Christian Art and Culture

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10 Fantastic Movie Fathers

10 Fantastic Movie Fathers

In today’s pop culture, it’s all too common to see fathers portrayed as heartless tyrants or total buffoons. So this Father’s Day the editors of would like to pay tribute to those movie men who not only provided for their families, but demonstrated the strength of character found only in a great father. Here, in no particular order, are our top ten greatest fathers in film:


1. Mufasa (The Lion King)

Though Mufasa is only featured in the beginning of The Lion King, his influence is felt throughout the entire movie. The king of the Pridelands exudes the qualities of a Christian father; though a children’s cartoon, Mufasa serves an example of how to parent with wisdom and humility. The original “Lion King” teaches his son Simba important life lessons such as how to treat other. “Respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant, to the leaping antelope,” he tells Simba as a cub. Mufasa also admits his vulnerability when he tells young Simba that adults have fears just as children do, teaching his son that having fears does not make him weak or a coward.

2. Pacha (The Emperor’s New Groove)

Pacha, the lovable and long-suffering dad from The Emperor's New Groove, may not be the most well-known father figure, but you can't deny his credentials. Faced with the potential destruction of his family's home (and village), he confronts the most powerful man in the kingdom, Emperor Kuzco. The odds of a peasant changing the mind of a self-centered despot don't seem great, but Pacha models a tenacious, never-say-die spirit for the sake of his family that any father can aspire to. By the end of the movie, Pacha's sacrificial attitude and refusal to quit help transform the most hardened llama heart. That's the stuff good fathers are made of, and any Christian dad would love that to be said of him (okay... maybe not the llama part).

3. Chris Gardner (The Pursuit of Happiness)

Few men have faced the same hardships as Chris Gardner. After watching his business and marriage crumble, Gardner must find ways to make ends meet while living as a single parent. Crippling debt and continued failure force him to suffer indignities few people could tolerate. Yet, throughout all these hardships, Gardner continues to persevere toward a better life for him and his son. His tender love, combined with his fierce determination, make his pursuit of happiness all the more poignant.

4. Henry Jones Senior (Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade)

Henry Jones Sr. is far from the perfect father. Being absent for most of Indy’s childhood, there’s a degree of tension between father and son when they reunite in The Last Crusade. Still, you can’t deny the Sr. Jones is there for his son when he really needs him. During their journey together, he provides Indy with the moral compass needed to find the grail, and the wisdom to let it go. Charming, scholarly, and creative, Henry Jones Senior can teach us all a bit about the importance of faith and self-reliance.

5. Marlin (Finding Nemo)

At first glance, this nervous clownfish doesn’t seem like the ideal parent. He’s overprotective, agoraphobic, and his jokes aren’t even that funny! But when his only son is kidnapped by divers, Marlin steps (er…swims) forward and reveals his true colors. Finding Nemo’s ocean-spanning quest to reunite father and son sees Marlin battling sharks, surfing turtles, and even run a gauntlet of jellyfish. With his lovable sidekick, Dory, teaching him to “just keep swimming”, Marlin stands as proof that love can always overcome the greatest fear.

6. Bryan Mills (Taken)

Bryan Mills is a father with a very particular set of skills. When his daughter is kidnapped by human traffickers in Europe, he sets out on a one-man rescue mission, and heaven help whoever stands in his way. While Taken is a gritty movie to watch, and Mills’ character is less than perfect, he nonetheless demonstrates the ferocity any father would show to save his child. Relentless and single-minded, Mills wont rest until his daughter is home safe. What father wouldn’t fight tooth and nail to save their child?

7. Guido Orefice (Life is Beautiful)

The Italian film Life is Beautiful won three Academy awards and the hearts of millions around the world –largely due to the film’s actor/director/writer Roberto Benigni in his role as Guido Orefice, a Jewish man living in Italy during the Nazi takeover. As we watch Guido mature from a young man into a husband and father, we are captivated and inspired by his cheerful outlook on life, his creativity, and his lively imagination. He has the remarkable ability to pour life and joy into any situation in which he finds himself, and none experience this so profoundly as his wife and son. Guido makes our “top dads” list for his ingenuity and quick thinking, but mostly for his big, sacrificial heart.

8. Mr. Ping (Kung Fu Panda)

It was hardly a surprise to discover Mr. Ping wasn’t Po’s biological father, but that doesn’t make their relationship as father and son any less genuine. This humble goose chose to raise Po as his own child after finding him abandoned outside his restaurant, even summing up his decision with one of the film’s most touching lines, “From that day forward my soup and my life were a little bit sweeter.” Though it’s clear he’d rather see Po join the family business instead of studying Kung-Fu, Mr. Ping has remained a supportive and accepting parent from the beginning. He even discovered the meaning of the Dragon Scroll when all the other Kung Fu masters were left flummoxed! He’s a true father whose sure resonate with parents everywhere.

9. George Baily (It’s a Wonderful Life)

If there were ever a character who truly modeled the selflessness and generosity of Christ, it would have to be George Baily. Since his childhood, George has been putting the needs of others ahead of his own. Whether it’s sacrificing his dreams to head up the Building and Loan, or canceling his honeymoon to save the town he loves, George has always fought to do the right thing for people in need. Though years of hardship eventually take their toll, George’s guardian angel helps him understand that his selfless actions really made a difference in the lives of his friends and family. By the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, you can’t help but agree when George is named “the richest man in town”.

10. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)

What can we say about Atticus Finch that hasn’t been said already? He’s a single father raising two children during one of the most troubled times in history. He serves as the gentle voice of reason and patience amidst the confusion of his daughter’s upbringing. Atticus’ beliefs and strong moral convictions also lead him to defend Tom Robinson, a black man, from baseless criminal charges, knowing full well his actions will draw the ire of his racist neighbors. There are many compelling characters in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, but Atticus Finch, with his fatherly love and firm sense of justice, is one all Christian men can aspire to.

*Published 6/13/2014