Forget mob witness, edgy cop, fresh-faced soldier, or horror movie black guy – by far the most dangerous movie job of all is Dad. So in honor of those kids who, thanks to some emotionally scarring event either witnessed or suggested, won’t have to rush out and buy any Hallmark cards, soap-on-a-rope or polyester ties this Father’s Day. We run down the list from those most likely to be OK to those facing a lifetime of drink and therapy.
12. Mathilda (The Professional)
Her father is gunned down in cold blood by crooked DEA agents, which might, under normal circumstances, be pretty messed up. But Mathilda doesn’t even care about his sloppy, fat ass. She’s actually glad to see him go, especially when her new surrogate father figure is a badass assassin who treats her like a grown-up. Maybe TOO much of a grown-up…but that’s an argument for another time.
11. Daniel Larusso/ Dre Parker (The Karate Kid)
Whether you stand by the classic “Kid” or the noob, the daddy situation is basically the same – there isn’t one. Neither movie plays lip service to the lack of a Mr. Larusso or a Mr. Parker, but that doesn’t seem to faze either Daniel or Dre.
Like Mathilda, they find surrogate fathers who teach them cool shit like kung-fu and give them cars and take them to watch women stare at cobras on mountains. Both kids turn out to be good eggs and are way better off.
10. Britt Reid (The Green Hornet)
Bruce Wayne had to watch both of his parents gunned down in cold blood, then had to spend his life going to prison and training with ninjas before slowly, piece by piece, putting together an arsenal of crime-fighting equipment. On the other hand, Britt’s dad is murdered quietly without Britt’s knowledge, and the guy basically leaves him a Batcave and a martial arts Robin sidekick without Britt having to do much of anything at all to earn it. No wonder he takes it all rather well.
9. Andy (Toy Story)
Lost amid all the toy peril and product placement is the fact that Woody and Buzz Lightyear’s owner Andy has no Dad. His absence is never addressed or explained – is he dead? Or did he run off to another city to become a superhero and start a new family (as explained in our crossover Toy Story/The Incredibles fan fic)? We don’t know. And although Andy shows some red flags – he plays with a cowboy doll until he’s 18 – he ends up acting like a mature young man at the end of Part 3. There is hope.
8. Captain James T. Kirk (Star Trek)
Not only does James Tiberius get away without having to actually see his father pass (he was seconds old when it happened), he gets to hear about how nobly his old man died, how many people he saved in the process and how he was a total hunk who later joined the Avengers. Sure, Kirk walks around with a pretend chip on his shoulder and acts all, “I’m not even going to try and live up to my old man” but deep down, he’s got his act together and would make his dad proud.
7. Mattie Ross (True Grit)
Her father’s murder may have hardened her a bit and eventually sends her down the path to being a one-armed spinster, but Mattie proves to be a whip-smart businesswoman and a hardcore, badass bounty hunter in the making, which is not that awful a trade-off. She’s got some emotional and physical scars, but she also has a “how I spent my 13th birthday” anecdote that wins any dinner party.
6. Ren McCormack (Footloose)
If not for his deadbeat Dad, Ren and his mom wouldn’t have had to move to NoDance, Alassippikansas, and Ren wouldn’t have had to angry-dance an entire community to freedom from happy feet tyranny. Ren manages to beat the system and teach Chris Penn to electric boogaloo, but sooner or later he’s bound to run into a daddy-issue-related breakdown that no amount of empty warehouses or Kenny Loggins can cure.
5. Elliot (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial)
Despite the feel-goodness of Elliot’s story, we can’t help but think he might not have been so quick to become besties with a homeless alien if there was someone around to play catch with him every once in awhile. The whole family reeks of neglect – Elliot is friendless, Michael is a twat, and Gertie, well….grows into Drew Barrymore, and we all know how that goes. No father, and his only friend now lives several million light years away? Elliot’s post-movie life doesn’t look promising…
4. Conan (Conan the Barbarian)
Both versions of Conan – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s monosyllabic brute and Jason Momoa’s smirking bro-dawg – are driven to exact vengeance after witnessing their respective Dad’s deaths. But of the two, Momoa’s Conan is definitely the more emotionally scarred, having been forced to play an active role in his father’s death (which inspired a lifelong hatred of chains. And large buckets of fire, presumably).
Arnold’s Conan seems more affected by his mom’s noble demise than his dad’s (he was ignominiously eaten by dogs), but no matter how you slice it, these are not stable, grounded adults.
3. Oskar Schell (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Let’s run down the checklist: Thanks to 9/11, Oskar is a fatherless, emotional tripwire with more neuroses than a Woody Allen cast. He finally finds some inspiration in the form of a quest, and that ends up petering out into meaninglessness. Yeah, this kid is going to be talking through emotional hand puppets for the rest of his life.
2. Hugo Cabret (Hugo)
If you’re a homeless orphan living in a train station trying desperately to repair a primitive C-3PO in the hopes it’ll write out a message from your dead dad, things are not going well in your life. In fact, you can almost certainly say that your life would be 150% better had your father not been burned alive in a museum fire. Helping Georges Melies rediscover his love of movies does not replace a piggy back from your old man.
1. Edward Scissorhands (Edward Scissorhands)
Everyone else on this list: “Waaah, my daddy left me without ever teaching me to ride a bike or giving me my first beer. Waaah.” Edward: “Oh, yeah? My father left me WITHOUT GIVING ME ANY FUCKING HANDS. Yeah, he left me walking around looking like a voodoo doll someone made of Robert Smith. So tell me another one.”