife the treatment she needs. And in fact, despite deeply caring for his wife, he’s basically the sole reason why she can’t get any treatment since most of the money coming into the house tends to go to his booze. Yet, Richard doesn’t seem to realize that he has a drinking problem and blames everything on his son. He calls Andrew selfish for keeping an expensive camera (which his cousin gave him as a gift) as well as ransacks his room. And when his wife dies, Richard blames Andrew for it as well. For having a father like that, it’s no surprise Andrew’s superpowers became so destructive as they did.
28. Wayne Szalinski

From: Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, and Honey We Shrunk Ourselves
The Problem: While many mad scientist parents can be quite terrible parents, yet Wayne has no problem with loving his children. However, he’s on this list for a reason and that is because he’s such a careless buffoon with his inventions around the house. I mean having an electromagnetic shrink ray in his attic while leaving the door unlocked basically puts his and the neighbors’ kids fighting for their lives when they accidentally wander in it and afterwards, have to band together to survive. And that doesn’t even mention unwittingly throwing the kids in the trash, having them fend for themselves against insects, a lawnmower, a cat, and a lawn sprinkler system, and having one of them almost get eaten in the cereal. Any sane person living nearby would call child services. Of course, even when he tries to make things right again, he somehow blows up his baby in one of the sequels.
29. Lt. Col. Wilbur ‘Bull’ Meechum, USMC

From: The Great Santini
The Problem: Now my father is a former military brat (since he was born in Germany and spent some time in New Mexico), but the only way his father ran his family like a military camp was have them “confined to quarters” if he or his brother did anything bad (as far as I’ve heard from him). This guy, kind of goes beyond that. Sure he may be seen as a great Marine flying ace but he’s also an alcoholic and a failure as a dad. He’s fairly abusive to his teenage basketball star son Ben, whom he derides with, “Hey, hey, mama’s boy! Bet’cher gonna cry. Gonna cry? Let’s see you cry. Cry, sport, cry.” He has no idea how to be supportive and would rather be competitive and hold his son back even if it means humiliating him through unnecessary physical tactics. Oh, and gets his son ejected by telling him to get even with a boy from the other team. Not the kind of parent you’d want to see at your kids’ sporting events.
30. Allie Fox

From: The Mosquito Coast
The Problem: If your dad forced you and his family to move to a faraway place, at least he didn’t say that America has perished in a nuclear holocaust and drag your family to the jungles of Belize to build a refrigeration machine so his talents can be appreciated. Yes, Allie Fox justifies the move saying that most people in the developed world have refrigerators and air conditioners. But as an engineer specializing in refrigeration technology, he doesn’t seem to respect the joy that these appliances eventually get old and break down (like any other thing you buy) and that Americans will always be hungry for the next big breakthrough in technology, which created a type of consumerism that made Steve Jobs a national treasure. But, no, being the Steve Jobs of refrigeration isn’t enough for Allie so he has to pack up his family to the Central American rainforests and attempt to construct a utopian society. And the guy cares much more for his unrealistic and ultimately doomed utopia that he manipulates his family with lies about the US being destroyed by nuclear war so he could force them to live in his unhealthy and unrealistic do-it-yourself survivalist fantasy. Unsurprisingly, his megalomania puts his family in extreme danger. Next time your dad forces you to go on a weekend camping trip, be glad he’s not this guy.

2 responses to “Bad Movie Fathers

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