Father's Day is upon us, and to celebrate it, here's a list of some movie and TV dads who make us grateful for the dad we had (I hope)
WORST MOVIE DADS
Henry Salt (Roy Kinnear) in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971):
I have a confession to make: I'm actually rather fond of Mr. Salt. It might have to do with the casting of late British funnyman Roy Kinnear, who managed to bring a little bit of warmth to a part that, on paper, surely didn't have any. He seems as aware as everyone else that his daughter Veruca is a pain in the ass (this is also true in the book), and we'd almost feel sorry for him if it wasn't clear that it's his own fault for spoiling her rotten. Which is why he winds up following her down the garbage chute. (Wonka assures Charlie that they, and the rest of the guests, are fine: "They'll be back to their normal, terrible selves. But perhaps a bit wiser." Let's hope so.)
Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) in The Judge (2014):
When you're on trial for murder, and you appoint your son to defend you, and he's reluctant to do it because he thinks you might be guilty...well, maybe you've made a parenting mistake or two.
(This is the fourth time Robert Duvall's appeared on the list, which must mean he's the go-to actor for playing questionable fathers. Would that make him the anti-Gregory Peck?)
Mr. Leblanc in Elle (2016): We never actually see the father of protagonist Michelle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert, giving a much better performance here than in Heaven's Gate). But we certainly learn enough about him to know he's a monster. Forty years earlier, he went on a murder spree, killing 27 people. He returned home, covered in blood, and enlisted his then-10 year old daughter to help burn down their house. The press coverage of the story falsely implicated her in the murders, which led to her making a lot of terribly self-destructive choices as an adult.
God (Benoit Poelvoorde) in The Brand New Testament (2015):
In this daring (and very funny) Belgian comedy, God has a wife (a Goddess herself, though she stays out of His way and focuses attention on her baseball card collection), and a 10 year old daughter, Ea, who's as annoyed by her parents as any other 10 year old. (His son, "J.C", has chosen the form of a figurine in the living room, coming to life only to give his sister advice and encouragement.) God is portrayed as a petty, mean-spirited deity who inflicts misery on humans for His own amusement, even going so far as to create thousands of daily annoyances ("Toast with jam always falls jam side down", "When you immerse a body in water, the phone rings") When Ea, fed up with her father, takes off for Earth, He follows her, only to be subjected to the very same annoyances He created. He's also rude and obnoxious to every human he encounters, including a well-meaning priest who ends up beating the crap out of him.
WORST TV DADS
Clifford Blossom (Barclay Hope) on Riverdale:
On this prime-time soap, all the parents are kind of screwy, but none more so than the head of the Blossom family, who murders his son Jason when the boy finds out the Blossom's maple syrup business is a front for a drug smuggling operation. (Leave it to Greg Berlanti to make the "Archie" comics interesting.)
Barry "Baz" Blackwell (Scott Speedman) on Animal Kingdom:
He fathered his eldest child with his adopted sister. What more do you need to know? His mother, Smurf (who made last month's Mother's Day column), puts him second in command of the family business--which is breaking into buildings and robbing them.
Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) on Supernatural:
Kind of a no-brainer to include him on the list, what with him being the personification of evil and all. In the most recent season of the show, he occupied the body of a U.S. president and fathered a child with the president's mistress. And you thought Mr. Salt spawned a monster.