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7 Sh*tty Movie Parents Of The 80s and 90s That Will Make You Feel Better By Comparison

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | March 7, 2013 | Comments ()


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I have no idea how many of our readers are parents. But if you are, or if you've ever been charge of a little one, odds are you've second guessed your parenting decisions at some point. But don't worry about that overly processed baby food you fed your child or that you let them play with your iPad too much growing up. Seriously, don't worry, I know for a fact you're doing a better job than these peeps.

The Titular Mom -- Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead : First of all, let's discuss the stellar parenting that resulted in her kids being such mongrels to begin with. Secondly, let's ponder the advisability of leaving your mongrel kids alone with a relative stranger for two months. TWO MONTHS. Thirdly, let's reflect on the message of this movie which is that with mom out of the picture, these kids finally found happiness and purpose in life. Cool story, bro.
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Wayne and Diane Szalinski -- Honey I Shrunk The Kids: Can't afford a lab outside of your family home for your wacky inventions? Then maybe invest in some better security for your garrett/office. That way you won't have to scrutinize your breakfast cereal for wayward children.
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Daniel Hillard -- Mrs. Doubtfire: No, really, I cannot believe this movie didn't end with a restraining order and jail time. Hillard may have had his heart in the right place, but it's his mentail condition that concerns me.
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Jim and Brenda Baker -- Sixteen Candles: The John Hughes oeuvre is basically predicated on the concept of (usually pretty harmless) bad parenting and we all know that the lovely Paul Dooley here makes the most of his "I'm sorry moment." That being said, Brenda Baker, how do you forget the date you popped a baby out? I don't care how upset you are that Ginny is marrying a bohunk.
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John Bender's Dad - The Breakfast Club: The exception to that "usually pretty harmless" label above is, of course, John Bender's dad. Who's a legit sh*thead and doesn't even pick his son up from detention. That's okay, you can't exactly punch the air when you're riding in your parent's car.
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George and Lorraine McFly -- Back To The Future: This movie makes no bones about the fact that the McFlys have a problematic relationship and generally disappointing lives. But the movie never seems to question the fact that Marty has a close relationship with a mentally unstable scientist who deals with terrorists. He's basically best friends with Doc Brown. That didn't set off any alarm bells, McFlys? Earth to McFlys.
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Peter and Kate McCallister -- Home Alone 1 & 2: I mean. They did it twice.
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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Belkwinith

    Read the Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House" books again as an adult and see if you don't just want to punch Pa Ingalls right in his meat face. They have a great house, close to town and relatives, and a nice farm and HE decides there are TOO MANY FOLKS CROWDing him... so he loads the entire family up and drives them in a wagon across the country, settling various odd places, he freezes and then very nearly starves them. It's like this guy can't make ONE GOOD DECISION. He becomes more lame and clueless as the books go on. Ma Ingalls must have wanted to beat him in head with a log sometimes.

  • Gistine

    Ordinary People- Mary Tyler Moore was just plain evil. Enough for two parents. God, I still want to kick her in the face.

  • hippyherb

    The mother from 'three men and a baby'.

  • gnocco

    Nice work Joanna, when you Google "mentail condition" your article now shows up top rank. You SEO genius, you, looking to pick up on the niche markets....

  • prairiegirl

    I think I'm willing to give Samantha Baker's parents a pass. Their oldest, high maintenance daughter was about to get married to an "oily bohunk". Sam is the typical middle child, getting along just fine and drawing little to no attention to herself. My parents forgot my birthday one year (I was outraged to say the least) but as a parent myself now, I can now see how such things happen. I'm just hoping it never happens to ME. The good news is, my youngest was born on my birthday so I don't think hers will ever go unnoticed. But hey, you never know, right?

  • brandon_ROTU

    How about the parents in Big? Their son goes missing and no one is concerned?

  • alice88wa

    They deliberately don't give her any screen time so you don't realize how fucking awful the premise of that movie is. I guarantee you, that poor woman spends the whole time in paralyzing agony imagining her kidnapped son being raped and murdered by some deviant.

  • Gina

    His mother reported him missing, that's concern, isn't it?. It's just that she didn't get very much screen time.

  • Gina

    I agree with some of these choices, but putting the McFlys on here is kind of weak.Plenty of other options, including but not limited to

    The Wormwoods
    Rose's mother from Titanic
    Darth Vader
    Sarah Connor

  • Gina

    and now that I'm thinking about it... aren't most parents in James Cameron's movies, if not all, pretty shitty? Aliens and True Lies fit the pattern as well.

  • Jon

    "Mentail"? ARRRAGGAHH!!! PROOFREAD, YOU HORRIBLE BASTARD! It isn't so difficult. There's maybe a hundred words in this whole goddamn article.

  • LEROOOY

    Not my joke (can't remember where I heard it), but "Mrs. Doubtfire" would have swept humanity off its feet with the title: "Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dad."

  • Don't make me question Mrs. Doubtfire. What else will I have to watch on ABC Family when it's not Pretty Little Liars or a Harry Potter marathon?

  • Rachel

    At least some of the bad behavior is acknowledged in some of these films. To me the absolute worst parents, who are still portrayed as wonderful human beings, are in the Parent Trap. You don't get along with your ex so not only do you never let them see one of their parents, you don't bother to ever mention that they have an IDENTICAL TWIN walking around. But, hey, you're good looking and charming so it's fine.

  • MRC210

    And when you do find out that you've spent the summer with the twin that you haven't seen since she was a baby, you're thrilled and delighted and teary, despite the fact that you've never bothered to keep in touch with this child or even seemed to know whether she was still alive. And said child is all "Oh mom/dad, it's so wonderful to see you at last" instead of "Hey, you SOB, remember ME? The one you walked away from? Here's my therapy bill!"

  • Patty

    Thank you! And who the hell separates twins so each can have one? WTF?! I only saw the pre-crack Lindsay Lohan version so if there is any logical reason why they separate twins, could someone let me know?

  • This falls a little outside the given decades, but I never thought anyone had worse parents than Charlie Brown. I mean, holy shit: They don't supervise anything he does. The kid is clearly manic depressive but they do nothing to help him. They let the other kids treat him like shit. They MAKE HIM COOK HIS OWN THANKSGIVING DINNER, PEOPLE.

    Oh, that poor child.

  • chanohack

    Can there be an honorable mention for the titular babysitter in Adventures in Babysitting? Because it is a goddamn miracle that those kids survived. They literally prayed to Thor and he had pity on them.

  • Kinko

    Having only watched Close Encounters for the first time the other day I can, without a doubt, say that Richard Dreyfuss if the dead beatiest dad ever put down on film. I mean he leaves his wife and kids in the shitter to go do what exactly??? Gawp dumbly at a spacecraft interior for the rest of his life.... he didn't even phone to say where he'd be. Asshole.

  • poopnado

    But you know, his brain got infected. And it's really interesting to see when Spielberg directed this--noticeably BEFORE he had kids of his own (someone correct me if I'm wrong). But once you become a parent, I assume you can't write and direct something like that. Because it is so dead-beaty and irresponsible. But when you're young and have a wild imagination, you can imagine being whisked away by an obsession with aliens and abandoning your family. After you have kids you direct movies about obsessive/protective parents (e.g. Minority Report and War of the Worlds).

  • Oddly enough, I prefer Close Encounters with the deadbeat dad to either Minority Report or War of the Worlds. Maybe it's because I like the Spielberg movies with the kind aliens more than the ones with the aggressive aliens...

  • poopnado

    GOOD WORK! I chuckled quite a bit. I'm also kind of delirious from skiing, but still. HI-larious.

  • babykangarootribbiani

    someone should make this list for shotty tv parents of the 80;s and 90;s (i mean i love full house but danny tanner scares the shitaki outta me.)

  • apsutter

    Wow....now I need to go on an 80's movie bender the likes of which has never been seen! Seriously, all these movies are only guilty pleasure list. I especially love the spectacular fashion show in "don't tell mom..." and I will watch Home Alone whenever it is on, doesn't matter what time of year it is. I received the 2 pack bluray version of home alone 1 & w for Christmas and I've watched them almost 10 times already. Just need to add Uncle Buck to my marathon while we're at it...

  • Laura

    Is it weird that whenever I see the word "Stop" my mind immediately follows with "Collaborate and listen."?

  • I think of: "in the naaaame of love... before you breaaaak my heart"

  • apsutter

    Hmmm..I always do a pause and then think Hammertime

  • melissa82

    Oh shit, my mind followed with: Or My Mom Will Shoot.
    You're not weird at all Laura.

  • atgdng`

    Thanks to the husband and my (mine?) awesome parenting, my three year old automatically says it whenever someone says "stop". He also regularly tells people that he likes *insert thing here* and he cannot lie. So.

  • Leelee

    Yesterday my friend was trying to remember where she'd left something. She wandered around muttering "It's in... I know somewhere... Innnnnnnn...."
    I defy anyone to resist bursting out with: "West Philadelphia, born and raised!"

  • dagnabbit

    What about the dad in Life is Beautiful, who lies to his son about the fact the Nazi's have them in a death camp, and instead tells him this is some silly game, putting the boy in quite a bit of unnecessary danger. Benigni won an Oscar for this, people. Proof that anything about the Holocaust will automatically win an Oscar.

    His kid lived, but I bet he grew up to be the only Jewish Holocaust denier on the planet. NIce job, Dad

  • badkittyuno

    But damn do I love all those movies

  • JenVegas

    I'm an only child in my 30s. Neither of my parents can remember my birthday. If you tell me this means I'm living a John Hughes movie I will be OK with that.

  • BWeaves

    I normally don't do, "I can top that," BUT

    My mother's TWIN sister forgot her birthday EVERY YEAR. When my mother mentioned that sister had forgotten mom's birthday, sister said, "When is it?"

  • katy

    I have a good friend whose mom has not only forgotten her last two birthdays, but called on one of them to remind her to call her brother on his birthday. It happens.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Are you in a Chicago suburb? Because I think you're required to be in a Chicago suburb. Or at least have grown up in one.

  • ZombieMrsSmith

    Cameron's parents in Ferris Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?

  • poopnado

    Ferris's parents are also pretty bad. They have no idea that Ferris frequently skips school, nor does his mother seem all that enraged when she finds out that his day off constitutes his 9th absence (although she is surprised). Plus, Ferris is kind of a dick. A lovable dick, but a dick all the same. And Jeannie is kind of hateful. And she wants to get up on Charlie Sheen at a police station. I gotta blame the parents a little.

  • Jezzer

    The Buellers clearly play favorites with their children too. No one even tries to argue against the idea that they care a lot more about Ferris than about Jeannie.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Something d-o-o parenting? ...Doo-doo parenting. And did it work? It did not work, and Cameron Frye sank deeper into his depression.

  • VonnegutSlut

    I have a residual fondness just some of the sillier aspects of "Mrs. Doubtfire," mainly because I was a kid when it came out & it's mostly nostalgia.

    However, I have a very vivid recollection of the conversation I had with my mom when I was about 12 or so and was rewatching "Mrs. Doubtfire" with my little brother. She came into the room right towards then end when his fake face peels off in the restaurant & they discover who he really is.

    She just looked at me & said, "I know this is a funny movie and all, but you realize Sally Field's first response to Robin Williams was the right one? I'm talking about the sole custody & a restraining order. That was smart. In the real world, if a guy pulls something like that, he's probably crazier than a shit house rat & you and all your kids are likely as not to end up dead in his trunk or something. If your soon-to-be ex-husband ever did anything like that, you just quietly pack up the kids & come home. Your dad and I will have you out the country by the end of the day. Are we clear?"

    Now, THAT'S good parenting.

  • $27019454

    Sally Field's dress in that above photo is the real crime here.

  • apsutter

    What's really the travesty is that her character is supposed to be some big time interior designer and the inside of the house looks like an 80s nightmare and so bland. And I won't let the "it was the 90s excuse" work because there are tons of TV/movie homes that totally hold up from that era.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Permissible on the basis of early 90s.

  • jennp421

    I thought it was a pant suit so the fact that it is a dress is actually better than what I imagined. I still agree, though.

  • $27019454

    O my god. Is that pants? Is that a fold in betwixt her nether parts or is it blue sky? My god you might be right. Seriously? Arrests need to be made pronto. Tim Gunn is needed here. Stat.

  • Steph

    I've seen this movie way too many times so I can report that is indeed a dress. Worn with black tights. Yeah. Let that sink in for a minute.

  • The Kitastrophe

    OILY bohunk, thank you very much

  • John G.

    but Dong, where is my automobile?

  • apsutter

    AUTOMOBIIILLLE!?

  • John G.

    Actually, speaking of Back to the Future, I just read this fan theory on reddit today that might explain why his parents let him hang out with a crazy-haired old man.

    Imagine you're Doc Brown, sitting in your house working on your mind reading device when a troubled teenager shows up and tells you this crazy story that he is from the future. He stole a DeLorean from this crackpot old guy in town and it sent him back in time by accident.

    But Marty doesn't have any information about a clock tower, a lightning strike, etc. When Doc can't predict any future events he has no way of sending him home. Marty IS stuck in 1955. Doc sends him away to live somewhere other than Hill Valley, and Marty changes his name to Huey Lewis and has a completely different life.

    Doc then spends the next thirty years charting all events that his 1955 counterpart can use to help get Marty back. He orchestrates the women to give Marty the flyer in the town square with the info about the lightning strike and the clock tower. He meets Marty as a child and befriends him and his parents, which is why Lorraine and George never mention Doc, or get annoyed at Marty leaving in the middle of the night to hang out with him. He's like part of the family. Doc raises Marty to not be a criminal thug car theif. Doc has to wait for Marty to be the right age and for DeLorean's to be invented. The time machine is the one from the past. He has just kept it working. It's made of stainless steel, so it won't rust. It cleverly designed to easily fit a big pole and hook into the electrics for fucks sake. He has that bullet proof vest on the first time we see him get shot. It was all a ruse to get Marty to show 1955Doc the video tape so he could take notes on how the time machine worked so it could be rebuilt from scratch. He did all this to belay his guilt for getting a kid trapped in the past, in the future. He eventually gets Marty back and doesn't have to spend a life knowing that he ruined a mans life with his invention.
  • poopnado

    WHAT.

  • Mother. Of. God.

  • Said in your best James Earl Jones voice a la Hunt For Red October...

  • dizzylucy

    To be fair, we should also question the mental health of Sally Field's character in Mrs. Doubtfire. She was married to the guy for however long and had three kids with him, and yet didn't recognize him face to face.

  • PDamian

    Dumb example from a dumb movie, but for some reason, it bugs the shit out of me. God knows the Twilight movies have major issues, but I always liked Charlie Swan, Bella's dad -- except for one thing. In Eclipse (the third one), Jacob kisses Bella against her will, and she breaks her hand punching his face. There's a scene with Bella, Jacob, Edward and Charlie in which Jacob admits as much, and Charlie merely looks perturbed. I have a father I barely tolerate and a stepfather I love dearly, and I can honestly say that either one of them would have had his hands around Jacob's neck in a split second had I been in Bella's place. Some punk admits to putting his hands on your daughter, she gets hurt defending herself, and your reaction is to look concerned? Neither of my dads are known for even tempers, and they'd probably have ended up in jail for assault in real life, but surely that sort of situation merits more of a reaction than an "oh, dear" expression.

  • There are a lot of scenes in the entire saga regarding Charlie's reactions to the changes in Bella's life. I give him his confused reaction in Twilight when she storms in and says she's leaving Forks 4eva. However, in New Moon, she's spirited away to Italy with Alice to stop Edward -- and all he does is ground her and forbid her to see Edward after a certain time. At the end of the book, you can hear him hollering at her, because Jacob tattled about how they were riding the bikes and Charlie got mad about that.

    In Eclipse, yep, that happened, but Charlie is Team Jacob, so it's okay! :| Also, Bella's supposed to be a klutz, but who seriously breaks their hand punching someone's face? No. The whole aspect of her being grounded from New Moon was essentially dropped by the end as well.

    Also, Breaking Dawn. There was a scene in the movie where he finally is able to visit Bella and he seriously stands there and doesn't question anything that's going on -- why was Bella sick, what she was sick with, where she was, why she looks different, why they're adopting this kid all of the sudden, why they're still in Forks when apparently Bella and Edward were going to go to Alaska (???). For a sheriff, he sucks.

  • Teresa G

    It scares and concerns me that you know so much about this "saga."

  • SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

  • Hollyg

    You should read what happens in the book. I saw a photo of it on tumblr, Charlie actually CONGRATULATES Jacob for getting a kiss out of Bella.

  • the other courtney

    There is a cartoon (Nick or Disney, can't keep those two straight) called "Max and Ruby", based on some children's books about a pair of sibling rabbits. They live in a house and Ruby is the overbearing sister, Max is the mischievous little brother and domestic adventures ensue. There are no parents. None. Mind you, the neighbors have parents, there are adults all over this idyllic town driving buses and owning candy stores and judging pie contests. Max and Ruby's grandmother pops in (she doesn't live with them) from time to time to do that thing grandmothers do with cookies or presents, but day-to-day, Max and Ruby are left to their own devices. There is even a freaking FAMILY PORTRAIT over the living room couch, but no mention of the parents. Ruby cooks and cleans in between her Bunny Scout meetings and dance recitals. Max totters along adorably, taking buses downtown and having Ruby buy him clothes and reading him bedtime stories and no one seems to think it's strange THAT THEY ARE ALL ALONE.

    This cartoon freaks me out. Where. The. Eff. Are. Their. Parents? Are they in jail? Are they cooking meth in the basement? Did Ruby eliminate her competition and are their corpses festering under the backyard swing? I don't know why it bothers me so much but it's WEIRD Y'ALL.

  • Teresa G

    Yes! This is a beautifully written query. My husband and I always wondered where those parents were when my son was hooked on this in his preschool years.

  • ,

    Everybody rec this, dammit.

  • Return of Santitas

    I think that Max murdered them, Michael Myers-style, years ago, and that Ruby is desperately keeping up appearances and pandering to Max's demands in the futile hope that he will let her live.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Later, Max - after taking care of his sister, who he felt held him back - moved away to the big city and became the partner of dog private eye. He still is a murderous psychopath, albeit a loveable one.

  • $27019454

    John Bender's nostrils always distracted the sh!t outa me every time I watched that movie. Then I watched it with my kids and my daughter remarked that Bender's nostrils made him look like he smelled something bad.

    Which means my parenting is awesome.

  • THANK YOU! I don't know about you but I had to grip the arm rests of my sofa to avoid being sucked into those bottomless vortexes. It was often very hard. One time I lost a lamp.

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