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American Pie, embarrassing parents in the movies

The most embarrassing parents in the movies

Prepare to cringe. Here are the most embarrassing parents in the history of the movies

Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott
Tom Huddleston
Cath Clarke

We've all been there: that please-kill-me moment when you realise one of your parents is about to do something wildly inappropriate and shameful. Maybe it's your mum kicking off when the restaurant bill comes, or your dad singing a made-up harmony part to 'Happy Birthday' at deafening volume. But like everything in life, the movies have to go one better. So here, from 'little chats' about self abuse to telling everyone you're not the Messiah after all, are the most excruciating parental moments in cinema.

The most embarrassing movie parents

Bridget’s mum from ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’

Played by Gemma Jones

Bridge’s mortifying mum Pam never wastes an opportunity to humiliate her daughter. Like that time she ran off with an orange-tanned shopping channel star Julian and over shared about their sex life. Or got a job in the local department store demonstrating a French egg peeler (‘Have it oeuf!’).

Cringiest moment Pam could win a Pulitzer prize for clangers. Here she is introducing Bridget to Mark Darcy for the first time since they were kids: ‘Mark, you remember Bridget? She used to run around your lawn with no clothes on.’

Clark Griswold from the ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ movies

Played by Chevy Chase

Clark is the ultimate means well, tries hard, achieves nothing dad. Whether it’s crossing a continent to visit a theme park without checking that it’s open, trekking the family out to the woods to get a ‘real’ Christmas tree and almost freezing to death or driving round and round the Houses of Parliament because he doesn’t know how roundabouts work, Clark can make a mess of even the most un-fuckupable situation.

Cringiest moment Hand-checking thousands of Christmas lights to find the one bulb that doesn’t work. And then checking them all again.


Jim’s dad and Stifler’s mom from ‘American Pie’

Played by Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge

It’s the ultimate awkward-off. Would you rather have a dad who talks openly about masturbation and interrupts you getting down and dirty with a pie? Or a mother who openly flirts and then actually sleeps with the guy at school you hate the most? Seems pretty lose-lose to us.

Cringiest moment Jim’s dad’s lecture on masturbation wins the prize: ‘I used to call it stroking the salami, you know, pounding the old pud…’

George and Lorraine McFly from ‘Back to the Future’

Played by Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson

Let’s be clear: we’re talking the pre-time-travel George and Lorraine from the beginning of the movie, not preppy, country club high-achievers George and Lorraine from the final scenes. You know, when they’re all puffy-faced and George keeps doing that weird gulping laugh thing. Eesh.

Cringiest moment George playing the doormat to Trump-like bully Biff Tannen is a heartbreaker every time.


Walter Stratford from ‘10 Things I Hate About You’

Played by Larry Miller

His heart is totally in the right place but Bianca and Kat’s overprotective single dad Walter, a successful gynecologist, makes you squirm. There’s his ‘no dating until you graduate’ rule and his attempts to be down with the kids: ‘You are not going out and getting jiggy with some boy. I don’t care how dope his ride is’. Not to mention his doctor chat about being up to his elbows in teenagers’ placentas.

Cringiest moment When he makes his youngest daughter try on a fake pregnancy suit before going to a party: ‘I want you to wear the belly.’

Reverend Shaw Moore from ‘Footloose’

Played by John Lithgow

Movie dads are notoriously overprotective – they love scaring off new boyfriends and setting unfairly early curfews. But some dads take it a bit too far. Like convincing an entire town to outlaw dancing because you’re worried your high-school-age daughter might get carried away feels like an extreme measure.

Cringiest moment It’s bad when he bans dancing, but the slushy seen-the-light scene when he forgives the kids might be even worse.


Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter films

Played by Julie Walters

Mrs Weasley is obviously completely awesome. She is kind, strong and forever protecting her brood of ginger children. So really she’s just on this list for those lumpy hand-knitted jumpers and her girlish her crush on magical celebrity Gilderoy Lockhart.

Cringiest moment Sending Ron a Howler so the entire Great Hall can hear him getting a telling off from his mummy.


Bill’s dad from ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’

Played by J Patrick McNamara

Ah, the midlife crisis dad. The most nail-bitingly embarrassing dad of them all. You know the drill with Bill’s dad: he drives a big red phallic sports car, has got a much younger girlfriend, and wears age-inappropriate clothes to look down with the kids. Still, at least he’s trying. Right

Cringiest moment For long-suffering son Bill S Preston Esquire, the ultimate humiliation comes when he’s forced to call one of his hot ex-schoolmates ‘mom’.


Ben from ‘Captain Fantastic’

Played by Viggo Mortensen

The only Oscar-nominated dad on our list, Ben is outwardly pretty cool. He’s dropped out of society and lives with his kids in the forest, teaching them hunting and survival skills and the writings of leftie intellectual Noam Chomsky. But for 17-year-old son Bo, his dad’s lack of self-awareness is just downright excruciating.

Cringiest moment It’s not entirely Ben’s fault, but the family singalong to ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ might have you gagging on your popcorn.

Brian’s mum Mandy Cohen in ‘The Life of Brian’

Played by Terry Jones

‘He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy. Now piss off!’ You know what it’s like. You’ve just met some cool new friends, who knock to see if you want to hang out. But then your mum answers the door… That’s what happens to hapless Brian Cohen in the classic Monty Python biblical comedy. When his new friends – who have mistaken him for Christ – knock at his door they get a flea in the ear from Brian’s mum Mandy.

Cringiest moment It’s got to be that ‘He’s not the messiah’ line.

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