Every Christmas season, we all find ourselves getting into the Christmas spirit by decorating the house, listening to Christmas music, going on a tree hunt, shopping for gifts, and of course, sitting down to watch our favorite Christmas movies. Some enjoy Hallmark movies, others like the classics, but the late 80's and early 90's Christmas movies are the ones that we enjoy most. Having said that, we need to have a serious conversation about how Dads are portrayed in these movies! Granted, most movies in that era kind of shit on Dads anyway, but some of these guys are real pieces of work! Whatever... makes for good entertainment, and gives us an excuse to talk about them. Here are our best, and worst, Christmas Dads:
#5 Peter McCallister
The worst has to be Peter McCallister. Look, we get it; it is tough running a household with five kids, not to mention he is also taking care of his brother's four kids during his transition to Paris in the first movie, at least. Plus having to deal with his brother Frank and his family. No one knows what Peter does for a living; however, judging by the house that he owns and paying for the flights of 18 family members every Christmas, we assume it's some essential high paying job.
All of this being said, his financial contribution to his family doesn't excuse him from being the worst Christmas movie Dad. After forgetting his Son at home while the family travels to Paris just one year prior, you would think that Kevin would be on a leash every time the family traveled or they would at least do a headcount while boarding the plane. But no... his youngest manages to board the wrong plane to spend some time alone in New York!
Another issue with Peter McCallister is how he is willing to just leave his wife at the airport alone to catch a flight home from Paris. (Or eventually just hitching a ride with a polka band... even though John Candy is LEGEND). There were plenty of adults in Paris... he should have stayed with her at the airport, which would probably be much better than sitting around watching French dubbed Christmas movies in a small apartment with 14 kids. Even worse is when he allows her to search the streets of New York City by herself. Theres a discussion about it, but eventually he heads back to what might be the nicest hotel room we've ever seen to put his feet up and have a nightcap. Theres no way were not insisting to at least go together if not leave her at the hotel and go out and look ourselves.
#4 Scott Calvin
We have mixed feelings about Scott; he seems like a shitty Dad (he is), then he seemingly "totally redeems himself"... but does he?
The movie begins with Scott at his work Christmas party, where he was honored for heading up the sales and distribution team responsible for the toy companies best year. Meanwhile, his ex-wife Laura, her new husband Neil, and their Son Charlie, wait in front of Scott's home. Running late (traffic?), Calvin rushes home to spend the night and morning with his Son. Wait! How shitty is this shared custody? Laura drops the kid off at six o'clock pm on Christmas Eve and then comes to pick him up first thing Christmas morning?
Anyway, later, Scott attempts to make a lovely Christmas eve diner, he ends up burning the turkey, so they head to Denny's to spend time with the other caricatures of dead beat Dads. After dinner, Scott and Charlie go home and Scott reads the classic "Twas The Night Before Christmas". Charlie begins to doze off, and Scott pulls the old skipping lines and pages and rushes to the end so he can sneak out of the room.
So, shitty Dad Scott then kills Santa. His roof, his responsibility right? Then he takes his kid up on said roof that Santa just fell off of to his death (OK, seems safe... prob fine?). Scott now becomes Santa after reluctantly putting on the suit. Now the transformation begins as he understands what Christmas is about and the responsibility he has. Charlie turns 180 degrees and thinks his Dad is the coolest now (what kid wouldn't?).
Court battles and arrests and a kidnapping happen... but here's the thing. Scott is no better in the end! Instead of focusing on his toy sales job, he now has no time for his kid because millions of other kids around the world need him. So Charlie gets screwed out of time with his Dad again! Yeah, he takes him for a ride in the sleigh (see: kidnapping), but he basically shoves him back to his Mom and goes off to work. Does he make some positive changes? Sure... but he's far from a good Dad as evidenced by Charlies delinquent behavior in number 2.
#3 Walter Hobbs
Right in the middle of our list is Walter Hobbs, a successful New York businessman at the Greenway Publishing Company. He's Buddy the Elf's Dad, and while it seems suspect that he could allow his kid to climb aboard Santa's sleigh as an infant, it probably says more about his Mom since Walter didn't even know he had a kid at that point. Give him a pass on that one...
Years later Buddy finally figures out that he's not like the other elves at the North Pole, and decides to embark on a quest to go find his Dad. He makes it to New York and surprises Walter, who immediately writes him off as a nut job, which is actually fair given the circumstances. Buddy doesn't give up, and through a gift of lingerie and a picture of Walter and Buddy's mom, gets him thinking. Then, he gets a call that Buddy is in jail.
Walter could have ended it right there, focused on his work and his family. Instead, he bails him out of jail. Granted, he goes to his pediatrician to get a DNA test (what's up with that?)... but the results are in and HE IS THE FATHER! Walter reluctantly brings him home to meet his family and assumes he's insane and needs to figure out how to help him, if that's possible.
During a meeting at work on Christmas Eve Buddy comes in and embarrasses Walter and ruins the meeting. Walter has had enough and throws him out in the cold, writing off any responsibility. Dick move, but how can this really be happening? He's tried, and this just isn't going to work. Buddy then has to play a vital role in restoring the Christmas Spirit so that Santa can continue to deliver presents.
By mouthing, and then eventually singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" in Central Park, Walter puts the Christmas Spirit over the top and saves the day! Next Christmas, he's clearly a better person, and even starts his own publishing company that isn't so greedy. Granted, we don't know if Buddy gets a cut since he publishes the story of Elf, but hey... no ones perfect.
#2 John McClane
OK first off... Die Hard is a Christmas movie.
Detective John McClane is stuck at a Christmas party when the evil Hans Gruber and his terrorists take over the building. The entire badass action movie is centered around one thing... reconciling with his family for Christmas. What other Dad is going to mow down terrorists to do that? He even makes several witty Christmas themed burns while doing so! (See: Now I have a Machine Gun HO HO HO).
Sure... he's been away from his family. The stress of being a New York detective resulted in marital issues and being away from his kids. Thats the life right? He's still making the trip to see them around the Holidays, when he could be at home enjoying a desk pour of cheap whiskey.
Add in the fact that he's got this relationship with his LA Cop buddy Al. They consistently showcase "goodwill towards men" (as long as you're not a terrorist). But seriously... Al helps John realize the importance of reconnecting with his family and stopping at nothing to make that happen.
Yippie-ki-yay! Detective John McClane is one badass Christmas Movie Dad!
#1 Clark Griswold
Clark tops our list as the best Christmas movie Dad of all time. He is someone all Dads can relate to. He is a hard-working businessman, who takes pride in his house and his Christmas decorations. He loves his family dearly, and wants nothing more than to have the "hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f***ing Kaye!"
Clark's Christmas spirit is never shake while dealing with your everyday issues at work, home, and having to deal with his shitty neighbors. His parents and in-laws were spending half of December at the house. Plus his cousin-in-law Eddy shows up unannounced with his family, dog, and RV.
Clark tries his absolute best to make everything perfect for his family's Christmas, but the continued stress of receiving his yearly Christmas bonus keeps building. He depends on it to cover the advanced payment he made for the new family pool. Things begin to spiral out of control on Christmas eve, due to a list of terrible events causing Clark to lose his shit, therefore leading his family to call this Christmas a wash. They decide it would be better for everyone to leave. He rallies the family around the new Christmas tree that replaced the one Uncle Lewis burnt down. And reads everyone The Night Before Christmas; moments later, cousin Eddy shows up with Mr. Shirley, the cheapskate boss who cut Christmas bonuses this year. Earlier in the night, during Clark's meltdown, he mentions a last-minute gift idea for him. It would be his boss with a big ribbon on his head so he could tell him what a piece of shit he is.
Eddie came through. Mr. Shirley tells Clark that he will reinstate the Christmas bonus and give him 20% more than he got last year. The movie ends on a great note, a clear classic. He did everything he could to make the holiday special. Sure this guy lost his shit when things went awry. Who wouldn't? He may have cared a little too much about the Christmas bonus, but he really never lost sight of the most important thing on Christmas: his family being together.
OK that's our list. It's not comprehensive by any means, but these are the Christmas movie Dads that came to mind. Let us know what you think! Merry Christmas!!!