The dads of DreamWorks’ animated catalog range from amazing men to walking daddy issues.
Parents; whether they’re absent or present, neglectful or helicoptering, they have big impacts on their kids. In DreamWorks’s case, fathers have a better track record for being alive and for being more important than in quite a number of Disney films.
Still, that doesn’t mean that these men are paragons of fatherhood and virtue, as some of them are either flawed or simply terrible at their job. From Shrek to Kung Fu Panda, here’s a list checking out the best and the worst poppas from the production company’s filmography.
GREAT: Ozzie (Over The Hedge)
Ozzie is a pretty goofy father, and one who could be overenthusiastic with dropping life advice, but his shameless dorky tendencies were anything but malicious.
He’s a single father in a dangerous world with unfriendly humans left and right, and always put himself in harm’s way to buy distractions for his friends and his daughter, playing dead to buy time or get a distraction. He’s not just a good opossum, he’s a good father, filled with nuggets of wisdom, even if he’s a tad overdramatic.
HORRIBLE: King Harold (Shrek 2)
King Harold locked away his daughter in a tower guarded by a dragon, so right off the bat, that’s a no-no. But on top of that, Harold kept making mistake after mistake. He was rude to Shrek upon meeting him, tried to hire a mercenary to kill him (Puss in Boots), and even considered slipping Fionna a love potion to have her fall in love with Prince Charming.
He was a dishonest man who continually found himself making bad deals with bad people, and while he did earn himself redemption and was technically blackmailed, he could have just been open about his situation to find a solution.
GREAT: Stoick The Vast (How To Train Your Dragon 1 & 2)
Stoick the Vast was a pretty intense father to live in the shadow of. He was a seasoned warrior, the leader of a village, and a man of immense proportions with his body and voice. Although he was not initially supportive of Hiccup’s attempts to train the incredibly dangerous dragons (for good reason), he was able to understand his son eventually.
And even then, he found his end protecting his son from a hypnotized Toothless, who blasted him with his fire breath. The fact that he took the shot instead of attacking Toothless shows not just what a good parent would do for their child, but the fact that Stoick truly cared for Toothless and what he meant to Hiccup.
Shrek has a tendency to be easily dissuaded on his duties. Rather than fulfill his responsibilities, Shrek would usually find a loophole out of it… only for that loophole to cause him to go on a larger and more drawn out quest to undo the damage he’s done. From not wanting to put up with Fiona’s parents (Shrek 2) to trying to weasel out of being king (Shrek the Third), Shrek has a habit of instigation.
The worst example of this was in Shrek Forever After, which starts by showing Shrek getting frustrated at his kids’ birthday party and exploding at the guests, leading to him wishing he could go back to his bachelor lifestyle as a mean ogre in his swamp. He kind of got his wish, but he almost ruined everyone’s lives around him in doing so. Shrek then spends the rest of the movie trying to fix his mistake.
GREAT: Li Shan (Kung Fu Panda 3)
Li Shan is Po’s biological father, who lost his son during the attack on the pandas led by Lord Shen, as seen in the flashback sequences of Kung Fu Panda 2. Both Po and his father presume the other is dead, but Li gets a message from the universe telling him otherwise, and tracks down Po.
Upon their reunion in Kung Fu Panda 3, he is overjoyed to see Po again, and fills him in on what he missed out. And in an even more refreshing change of pace from the usual tropes, he’s actually grateful to Mr. Ping (Po’s adoptive father) for raising Po and holds no friction or tension towards him. Although he misleads Po on being able to teach him secrets of chi, he makes up for it quickly and leads their village into saving Po in the movie’s climactic battle.
HORRIBLE: Don Lino (Shark Tale)
Don Lino is the sort of shark that wants to lead his son in a life of crime, which is pretty bad to begin with. But even then, he’s obviously playing favorites between Lenny and his older brother Frankie. In this contest, Lenny is the loser for his father’s approval and love.
Don Lino berates Lenny, doesn’t let him live his life, and is the head of the underwater mafia, so the good side of Don Lino doesn’t really make up for the bad side.
GREAT: Zuba (Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa)
Alex’s father thought he had lost his son to poachers, and chased them down as best he could, even sustaining a shot to the face, which left a scar in his ear. He missed his son dearly and kept Alex’s room exactly as it was, in memory of his child. When Alex came back, he was overjoyed and immediately began showing him the lifestyle of Africa, and getting him up to speed, immensely proud of his son, the “King of New York.”
Although his pride blinded him to an extent and he had a short misunderstanding with Alex, Zuba was still understanding enough to fix the wrongs and get things figured out.
HORRIBLE: Ramses II (The Prince Of Egypt)
Ramses II is the poster child for “stubborn.” As the pharaoh of Egypt, he felt he had big shoes to fill after his father, and doubled down on being tyrannical as a method of leadership. Ramses, despite seeing the literal power of God proven time and time again, was unrelenting in not letting Moses’ people (the Israelites) go and dug himself so deeply in his trench that he couldn’t see out of it.
Eventually, Moses warned Ramses to relent, for the sake of Ramses’ own son, and Ramses had to learn the hard way that he had made a mistake, losing his child to the 10th plague of Egypt.
GREAT: Mr. Ping (The Kung Fu Panda Trilogy)
Mr. Ping took over a great responsibility when he found a hungry baby panda in one of his radish crates. He took over the role of Po’s father out of the goodness of his heart, all voluntarily. He was an excellent father, raising Po to be decent, and though he could get a little noodle-crazy, when his son went off to the Jade Palace to study kung fu, he was very supportive, and even excited.
When Po’s biological father came back, Mr. Ping was hesitant to accept him, not wanting to see his son get hurt, and slightly jealous, but by the end of things, he was very courteous to him. Po was very lucky to have two incredible fathers.
HORRIBLE: Seti I (The Prince Of Egypt)
Sometimes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and in this case, the tree was pretty tall and imposing. Seti I was responsible for the genocide of the Hebrew infants, which led to Moses eventually becoming an adoptive son of his, alongside Ramses, the actual son.
Besides being a murderous monarch who utilized slave labor, Seti I placed immense pressure on Ramses not to be a “weak link” and instilled his own son to be incredibly heartless in doing so. He also showed obvious favoritism towards Moses, further enraging Ramses and inadvertently helping build his son’s resentment and bitterness that would tear the brothers apart.
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