The Worst Parents In Romantic Comedies, Ranked

The recent release of I Love My Dad, which came out on August 5th, stirred up a lot of controversy. While some viewers enjoyed the film, many were disturbed by a father catfishing his son to get closer to him.

But this rom-com isn't the first movie to feature a bad parent in a romantic comedy. Though the storylines are intended to leave viewers with a new perspective, romantic comedies have a tendency to portray extremely problematic parents. These movies feature some of the worst parents in rom-coms, ranked by their ability to make their children's lives difficult.


Dumplin' (2018)

Dumplin' is one of the best mom dramas in modern film. In this comedic drama, Willowdean Dixon joins a beauty pageant, much to the discomfort of her former beauty queen mother, to prove a point about the nature of the institution.

While Rosie and Willowdean grow to understand each other by the end of this heartfelt storyline, she is quite the lackluster mother throughout the film. She doesn't put in the effort to really get to know her daughter, too focused on the identity she had in her youth. Rosie isn't a terrible person at heart, which is made clear by the two's reconciliation at the end, but she certainly has her failings as a mother.

Grown Ups (2010)

The main cast of Grown Ups walking together.

While this isn't one of Adam Sandler's best movies, Grown Ups is considered one of the best romantic comedies of its time. This film focuses on five lifelong friends that go to a cabin with their families to commemorate their recently deceased childhood basketball coach.

While the parents in this film are portrayed as pretty decent, they have their failures throughout the plot. Rob Schneider's role is a particularly bad parent, inviting the three daughters he didn't raise to reconcile after he's ridden with guilt. Lenny's wife Roxanne also initially appears quite selfish, putting her fashion show in Milan over giving her family a fun summer outing. These parents prove their worth in the end, as is expected of these family rom-coms, but they're not without their faults.

The Proposal (2009)

Craig Nelson and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal. 

The Proposal is a great romance movie, but it has some underlying dark themes. When Margaret travels to Alaska to spend time with Andrew's family as his fake fiancé, she quickly learns he has a complicated relationship with his father Joe.

Joe expresses how disappointed he is in his son's life decisions and Andrew decided to not take over the family business. This isn't a unique trope used in rom-coms, but the way Andrew sulks and devolves into anger makes this aspect memorable. There is, of course, a happy conclusion to their relationship by the end of the film, but the impact Joe had on his son makes him a memorably bad father.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Dolores drives a car and smiles in Silver Linings Playbook

In this film, Pat has just gotten out of a psychiatric facility after going through a long treatment. He focuses on getting back his wife, Nikki, but she moved away and filed a restraining order against him after he attacked the man he found his wife in the shower with. He is also getting involved with Tiffany, who he just met, and who also has mental illness.

Throughout this film, Pat is seen having a couple of heated arguments with his father. Without the support of his family, who doesn't seem to understand what he's going through, Pat turns to a stranger for help. Though this story is more about Pat and Tiffany, it's heartbreaking to see how disappointed his parents are in him. Mental illness is a difficult subject for anyone, but his parents proved to be lackluster by not attempting to allow him to heal and attempt to understand his breakdowns.

Because I Said So (2007)

Daphne Wilder dancing with Milyl, Maggie and Mae in Because I Said So

In this rom-com, a meddling mother, Daphne, attempts to set up her daughter, Milly, because she's worried she will end up alone. This backfires when Milly actually falls for one of the men Daphne disapproved of.

Daphne is clearly a caring mother who wants what's best for her children. However, she also meddles to the point of disrupting her daughter's life and leading to a lot of heartbreak. She redeems herself by admitting what she did was wrong, but the meddling proved she wasn't the best of parents. While all parents meddle at one time or another, Daphne's intrusion is a bit over the top.

Happiest Season (2020)

The cast of Happiest Season

When Abby goes to visit her girlfriend Harper's high-profile family, she learns that her girlfriend is still not out to her parents and they, therefore, have to pretend to be friends. This leaves both women in an awkward situation throughout the holiday season.

While Abby's anger is rightfully directed at Harper for making her feel out of place in Harper's world, Harper's parents are also to blame for all the drama. These parents set impossible standards for their daughters, pitting the two oldest against each other and constantly making the youngest feel left out. They learn to accept and love Harper and Abby as a couple, but their parenting style was certainly poor.

Big Daddy (1999)

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Big Daddy is one of Adam Sandler's best romantic comedies. In the film, lazy Sonny unexpectedly finds himself in charge of his best friend's long-lost child, Julian. Though he does this to impress a woman, he grows to care for the child.

Sonny is far from a perfect surrogate father in this movie, but he isn't the worst parent in the film. Julian is sent to this address by his mother, stating that she can't care for him anymore. While there are multiple reasons why someone can struggle to care for a child, her decision to send him to a man she hadn't seen in years shows a lack of concern for Julian's well-being.

Monster-In-Law (2005)

Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez in Monster-In-Law

This movie tackles the clichéd storyline of someone not getting along with their in-laws, but to the extreme. When Kevin proposes to Charlie, things quickly turn complicated when Kevin's mother, Viola, decides to make Charlie's life hell.

It's clear Viola loves her son, but she's also toxically attached to controlling him. After losing her job to a younger woman, she becomes obsessed with the threat of Charlie stealing her son away. Viola says and does some vile things to Charlie. There's something particularly terrible about a parent disrupting their child's happiness for the sake of their own.