JOE's 5 favourite movie dads
With just a few days until Father's Day, we at JOE decided to pay homage to the greatest dad's of all time - the fictional ones, of course.
If there's one thing Hollywood is good at, it is in building unrealistic expectations. Talk to the guys who have been dumped by their girlfriends for not being more like dreamy fictional vampire Edward Cullen of the Twilight series, or movies that tell girls that 'every girl is a princess'.
Dads get a raw deal too. Has your father ever dressed up as a Scottish housewife to get closer to you following a painful divorce, or even hidden a gold watch up his ass during the Korean War?
Of course not. Although having said that, my dad, now a retired fireman, used to let me pretend I was driving the fire engine. The point is, my dad is better than yours. Actually no, the point is that all the best dads out there can never live up to expectations of Hollywood.
Not that there's anything wrong with that sometimes - after all, who doesn't love watching Arnie kill 629 (rough estimate) bad guys in Commando, all to rescue his irritating daughter? He's not alone either, which is why we rounded up our five favourite movie dads.
Mufasa from The Lion King
If you woke up tomorrow and your dad was a lion, voiced by James Earl Jones, would you even be mad? Not if he's anything like Mufasa, the king of the Pridelands and king of Disney dads. Although cruelly offed well before his prime (damn you Scar!!!), Mufasa helpfully returns later to inspire an adolescent Simba as a cloud-based apparition. A handy talent, that.
Though our favourite lion father figure only appears on-screen for about 10 minutes in total, he leaves behind some excellent life lessons, including his pro-carnivore stance on antelope-eating. Remember, if you spot an antelope walking around Phoenix Park, club it and eats its bones, because when you die, you "become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass". Suck it, PETA.
Bryan Mills from Taken
Amazingly, it wasn't saving the Jews, fighting with a lightsaber as a Jedi Knight or starring as Michael Collins that made Liam Neeson the absolute bad-ass that he is today. Rather, it was the derivative yet incredibly satisfying Taken that catapulted Neeson to his role as Hollywood's go-to guy when it comes to punching creepy Euro henchmen in the face.
Pew! Pew! Pew!
Taken displays Neeson in fine form as Bryan Mills, a CIA officer who is possibly the only cool Hollywood hero named Bryan. After his daughter is taken (eh, eh?) in Paris, Neeson is like a man possessed, trying to redeem his awful karaoke machine birthday present by saving his daughter's life by any means necessary.
Heterosexuality aside, if Neeson burst into a room, snapped three henchmen's necks and took us in his arms, would we swoon? You're damn right we would, we'd swoon our balls off.
Atticus Finch of To Kill A Mockingbird
If you haven't read To Kill A Mockingbird, here are the cliffnotes: Racism = bad.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let us point you in the direction of Gregory Peck's iconic role as Atticus Finch, a performance that led the American Film Institute to deem the character the greatest hero in American film in their 2003 '100 Years, 100 Film' poll. This was four years before Eddie Murphy's Norbit, which explains its absence.
Whether he's sharing sage advice with his tomboy daughter Scout or just plain ole standing up for what's right, Finch stands as a paragon of honour throughout Harper Lee's classic. The character is best remembered for the line, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it".
That iconic quote was orginally literally interpreted in a harrowing sequence in which Finch stalks and murders a homeless man, though author Lee sensibly excised the passage on the advice of her publishers.
Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness
Will Smith's portrayal of real-life superhero Chris Gardner is one of the most heartwarming father figure performances in years, a fact likely aided greatly when Smith's son Jaden won the role of his on-screen son in the movie - what are the odds of that?
A great man, a greater moustache
In The Pursuit of Happyness (happiness is deliberately misspelled for reasons too cloying to explain here), Smith's Gardner character goes from rubbish medical equipment salesman to homeless single dad and eventual stockbroker whiz in less than two hours.
With incredibly high moral standards and determination, Gardner achieves the American Dream despite overwhelming odds, all while sporting a delicious, well-coiffured moustache.
Darth Vader from the Star Wars series
Granted, this is a controversial choice. Not many dads out there can say that they've chopped off their son's arm or destroyed an entire planet - we understand that. Imagine you're Anakin Skywalker for a second, though - you've had your arse and lower body handed to you in a battle on a lava planet and now your kids have been taken from you. What's a man to do?
Simple really, rule the galaxy to pass the time and when your son Luke shows up on the scene, grant him the chance to learn the family trade. Fair enough, "It is your destiny! Join me, and together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son!" was a bit of a hard sell, but the man was desperate.
In the end, spurned by his offer, Vader had no choice but to settle things once and for all with his son in Return of the Jedi.
*SPOILER ALERT* No match for his Jedi Knight son, Vader concedes defeat and is spared by Luke, who is then tortured by Emperor Palpatine with Force Lightning. With his last strength, Vader saves the day but is mortally wounded in the process. A redemptive hero, an unmasked Vader dies in peace by his son's side. Sniff... *END SPOILERS*
Now our question to you - would Atticus Finch go through all that to save his son's life? Would he hell, he'd be too busy pondering his glasses on a family bench.
Neeson? Neeson got killed in Phantom Menace by Darth bloody Maul, so he wouldn't have a hope. Gardner? Too poor for space travel. Mufasa? Vader just about edges this one, although both he and Mufasa were voiced by James Earl Jones so both's greatness is no surprise.
So is it fair to describe Darth Vader as the greatest movie dad of all time? Yes, that's pretty much the entire point of this article.