The worst fathers of cinema…
Happy Father’s Day to all the good dads out there. We, here at LRM, understand that relationships between fathers and their kids can be…complicated. We’ve compiled a list of 10 dads that won’t be getting cards this year for various reasons.
Daniel Plainview- There Will be blood
The first of our terrible fathers comes from a classic. This 2007 film stars Daniel Day-Lewis in an Oscar-winning turn as a hard-nosed oil and mineral tycoon at the turn of the 20th Century. While the film is largely about the intersection of capitalism and the death of the American frontier and the intersection of faith and capitalism, this movie makes our list due to the strained relationship between Lewis’ Plainview and his adopted son, H.W. Deafened due to an accident and sent away by the elder Plainview, H.W. returns to try to make amends with his father, who tells him that he’s “not his son” and was an orphan “bastard from a basket” that he used to get oil. H.W. storms out, relieved that he isn’t related to Plainview.
Thanos- Avenger: Infinity War
Movies are giving adoption a bad name. While it was clear that the Mad Titan was less than pleased with Nebula, who he dismantles piece by piece, he seemed to truly care for Gamora…until he needed the Soul Stone, that is. He might have shed a tear before pitching her off the side of a mountain, but it doesn’t change the fact that he killed not only Gamora, but her birth family as well. As far as fathers go, pretty terrible.
John Milton- The Devil’s Advocate
Al Pacino knows how to chew scenery and there’s probably no greater opportunity than while playing the literal devil, Milton, in 1997’s The Devil’s Advocate. Seducing his son, Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves), to come live the Big Law life so many attorneys dream of in New York City. Milton uses work and the lifestyle to drive a wedge between Lomax and his wife Mary Ann (Charlize thron), before raping and brutalizing her. Lomax doesn’t believe Milton would do such a thing and commits his wife to a mental institution. With Mary Ann out of the way, Milton’s plan climaxes in attempting to have Lomax conceive the Anti-Christ with his half-sister, Christabella (Connie Nielson).
Herod- The Quick and the Dead
All Kid wanted was a little approval. Some small acknowledgment from his father Herod, who ran the oppressed kingdom in which they all lived with and iron fist. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. The announcement of a dueling competition in the small town drew gunslingers from all over the west. The townspeople, longing to be free of the tyrant king, went as far as hiring SGT Clay Cantrell (Keith David) to dispatch Herod. After that plan is shot to pieces, the townsfolk held on to hope that Herod wouldn’t or couldn’t kill his own son, Kid. That didn’t work out for them so well, either.
Ego- Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2
Kurt Russell is awesome. He’s Snake Plisken. He’s CPT Ron. Ego from Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 is a bastard. Flat out. Sure, trying to take over the galaxy is bad enough, but we expect that from antagonists. Giving your son’s mother cancer and then trying to kill him and his friends is horrible. During this reveal, he also corrupted the image of David Hasselhoff. Dude, this behavior is just beyond the pale. Many fathers are bad, but this father killed the mother. Not cool, bro.
Cameron’s Dad- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
This one may be a bit of a cheat, because we never see him, but consider this: Cameron is so worked up by the interactions he’s had with his father, that he’d rather pretend to be sick than leave his room. In 80s films, particularly John Hughes movies, parents are the villains. What makes Mr. Frye such an effective secondary one (and a bad father) is that we never actually have to see him to see the impact he’s having on his son. He wears suspenders…with a belt.
The King of Arendelle- Frozen/Frozen II
If this were an actual ranking, the King of Arendell would likely be near the top. It’s bad enough that with five minutes or less screen time in the first film he manages to give his daughter issues that last most of her life, the second movie reveals that he KNEW what was going on with her the whole time and still managed to emotionally scar her because of it. Is this the result of a retcon/poor scripting? Possibly. However, the result his him and the queen looking like real pricks.
Emperor Palpatine- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
It should come as no surprise that Palpatine is a bad father. The surprise likely comes from that fact that he’s a parent at all, which was only one of two bombshells about the Sith Lord dropped during the Rise of Skywalker. He makes this list for having his own son murdered, but he has the distinction of being the only grandparent on this list to also be a dick because he went on to try to murder his granddaughter as well.
Jack Torrance- The Shining
To be quite honest, it’s hard to say who the real villain of this film is: Jack Torrance or Stanley Kubrick. Since this list is about fathers, let’s stick to Torrance. While the book is a bit more nuanced in its portrayal of a man descending into madness due to alcoholism, the movie version of Jack seems to be off almost from the beginning. What follows is Jack eventually breaking down and attempting to murder his family with an ax.
Harry Wormwood- Matilda
Adapted from the Roald Dahl novel, Matilda, DeVito relished bringing the bully life. A con artist and bully, Mr. Wormwood delights in torturing Matilda, when he isn’t neglecting her. Not only that, but he’s raising his idiot son to be just like him.
And that’s our list! What fathers made your list of terrible dads? Let us know in the comments below.
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