Sitcom dads have it relatively easy. Whatever mischief their little scamps get into, you can rest assured all will be resolved within the allotted 30 minutes. Fatherhood can be more challenging for movie dads, whether its giant asteroids headed for earth, sex traffickers kidnapping their daughter, or the birthday party entertainment not showing up. Of course, not every dad is as resourceful as Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills in “Taken,” who will stop at nothing to retrieve his kidnapped daughter.
It helps to be an action hero, but the coolest movie dads have their own “particular set of skills” that allow them to save the day.
Ethan Edwards in “The Searchers”: Okay, John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards is not little Debbie’s actual father. He’s her uncle, but he will spend five years tracking the Comanche Chief who slaughtered her family to find her.
Harry Stamper in “Armageddon”: Who ya gonna call when that asteroid is on a collision course with earth; Bruce Willis. It’s hard to tell which is a bigger priority to Harry; saving the Earth from an extinction event, or keeping his daughter away from Ben Affleck.
John Matrix in “Commando”: Like Bryan Mills, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Matrix will go to the ends of the Earth to rescue his kidnapped daughter. Matrix’s special kill, besides dispatching hundreds of mercenaries, is delivering killer one-liners. The best: “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last? I lied.”
J.J. McQuade in “Lone Wolf McQuade.” So how do you think Cuck Norris’s McQuade is going to react when bad guys put his daughter in the hospital? Hint: It involves roundhouse kicks to the face.
James Marshall in “Air Force One”: That’s President James Marshall, and he’s forced to go solo when Russian terrorists hijack the presidential plane with his wife and daughter on board.
John Cale in “White House Down”: It’s “Die Hard” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with Channing Tatum’s aspiring Secret Service agent against a band of mercenaries who have taken over the White House with his daughter inside.
Howard Langston in “Jingle all the Way”: Never mind the mercenaries; Arnold faces his most dangerous mission: Find a store that has a Turbo-Man action figure, the only thing his neglected son wants for Christmas.
Daniel Hillard in “Mrs. Doubtfire”: Portraying characters and improv are in Robin Williams’ wheelhouse and as a newly-divorced voice actor, he dons the dress and identity of his children’s new nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire.
Gil Buckman in “Parenthood”: It’s his son’s birthday party; the kids are getting restless, and the party entertainment is not going to show. It’s up to Gil to step in as “Cowboy Gil” and save the day.
Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird”: Widower Atticus can’t do anything, his son complains. Except be the best role model ever when he is called on to defend a black man accused of assaulting a white woman.
Your turn: Name your favorite movie dads.