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Vernon Coby

Vernon Coby is a former film critic and current dad enthusiast from East Lansing, Michigan. His favorite movie dad is John McClane in Die Hard. His least favorite movie dad is John McClane in Die Hard 5.

DAD GRADES: Vito Corleone, The Godfather

This week in Dad Grades, we look at the pros and cons of being raised by Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather. Is he a good dad? Give us your take in the comments!

Pro: Can afford to leave a lot of money under your pillow if you lose a tooth

Con: Might mistakenly leave a horse head out of habit

Pro: Owns the country’s largest olive oil importing company

Con: Will probably let the organized crime syndicate thing slip a few times during Career Day

Pro: Has the ability to make offers no one can refuse

Con: Your curfew negotiations as a teenager are now pretty one-sided

Pro: Throws you and your siblings beautiful, lavish weddings

Con: Wedding DJ only has a depressing pizzicato string cover of “Don’t Stop Believin’”

Pro: You’re part of a big, tight-knit family

Con: Heated Thanksgiving dinner political arguments, now with guns

Final Dad Grade: B+

Dad Grades: Mufasa – The Lion King

(Buena Vista Pictures)

In this edition of Dad Grades, we examine the pros and cons of having Mufasa from The Lion King as a dad. Let’s dive right in!

Pro: Choreographs a musical number on the morning of your birth

Con: One of those dads who just HAS to show everyone his newborn

Pro Has the same voice as Darth Vader

Con: Being threatened with punishment just became 1000x more terrifying

Pro: Always provides food for his family

Con: Ugh, antelope again

Pro: Tells you you’ll someday be the king

Con: Makes you feel bad by dying immediately after you sing a song about how you can’t wait

Pro: Appears to you as a sky ghost to impart fatherly advice

Con: Rudely shows up on the night you lose your virginity


Mufasa’s Final Dad Grade: A-

Dad Grades: Bryan Mills – Taken

(20th Century Fox)

This week in Dad Grades, we analyze the particular set of parenting skills possessed by Bryan Mills, the dad from the Taken trilogy, played by the incomparable Liam Neeson.

Is Bryan Mills a good dad? Let us know what you think and drop your grade in the comments!

Pro: You get to tell your friends your dad is a retired CIA operative.

Con: You’ll sound like a 5th grader bragging how your dad can beat up their dad every time you do.

Pro: Not a helicopter parent.

Con: Will probably endanger you at some point with a literal helicopter.

Pro: Calls to check in on you.

Con: Will NOT let you hang up.

Pro: Has a very particular set of skills.

Con: Grilling, unfortunately, not one of them.

Pro: Will have plenty of stories to regale any potential grandchildren with.

Con: Most stories contain a man being bludgeoned to death with PVC pipe.

 

Bryan Mills’s Final Dad Grade: B+

 

Dad Grades: Peter McCallister – Home Alone

(20th Century Fox)

In this edition of Dad Grades, we take a long, hard look at one of cinema’s worst dads: Peter McCallister from the 1991 holiday classic Home Alone, portrayed by the late, great John Herd.

Home Alone is a harrowing tale about the far-reaching consequences of unauthoritative parenting, paint can physics, and pre-TSA- checkpoint air travel. In the movie, 8-year- old Kevin McCallister must thwart two bumbling thieves after he is mistakenly left behind in the suburbs of Chicago while his family vacations in Paris.

Any dad seeking to empathize with the patriarch of the McCallister family must do so with a necessary suspension of disbelief.

“Well, there’s no way I’d accidentally leave my child home alone.”

Look, I think we can all agree the whole foolishly abandoning your kid in one of America’s most intrinsically violent major cities thing is, by every conceivable metric, a lasting blemish on your parenting record. But no. I’m not talking about that.

If you’re looking to explore Peter’s inadequacies as a father, look no further than the first act.

First, a burglar enters the McCallister domicile, unnoticed, disguised quite skillfully as a police officer. The McCallister kids ignore the cop lingering in their foyer in lieu of more important matters at hand, like misplaced sunblock, displaying a complete and utter lack of respect for authority.

(20th Century Fox)

He gets nothing. Not a “hello.” Not a “may I help you?” Not even a “the 4th amendment clearly states you cannot legally enter this house without a signed search warrant.” Peter McCallister has what seems to be a bafflingly lenient open-door policy. Strike one for Peter.

Eventually, the pizza guy shows up. Now Peter has two strange men idling in his foyer while his children run about unsupervised.

(20th Century Fox)

At last, Peter comes downstairs. Ignoring the pizza delivery guy, he chats briefly with the cop, assuring him their automatic light timers will deter any foreseeable holiday burglaries. Spoiler alert: they don’t.

Buzz, Peter’s oldest son, enters. “C’mon dad,” he says. “Let’s eat.”

(20th Century Fox)

And just like that, he leaves. There is an officer of the law in his foyer. There is a delivery gu who has yet to receive payment of $122.50 in his foyer. But pizza, I guess. Strike two.

Next, Kevin finds out his family has already eaten all the plain cheese pizza. Instead of simply picking olives off of a less than ideal slice, he viciously attacks his brother Buzz, tackling him into a bunch of red Solo cups filled with… milk.

(20th Century Fox)

That’s right. Milk. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a drink less complementary to pizza than milk. Seriously? Milk? One possibility is that the film’s screenwriter, the legendary John Hughes, has never in his life actually eaten pizza. As a notoriously proud Chicagoan, this is highly improbable.

It’s far more likely that this bewildering drink preference among the McCallisters is somehow Peter’s fault. “Hop in the van, kids,” I imagine him saying. “We’re all going downtown for some Chicago deep dish and a nice, savory round of milk.” Absolutely revolting. Strike three, Pete.

The Good: Peter and his children share very little screentime together. But even though he does unforgivable things, like serving milk with pizza, he does show genuine concern once it becomes clear that Kevin has been left behind. For that, I applaud him.

The Bad: No, seriously. Milk? That’s a slippery slope, pal. First your kids are drinking milk with pizza and then, before you know it, they’re ordering coffee with a cheeseburger. Wasn’t Fuller, the bedwetter, drinking Pepsi? Just give everyone Pepsi, dude. Milk. Jesus Christ. You’ve got to be kidding me. Milk.

The Verdict: Peter McCallister is a textbook example of bad parenting. Need more proof? Revisit the final scene where the whole family comes home to Kevin. Peter asks Kevin what he did while they were gone. Kevin responds, “Just hung around.” The family shares a hearty chuckle and then everybody just… leaves. Peter just walks away from his almost definitely traumatized 8-year- old. Just ends the conversation and walks away like he’s a cop or something.

Peter McCallister’s Final Dad Grade: D-

Dad Grades: Daniel Hillard – Mrs. Doubtfire

(20th Century Fox)

The 1994 blockbuster hit Mrs. Doubtfire is, at its core, a meditation on the difficulties of being a dad. More accurately, a meditation on the difficulties of rubber bodysuits.

The late, great Robin Williams stars Daniel Hillard, an out-of-work cartoon voice actor. Daniel is a father of three at the outset of a divorce with his workaholic wife, Miranda, portrayed by Sally Field. What, you ask, brought about this divorce? The best birthday party in the history of San Francisco, that’s what.

(20h Century Fox)

After the world’s lamest neighbor files a noise complaint, Miranda races home to find sparsely supervised anarchy grinding its dirty heels into her furniture. The logistics of this party, in retrospect, make little, if any sense. Daniel’s son, Chris, has just turned 12, yet every kid at this party appears to be in elementary school. Daniel also appears to be the only adult in attendance. It’s utter mayhem.

Miranda promptly files for divorce from Daniel, who then goes to stay with his brother. At their court hearing, a judge pledges to grant Daniel joint custody if he is able to secure a job and apartment. A fair ruling, given how notoriously inexpensive it is to live alone in San Francisco.

When Miranda tells Daniel she’s currently looking for a housekeeper, Daniel does what any of us would do in that situation: cloaks himself in makeup and prosthetics to assume the identity of an elderly Scottish nanny so he can see his kids. Sounds crazy, but, keep in mind, this was still some 17 years before the advent of FaceTime.

(20h Century Fox)

Daniel lands the housekeeping gig and keeps house to the pure oblivion of his inattentive ex-
wife and children. Miranda, meanwhile, falls head-over-heels for a pre-James Bond Pierce
Brosnan, much to the dismay of a quietly wistful Daniel.

(20h Century Fox)

His jealousy is understandable. Sure, Pierce Brosnan’s character has an impossibly alluring smile, chiseled, sultry facial features, a fiercely suave demeanor, and the keys to a Mercedes-Benz. But Daniel Hillard can do a Porky Pig impression. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that all that matters?

Daniel’s children eventually catch onto him after one of them catches Mrs. Doubtfire peeing while standing up. They panic and threaten her with a tennis racket, because it was 1993.

(20h Century Fox)

My, how far we’ve come!

Anyway, Daniel’s ruse comes to a head when one night at a five-star restaurant he attempts to alternate covertly between a TV pitch meeting, dressed as himself, and Miranda’s birthday dinner, dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire. The evening, as expected, goes horribly awry, since the Hillards appear to be damned with what I can only assume is some sort of Family Birthday Curse.

Seriously, why is this family virtually incapable of enjoying a birthday? First, Chris’s birthday serves as the catalyst for a divorce, and now this? What gives? What was his daughter Natalie’s last birthday party like? Did the magician have a massive, fatal stroke in the middle of a card trick? My guess: Probably.

(20h Century Fox)

The Good
Daniel has such a sweet, engaging relationship with his three children. They’re everything to him. He’s everything to them. His funny voices fuel them. They’re laughter fuels him. It’s an unconditional love of the highest mutuality. The sheer absurdity of the lengths to which he goes to ensure his kids maintain a prominent role in his day-to-day life should inspire every father who watches this.

The Bad
Sucks at cleaning.

(20h Century Fox)
(20h Century Fox)

It’s sweep THEN vacuum, dude.

Verdict
When it’s all said and done, Daniel Hillard goes above and beyond for his kids. His devotion is
truly remarkable. You’ll hear a lot of dads say self-congratulatory things like, “I would take a
bullet for my kid.” Yeah? Would you defy court orders by secretly leading a double life as their
vaguely-European babysitter? Oh, you would? Actually preferable to taking a bullet, you say?
Okay. Sorry. Carry on.

 

Daniel Hillard’s Final Dad Grade: A-

 

Dad Grades: Marlin – Finding Nemo

(Buena Vista Pictures)

In this edition of Dad Grades, we revisit the hilarious and touching Finding Nemo, Pixar’s 2003 meditation on fish fatherhood.

Finding Nemo takes place in the Great Barrier Reef, ostensibly one of Australia’s top 5 reefs, barrier or otherwise. The movie begins with Marlin, a worrisome clownfish, and his wife, Coral, looking at a quaint oceanview home they’ve just purchased, a cushiony five years before the subprime mortgage crisis.

(Buena Vista Pictures)

Although it’s never addressed directly, the opening dialogue suggests they were one of those obnoxious couples intent on “flipping” this place.

Marlin and Coral are first-time expecting parents, their eggs nestled safely in the anemone. A barracuda shows up and knocks Marlin unconscious. He awakens, disoriented, his wife nowhere to be found and all but one egg missing. He names the surviving fish Nemo.

(Buena Vista Pictures)

This unspeakable tragedy sets the tone for Marlin’s character: an overprotective helicopter parent, a trait at its most evident when he panickedly follows Nemo on a school field trip. Nemo defiantly swims towards a boat and is abducted by a scuba diver. Marlin is now tasked with finding Nemo, just as the title suggests.

(Buena Vista Pictures)

Along for the ride is Dory, a blue tang fish with severe short-term memory loss voiced by Ellen Degeneres. The two traverse the open seas, thwarting carnivorous foes and befriending 150-year-old sea turtles as they make their way to the Sydney Harbor, never losing sight of their objective: drumming up sequel anticipation that will ultimately yield $1 billion in ticket sales thirteen years later. Though we see little interaction between Marlin and Nemo, we learn a lot about him as a dad.

The Good

Marlin is a very watchful guardian, as illustrated in the first few scenes. His overprotective demeanor is portrayed, quite inexplicably, as a character flaw. But, I mean, have you LOOKED in the ocean?

Look at that thing. What the HELL is that?

Marlin is fully aware of these seemingly omnipresent dangers, and that’s why he keeps a cautious, attentive eye on his only child. If anything, he’s not protective enough. If your child ran the risk of bumping into this sort of grotesque evolutionary atrocity every time they left the house, you’d send them to school in one of those big plastic bubbles. Just kidding. You’d homeschool them. And you’d teach them every animal except that one.

The Bad

It’s never stated how much time passes between the death of Marlin’s wife and the abduction of Nemo, but I’m fairly certain it was enough time for him to find Nemo a stepmom. Being a single parent is difficult enough on land, where there aren’t fish with sarlacc pits for mouths.

We’re all sorry for your loss, Marlin, but it’s time to move forward. As the old saying goes: There are plenty of fish in the sea who look exactly like you, if you’re into that sort of thing.

(Buena Vista Pictures)

The Verdict

No, really, what in God’s name is going on here?

(Wikipedia/Anglerfish)

Have we all just accepted that this thing exists? Are we doing anything to stop them? Because we are so unbelievably screwed if this thing evolves legs. I’m going to assume that, somewhere, a legislative body of sorts is working tirelessly around the clock on a bill that would effectively eradicate this cruel prank of a creature from our beautiful oceans. Good lord. It looks like the snake from Beetlejuice.

(Warner Bros.)

Marlin’s Final Dad Grade: A-

 

Dad Grades: Daniel O’Shea – Little Giants

(Warner Bros. Family Entertainment)

With the biggest day in football just around the corner, we’ve decided to take a look back at one of our favorite football movie dads, Rick Moranis in Little Giants. Whoa. Did you feel that? Did you feel something when I said the name Rick Moranis? Strap in.

(Warner Bros. Family Entertainment)

Meet the O’Shea brothers. Kevin, left, portrayed by Ed O’Neill, is a hometown hero in Urbania, Ohio. He’s a Heisman Trophy recipient, a Chevy dealership owner, and an all-around crummy big brother to Danny, played by Rick Moranis. Whoa. There it was again. It’s like a modern “cellar door.”

Danny runs a local gas station and has lived meekly in his brother’s shadow since childhood. He’s the single parent of Becky, aka “Icebox,” presumably the first crush of every young boy who wished Topanga Lawrence could beat them up. Icebox tries out for the Cowboys, a local pee-wee football team coached by her decidedly sexist uncle. When Kevin denies her a spot on the roster, she mobilizes a ragtag squad of prepubescent outcasts to form their own team.

(Warner Bros. Family Entertainment)

With the team assembled, Icebox and her pals are ready to take on Kevin O’Shea’s Cowboys and prove, once and for all that through discipline, teamwork, and– hey, wait a minute! They still need a coach! But who can possibly tame this rambunctious pack of mouthy social rejects? Who will be their Buttermaker? Their Gordon Bombay? What man has the diligence and determination to turn this troop of timid, unathletic picked-lasts into winners? Who could possibly lead this band of slackers, miscreants, and ne’er-do-wells to victory?

THAT’S RIGHT, BABY. IT’S MORANIS TIME.

(Warner Bros. Family Entertainment)

Danny and Kevin wager a bet: One playoff game, Giants vs. Cowboys, winner remains the sole pee-wee football team in Urbania. Personally, I think this is how the Super Bowl should work. Each year, the losing team should have to disband until we ultimately have just one NFL team, at which point we’ll finally have an answer to the question: Can the Patriots cheat against themselves?

Meanwhile, shy, awkward Danny falls for Patty, a childhood crush who happens to be the mother of his cannon-armed quarterback, Junior, who Icebox quickly develops a crush on.

(Warner Bros. Family Entertainment)

The logistics of these co-existing romantic endeavors’ future is never discussed. What if Danny and Patty get married? Does Icebox continue dating her stepbrother? That’s weird, right? What happens if Icebox and Junior call it quits? What’s that Thanksgiving like? Movies are weird.

Anyway, it’s now gameday. Icebox quits the team to become a cheerleader in an attempt to woo Junior, as per the suggestion of her terrible uncle. Danny is fine with this; her teammates are not. Kevin, having deviously thwarted an inexorable ass-kicking at the hands of his lovestruck niece, raises the stakes: his Chevrolet dealership, Danny’s gas station, winner takes all.

(Warner Bros. Family Entertainment)

The Giants get crushed in the first half. Icebox throws down her pom-poms and returns to the field. The Giants give it their all, close in on the Cowboys, and ultimately execute a Fumblerooski trick play to pull out a 99-yard game-winning touchdown. Everyone kisses. Danny has, at last, earned the respect of his awful, annoying brother. It’s a truly magnificent third act.

The Good
For most of the movie, what we see of Danny’s relationship with his daughter is largely of the coach/player nature. We see he’s exercised fairly permissive parenting since the death of Icebox’s mom, but little else is known. The fact Danny is so eagerly willing to put his dignity (and ultimately, his gas station) on the line just so his daughter and her friends can play football demonstrates that he’s not just a praiseworthy single parent, but an awesome friend-dad. Remember that childhood friend with the awesome dad? That’s Danny O’Shea.

The Bad
I have no problems whatsoever with the character of Danny O’Shea, but Rick Moranis quit acting three years after this film’s release. If you’re reading this, please come back, Rick. We need you. We’re sorry for replacing you with Stephen Baldwin in that Flintstones sequel. We truly are.

The Verdict
Little Giants is a master class in how to not live vicariously through your children. Some of your kids will want to play football. Others will want to become cheerleaders. Some will take a liking to the guitar. Others will paint. It’s important to remember that your kid is their own person. Danny O’Shea understands this. The movie’s most tender moment occurs the night before the big game when he places a cheerleading outfit on the vanity in his star fullback’s bedroom.

(Warner Bros. Family Entertainment)

No, YOU’RE crying.

Daniel O’Shea’s Dad Grade: A-

Black Mirror For Dads

 

For the uninitiated, Black Mirror is a brilliant anthology TV series that satirizes modern society by depicting alternate realities in which new, often invasive technologies act unpredictably, typically to great consequence. The show, which just wrapped up its fourth season, sets out to answer such pressing questions as “What if you could upload your consciousness to an afterlife of your choosing?” and “What if you could dole out social media ‘likes’ in real life?”

Here are three episodes geared specifically towards dads that we’d like to see in season 5.

“Noise” – Tech giant PapaCorp has just unveiled its newest innovation: an implanted earpiece capable of taking any Disney song you’re currently hearing and instantaneously converting it into the band of your choice. Our protagonist, Richard, purchases a pair following his young daughter’s eighteenth viewing of Aladdin. It works! The Aladdin soundtrack transforms flawlessly into Weezer’s Pinkerton. Unfortunately, Disney acquires Marvel one year later. The episode ends with Richard shedding a single remorseful tear as he watches Iron Man fight Ivan Vanko to the sounds of “My Name Is Jonas.”

(Unsplash/Nick Shuliahin)

“Hood” – A revolutionary smart car called the Ørsted hits the market. Ørsted owner, Michael, pops the hood at his son’s 4th birthday party. Naturally, Michael and the other dads coalesce around the car to take a long, thorough gander at the exposed inner workings of this mysterious car. The audience is never shown what’s under this hood. Michael and his fellow dads, however, are deeply perplexed by it. They’re paralyzed, incapable of looking away, powerless against its bewildering intricacy. The party ends and everyone leaves. The dads do not. They remain, beers at chest-level, fully captivated by the baffling, undisclosed contents of this vehicle’s engine compartment. Weeks pass. Still standing, still looking. The dads are one by one served with divorce papers before ultimately starving to death.

(Getty/Saul Loeb)

“Debra” – First, we had Siri. Then along came Alexa. Now, introducing Debra, the first smart speaker designed for non-confrontational, indecisive dads. “Go ask your mom” only works if mom is home. Now you can simply instruct your child to “go ask Debra.” In this episode, our hero, Patrick, purchases one. While his wife works a double, Patrick’s teenage son, Josh, asks if it’s okay to spend the night at his friend Dylan’s. “Go ask Debra,” he says. Josh does just that. “Dylan Spradling,” the disembodied voice of Debra responds. “822 Palumbo Street. Parents, James and Lydia Spradling. Scanning Facebook. Alcohol use identified in recent photo. You may not go to Dylan’s.” Patrick smirks, blameless. The narrative functions as frank, biting commentary on the detrimental risks of passive parenting. This lax, permissive approach to parenting often leads to deficiencies in both emotional intelligence and self-discipline, conciliatory justifications of the child’s misbehavior, and, in some cases, complete disengagement. The episode ends with Patrick having sex with the speaker.

 

 

Dad Grades: Jack Torrance – The Shining

(Warner Bros.)

This week in Dad Grades, we take a closer look at Jack Torrance, the axe-wielding patriarch in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining.

As the films opens, we see Jack (skillfully brought to life by Jack Nicholson) as he’s driving his family to the Overlook Hotel. An impressive feat in and of itself, considering Jack was still three decades away from an iPad he could shove in his son Danny’s face for the duration of the trip.

(Warner Bros.)

One can only assume that, had there been a second kid in the backseat, Jack may have snapped almost immediately, veering the family Volkswagen off the side of the mountain and effectively ending the movie with a total runtime of four minutes.

More observant viewers will notice that Danny is not wearing a seatbelt in this scene. Despite the good example Jack is setting, his is textbook child endangerment.

They arrive at the Overlook Hotel and settle in. One month later, Jack endures a wholly occupying case of writer’s block as Danny leaves his toys everywhere.

(Warner Bros.)

Some film historians speculate that, in the original script, Jack was supposed to step on one of these toy cars while barefoot, bringing us right to the moment where he decides to start swinging a firefighter’s axe at everybody.

True King-heads, however, know the real inciting incident that drove Jack to madness was this:

(Warner Bros.)

A toy bus in the arch of your shoeless foot is one thing. Lipstick on the door is another. Danny doesn’t even attempt to soften the brunt of his inevitable punishment by drawing something cool. No. Instead, he just ruins his tired mom’s evening, who wakes up and begins screaming for one of two reasons: 1) it was some $90 Sephora lipstick, or 2) her child is exhibiting signs of severe dyslexia. Nobody knows for sure.

At this point, Jack begins chasing his family with an axe. This collection of scenes brings light to Jack’s biggest flaw as patriarch of the Torrances: the inability to respect bathroom privacy.

(Warner Bros.)

Among Jack Torrance’s long list of fatherly foibles, this one is the most irritating. The bathroom should be a space of tranquility and reflection. Jack does not seem to understand this, as he determinedly hacks open the bathroom with his axe, pokes his manic face in, and delivers the film’s most iconic line:

(Warner Bros.)

Unbelievably rude.

Jack eventually falls victim to the bitter cold and freezes to death in a hedge maze.

(Warner Bros.)

At the end of the day, Jack Torrance is an adequate dad. Not all dads make the time to take their families on road trips to haunted hotels built on Native American burial ground. Jack Torrance did. He obviously needs improvement in terms of disciplinary skills, though. Remember, no woodchopping implement is quite as effective as being grounded for a weekend in their room with no TV or video games. Don’t ground them for too long though. Prolonged isolation can drive someone mad. I saw it in a movie once –  I forget the title.

Some people will probably say, “I strongly disagree, Vernon. When it comes to fatherhood, I think Jack Torrance is quite clearly a novice.”

And to those people I say: the word you’re thinking of is novelist.

Jack Torrance is a novelist. Idiot.

Jack Torrance’s Dad Grade: B-

Dad Grades: Clark Griswold – Vacation

(Warner Bros.)

Walley World.

The mere mention of those words should strike a resounding unease into the heart of every family man. Every station wagon owner. Every father who could never, in good conscience, “turn this car around.”

In 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation, Walley World is the fictitious amusement park that serves as the Griswold family’s Mordor: more purpose than destination. To quote the head of the Griswold fellowship himself, “This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest.”

(Warner Bros.)

The premise is simple: Clark (Chevy Chase), patriarch of the Griswolds, is determined to take his wife and two kids to the aforementioned Walley World, a Disneyland counterfeit whose mascot is an anthropomorphic moose. Instead of simply boarding a no-hassle, TSA-free flight from Chicago to California, Clark insists on loading up the station wagon and embarking on a cross-country expedition chock-full of mild infidelities and homemade sandwiches soaked in dog piss.

(Warner Bros.)

Throughout the film, Clark wavers between all-American father figure and erratic psychopath. One minute he’s treating his family to the majesty and awe-inspiring grandeur of one of our most beloved national parks.

(Warner Bros.)

The next minute he’s fastening the corpse of his wife’s aunt to the top of the car.

(Warner Bros.)

You know. Dad stuff. 

Ultimately they arrive at Walley World, only to find out that it’s closed down for summer repairs. Clark, tired and defeated, looks within. He realizes that, maybe, life really is more about the journey than the destination. “Perhaps,” he affirms, “the ‘vacation’ was inside each of us all along.” The Griswolds hug and load back into the Griswold Family Truckster for a lengthy, retrospective voyage back to the windy city.

(Warner Bros.)

Just kidding. He haymakers a moose statue and then takes a security guard hostage.

(Warner Bros.)

The Good

Clark exhibits a lot of textbook dad behavior throughout the trip, the film’s premise being, in and of itself, inherently paternal. There’s really nothing more “dad” than stringing your family along for a trip no one but you really wants to partake in. We’re also treated to a handful of touching, fatherly moments between Clark and his son, Russ, including one scene where he hands down life advice over Russ’ first beer.

(Warner Bros.)

Look at ‘em. So happy. Completely oblivious to the fact they’re still some three decades away from a Cubs World Series championship.

The Bad

Did we mention the “takes a security guard hostage” thing? Because he totally does that. Really. False imprisonment of a hostage being a 3rd-degree felony punishable by up to eight years in prison under California Penal Code. I mean, look at this:

(Warner Bros.)

Jesus. There’s probably a bench warrant out for your arrest involving abuse of a corpse, dude. Let’s maybe dial it back a bit.

Verdict

When it’s all said and done, Clark W. Griswold is a good dad. Maybe not the dad you’d select to spearhead a 2,000-mile family road trip, but definitely the dad you want harassing an umpire from the bleachers of your little league baseball game.

He’s not perfect, but who among us can say their dad didn’t, at some point during their childhood, put their life in immediate danger for one fleeting moment of reciprocated flirting with Christie Brinkley?

(Warner Bros.)

That’s what I thought.

Clark Griswold’s Dad Grade: C+