Our fathers

Last month, our movie critic worked through his mommy issues. Now, it’s daddy time.

As I did with movie moms this past Mother's Day, I have compiled a list of my favorite movie dads. Again, I'm avoiding some of the obvious yet beloved ones—Darth Vader, The Godfather, John Ritter in the Problem Child movies—in favor of some more fringe choices.

I do this with the hope that you will access some of these films, watch, enjoy, and think of me. Or my dad. Yeah, go ahead and think about my dad. He's still alive, and he took me to see a lot of these flicks. Dad, I salute you. Now stop eating all of that mayonnaise!

Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) in The Royal Tenenbaums: My all time favorite movie dad, this guy fakes cancer to get back into his children's lives. His big mistake: Choosing stomach cancer as his staged affliction, then constantly gorging on cheeseburgers and fries.

Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me: Leland was pretty naughty and a little scary on the TV show, but when David Lynch took the land of Twin Peaks to the big screen, Leland became the worst dad ever.

Roy Turner (Vic Morrow) in The Bad News Bears: Any kid who has played little league baseball has been up against the worst nemesis known to man—the overly competitive father. As the mean-assed coach of the Yankees, he smacked his kid on the mound in front of many spectators. He made Walter Matthau's drunken coach look like a saint.

Bender’s Dad (voiced by Judd Nelson) in The Breakfast Club: When reminiscing about his dear old dad during weekend detention, dirtbag John Bender (Nelson) comes up with some classic quotes. “Stupid, worthless, no good, goddamn, freeloading son a bitch. Retarded, big mouth, know-it-all asshole jerk.” And, of course, “Shut up bitch! Go fix me a turkey pot pie!” We never see the guy, but this pops is mighty memorable, and we do see the cigar burns he left on his kid's arm.

God in The Passion of the Christ and The Last Temptation of Christ: This particular dad allowed his only begotten son to get a nasty scourging with a cat o' nine tails followed by an amazingly bloody crucifixion in Mel Gibson's torture porn. He also allowed that same son to get teased by Barbara Hershey as his pretend wife in Martin Scorsese's controversial take on the Jesus story, just before suffering the same—if less intensely bloody—fate. Man, when my dad wanted to give me a good combination life lesson and scolding, he just took away the car keys.

Jack Torrance/

Dad Meiks (ax-wielding dads played by Jack Nicholson and Bill Paxton) in Frailty and The Shining: Nothing sucks more than having to deal with a dad chasing your ass with an ax. Except, maybe, having to help your ax-swinging dad kill people he could just swear are demons.

Reese Bobby (Gary Cole) in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: While Will Ferrell has had some awesome movie moms, none of them are cooler than his dad in Talladega Nights, played by the immortal Cole. From putting mountain lions in his kid’s car, to scalping tickets to his son’s big race, this dad has the honor of being one of cinema’s great patriarch assholes.

Pete (Paul Rudd) in Knocked Up and This is 40: This cupcake-eating, fantasy baseball-playing, Pixies-loving dad is probably the coolest movie father of the last 10 years.

Lord Business (Will Ferrell) in The Lego Movie: This time, Will Ferrell himself must be saluted as the dad. If you haven't seen the movie, I can't say any more because I will give too much away. It's out on video now. Watch it, reread this paragraph, and then smack your palm on your forehead and scream “Eureka!”

Det. Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) in Training Day:I'm not quite sure about this, but I think Washington is the only actor to ever win an Oscar for playing a dad who uses his illegitimate son as a human shield.

Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) in Kick-Ass: When we first meet Big Daddy, he's shooting his kid (Chloe Grace Moretz) in her bulletproofed torso as a means of building her strength. Hey, the kid becomes Hit Girl, who is pretty much the definition of awesome, which makes Big Daddy awesome.

Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) in Fargo: This guy lets his kid's mom get kidnapped so he can make quick cash. He also lets that kid hang “Accordion King” posters on his door, a sure bet to get the little man's ass kicked at school if anybody should find out.

We must also give props to the late Harve Presnell who played Jerry’s father-in-law, Wade Gustafson. The way those feathers flew out of his down jacket when he got shot during the ransom drop, and that “Oh, maybe this was a bad idea” groan he did moments after, were pure brilliance.

Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis) in There Will Be Blood: Daniel Plainview, one of cinema's very worst adoptive fathers, calls his deaf son “Just a bastard in a basket!” shortly before caving in a dude's skull with a bowling pin.

Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne) in Boyz in the Hood: One of cinema's all-time great levelheaded dads. Guns and shit going off all around him, but Furious Styles just calmly eats barbecue while doling out sage advice to Cuba Gooding, Jr.

James Court (John Mahoney) in Say Anything: While you may remember him as the dad who stole money from the elderly to send his daughter (Ione Skye) to college and get himself a vintage jukebox, I remember him as the dad who delivered a totally righteous rendition of Steely Dan's “Rikki Don't Lose That Number” after learning his kid got a fellowship.

Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) in War of the Worlds: You have to love that fatherly moment when Cruise takes his daughter (played by Dakota Fanning) outside for a lightning storm, then joins her cowering under a table when it proves to be the start of an alien invasion.

Philip Stevens (James Stewart) in Airport '77: I know you might want me to cite Stewart's George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life as a great dad, but that’s just too obvious. I’m going with the dad he played in this disaster film, where he played a dying millionaire who had to remain calm as his daughter and grandchild sank to the bottom of the Bermuda Triangle in a luxury 747.

Dad (Paul Dooley) in Breaking Away: Yeah, I know, a lot of you haven't seen this movie, but you should. Paul Dooley's frank observations as his bicycling son pretends to be an Italian racer are classic.

Nathan Grantham (Jon Lormer) in Creepshow: Banging his cane on his chair and demanding his Father's Day cake, this cranky dad met his end via a marble ash try swung by his daughter Bedelia (Viveca Lindfors). Having never gotten his damned cake, he comes back from the dead, crushes a young Ed Harris with a tombstone, and ultimately puts icing and candles on a decapitated head for celebratory causes.

“It’s Father’s Day … and … I … got … my … cake! HAPPY… FATHER’S DAY!!!”