/Answers: Our Favorite Movie And TV Parents

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Every week in /Answers, we attempt to answer a new pop culture-related question. This week's edition, tying in with this weekend's Snatched and last weekend's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, asks "Who are your favorite film or television parents?" As always, we have submissions from the /Film writing crew and podcast team.

If you'd like to share your favorite mothers and fathers from the movies of TV, please send your thoughts to slashfilmpitches@gmail.com for a chance to be featured on the site. Find our choices below!

Hoai-Train Bui: Arthur and Molly Weasley (The Harry Potter Movies)

I grew up reading the Harry Potter books, so it makes sense that, like Harry, I would grow up thinking of Arthur and Molly Weasley as surrogate parents. Immediately welcoming Harry into the fold of their seven-children family, the Weasleys looked after the orphaned and abused Harry like no one else had before. They made him custom sweaters, they gladly received him when their sons stole their car to rescue him from the Dursleys' house arrest (after berating their own kids first), and they firmly stood by his side through the uncertainty and tragedy of war.

The only flaws that Arthur and Molly probably had were that there were none — just a series of quirks that made them all the more lovable. They were overprotective to be sure, which frustrated Harry, Ron, Fred and George to no end, but what parent wouldn't be in the face of a murderous dark wizard? It may be too that we only knew them through Harry's perspective, and so they would only ever be the warm, loving parents who took on to much at their own expense — with the occasional badass moment (Molly's "Not my daughter, you bitch" will go down in cinematic history).

But we're here to talk movies, and thankfully both Mark Williams and Julie Walters flesh out the roles marvelously. Williams sometimes leaned too hard into Arthur's frumpy oaf personality and Walters' cheeriness would get a bit shrill, but they brought the characters to life in a way that only improved upon their counterparts on the page.

Christopher Stipp: Bob and Helen Parr (The Incredibles)

About six months before Christian Bale showed us how dark and deep the rabbit hole went with his parental issues and ushered in a new era of moody superheroes, we got a family with their own set of issues. It was The Incredibles and the family, headed by patriarch Bob and matriarch Helen, still stand as the quintessential parents I admire most in all of moviedom.

Two of the things that makes them stand apart from the rest of the responsible adults with kids depicted in movies is just how ordinary their lives were, with Bob living a life of excruciating blandness, and just how much they cared about their family. Their fighting about the mundanity of their existence when they knew they were capable of so much more was balanced with that very real concern for their family's welfare. The movie's action and risks are so much more impactful when you consider it's not just Helen and Bob whose lives are at stake, but it's their children's lives as well. The crescendo, which involves them working together to eventually stop the villainous Syndrome, plays a backseat to the greater story of how the Parr family functions as a unit and how it's not just the parents versus the kids or the kids knowing more than their parents (as you would see in so many other kiddo versions of the hero's journey).

This is a story of how a family is supposed to function when everyone works together. While everyone grows to understand how they can defeat a threat to a city's well-being, Bob and Helen are there to demonstrate what it means to be honest and to be true to yourself.

friday night lights

Peter Sciretta: Eric and Tami Taylor (Friday Night Lights)

There are no better parents in all of movies and television than Kyle Chandler's Eric Taylor and Connie Britton's Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights. Eric was the high school football coach in a Texas town where the game is considered to be above all else. Tami was a high school guidance counselor turned principal turned guidance counselor again, always struggling to be objective in her support of the children of a town sometimes gone mad.
They are the parents anyone and everyone would want to have. They are wholesome, but not without flaws, always trying to do the right thing and presenting the right example even when the world deals them shitty cards. Their loving, supportive relationship is almost too good, so much so that Buzzfeed once declared that they "ruined all other relationships" for anyone who watched the show. They were best friends and lovers, but also some of the most supportive parents you could ever find in fiction or non-fiction story.


Ben Pearson: George and Lorraine McFly (Back to the Future)

On the surface, Back to the Future might appear to be a story about the time traveling adventures of Doc and Marty, but it's really about the complete transformation of Crispin Glover's George McFly. A spineless, desperate kid who's constantly being taken advantage of by those around him, the sad man George becomes is essentially the same person he was in high school. But inspired by Marty's interference, George learns the empowering lesson of taking his density – I mean, his destiny – into his own hands and gets a second chance to stand up for himself.

In the first timeline, Lorraine Baines (Lea Thompson) marries George and becomes a repressed alcoholic. Yikes. But as Marty learns in his visit to 1955, the high school version of her is frank about sexuality in a way many female characters aren't even today. If you put aside the fact that she's constantly hitting on her own son (give her a break, she doesn't know!), she's a terrific character. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd get a ton of credit for this film working as well as it does, but I think Glover and Thompson are its not-so-secret MVPs.

Ethan Anderton: The Old Man and Mrs. Parker (A Christmas Story)

A big reason that A Christmas Story is such a revered holiday classic is because of its authentic portrayal of dysfunctional but ultimately loving Midwestern family. The movie captures all the ups and downs that the family experiences and doesn't try to hit you over the head with slapstick silliness or saccharine, tender moments like most holiday movies. A big part of that comes from how Ralphie and Randy's parents are portrayed in the movie.

Melinda Dillon and the late Darren McGavin play Ralphie's mother and father respectively, the latter referred to as "The Old Man" so much that even his action figure comes with that moniker (yes, there are A Christmas Story action figures). Even if you didn't grow up in the early 1940s, the Parkers both have traits that will remind anyone of their parents growing up. The way they bicker back and forth over silly things, the way they get on Ralphie and Randy's cases for doing typical kid stuff, the way they secretly get annoyed by something the other does without blowing up at them, these are things all of our parents have done at some point.

Mr. and Mrs. Parker both get moments where they're the parents you sometimes hated and feared, such as in the soap scene and the tire-changing scene. But we also see that no matter how much the children at odds with their parents, they were also loved, which is why Ralphie's mother doesn't tell The Old Man about him beating up Scut Farkus, and his father gets him the Red Ryder BB gun despite his mother's infamous claim that he'll shoot his eye out. They're the quintessential Midwestern parents, and I just love them.

Jacob Hall: Ray Ferrier (War of the Worlds) and Loy Colton (Near Dark)

Any psychologists in the audience will probably see my pick here and immediately start scribbling notes. After all, I'm using this space set aside for "favorite movie parents" to talk about War of the Worlds' Ray Ferrier, an unapologetic deadbeat dad who finds himself forced to protect his kids during an alien invasion and discovers that he's really not up to the task.

Allow me to get personal for a moment. When I first saw War of the Worlds in theaters on opening day in 2005, my palms starting sweating only a few minutes into the movie, long before the alien tripods arrived and started decimating humanity. My heart started beating faster as soon as we met Tom Cruise's Ray, the charming-but-immature father who doesn't know how to even talk to his son and daughter, who are dropped off by his ex-wife in the film's opening moments. Most "bad dads" in the movies are exaggerations, cartoon characters whose flaws exist only to be overcome over the course of a grand adventure, but not Ray. Cruise has always been a reliable onscreen presence, but this is one of his great unsung performances. This is a surprisingly nuanced portrait of a dad who doesn't give a shit and doesn't seem all that compelled to start anytime soon. His cruelties are casual and mundane, his poor parental choices the result of a boyish selfishness that he has failed to discard with age. I've never seen a more realistic deadbeat dad on screen and no film performance has ever given me such uncomfortable flashbacks to my own father, a man who clearly loved his children but had zero interest in being a father in any way, shape or form.

War of the Worlds, one of Steven Spielberg's most underrated movies, understands that an invasion from outer space isn't going instantly transform Ray into a good dad – it's only going to further highlight his deficiencies. You can totally see why Ray was married and why he had children. He's handsome. He's fun. He's sometimes very entertaining. But when things start to get very bad very quickly in War of the Worlds, he barely even rises to the occasion. His fathering never improves. It only becomes more desperate. It's telling that the movie ends with him leaving his kids with his ex-wife. Even after barely surviving an alien assault, he's not prepared to be a father.

For a brief counterbalance, I'll also throw in Loy Colton from Kathryn Bigelow's tremendous Near Dark, a father who seeks out his missing son, learns that he's joined a troupe of wandering vampire outlaws, and takes him back into his home, no questions asked, when things get truly dire. The film never lingers on this aspect of the character or makes a huge point of it, but it's always stuck with me – being a dad means curing your son of his vampirism and letting him recover in your home without judgment.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 - Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet

What do you think of our picks? Who are your favorite movie or TV parents?? Talk about it in the comments below or email your personal answer (a paragraph or more) to slashfilmpitches@gmail.com with the subject title "Movie or TV Parents." Our favorite responses will be featured on the site in a future post!

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