Zach Weinberg has a soft spot for the strong, silent type—in movie dads. What’s your favorite film depiction of fatherhood?
5. Fred Jung / BLOW (played by Ray Liotta)
In the 2001 hit, BLOW, Ray Liotta plays the role of George Jung’s (Johhny Depp) father. While the role of Fred Jung is nothing more than a supportive one, the older, much wiser Jung makes his presence felt throughout the entire length of the movie. And yes, while I might be a little biased towards Liotta’s character considering both he and my father represent hard-working middle-class plumbers, that doesn’t take away from the appreciation I have for the unyielding love Fred gives his troubled child. Even in the midst of watching a swarm of government agents arrest his son on drug charges, Fred Jung stands by his only boy’s side.
Defining Quote: “Sometimes you’re flush and sometimes you’re bust, and when you’re up, it’s never as good as it seems, and when you’re down, you never think you’ll be up again, but life goes on.”
4. Lorenzo Anello / A BRONX TALE (played by Robert De Niro)
“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent,” says Lorenzo Anello to his 9-year-old son, Calogero (Francis Capra), in the 1993 drama, A BRONX TALE. A bus driver by day, Lorenzo finds himself going to toe-to-toe with one of the biggest and most powerful Mob bosses in all of New York City. And it isn’t an unpaid debt the two Italian stallions are butting heads over, it’s the love and affection of Lorenzo’s son, “C”, who’s been taken under the wing of wise guy Sonny LoSpecchio (Chazz Palminteri). But despite having less money and a much smaller crew than Sonny, Lorenzo remains deeply involved in his son’s business in a desperate, and somewhat ballsy attempt to keep the boy from being blinded by the Mafia lifestyle. Lorenzo doesn’t even flinch when he catches his 9-year-old son throwing away his baseball cards because “Mickey Mantle will never pay the rent”; Lorenzo storms out of the apartment and into the back room of the local bar to confront a heavily guarded Sonny.
Defining Quote: “Sometimes in the heat of passion, the little head tells the big head what to do, and the big head should think twice about what you are doing.”
3. Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks)
It may not be until the final 15 minutes of the 1994 blockbuster, FORREST GUMP, in which Forrest is first introduced to his son, Forrest Jr. (Haley Joel Osment), but they are completely inseparable from the moment they meet. If Forrest’s accomplishments, which include shaking hands with Presidents, being awarded the Purple Heart and Medal of Honor, running across the United States of America, winning the Heisman Trophy, and inspiring Elvis Presley’s dance moves as well as the lyrics to “Imagine” by John Lennon, are any indication of his fathering skills, I’d let Forrest father my own child any day of the week.
Defining Quote: “Mama always said, dying was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t.”
2. Daniel Hillard/MRS. DOUBTFIRE (played by Robin Williams)
While most fathers have a difficult time dressing up as Santa Claus once a year, Daniel Hillard was more than willing to transform both physically and mentally into a strict, but loving 65-year-old English housekeeper in the 1993 comedy, MRS. DOUBTFIRE. Any father who is prepared to cross-dress and go head-to-head with Pierce Brosnan all in the name of winning back his children, is A-OK in my book.
Defining Quote: “But if there’s love, dear … those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart, forever. All my love to you, poppet, you’re going to be all right … bye-bye.”
1. Michael Sullivan / ROAD TO PERDITION (played by Tom Hanks)
ROAD TO PERDITION might be one of the most underrated films of all time. The 2002 Mafia drama also provided my favorite father-son story line. After losing his youngest son and wife to the same crime family that he had once been a part of, Sullivan takes his son, Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) on a road trip he will never forget. Despite teaching him how to drive a getaway car (for the sake of robbing multiple banks) and showing him how to properly handle a firearm, the older Sullivan is insistent on his son growing up to lead a normal, crime-free life.
Defining Quote: “The name’s Sullivan,” to the bank teller of whom he is robbing. “You want me to spell it?”
Who is your favorite cinematic father?