"Parenthood" boasts of one of the best casts ever assembled. The writing is sharp and witty, the editing perfect, and the acting superb. My favorites are the always amazing Dianne Wiest, who's comedic timing is flawless, a young and lovable Keanu Reeves, and Helen Shaw, who plays "Grandma". This is a comedy that endures because it has a great big heart.
Personal experience with the changes that children brought to their lives inspired director Ron Howard and writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Madel to write this comic take on the challenges of family. Steve Martin plays Gil Buckman, a good-humored husband and father whose dissatisfaction with his own childhood makes him try all the harder to ensure the happiness and success of his own children, as his extended family struggles with their own offspring. Gil, his sisters' families and the elder Buckman's, his parents, try to find the "right" thing to do for their children while dealing with the demands of spouses, life's ill-timed inconveniences, their own aspirations, and each other.
"Parenthood" is a laugh-out-loud look at the perils and rewards of family. Everyone will recognize someone they know in the imperfect children, crazy relatives, and inevitable dysfunctional family member. The film's charm is its familiarity. And it's nice to see characters that don't react to every disappointment by trying to control everyone involved. The cast is wonderful. Gil, the earnest, lovable, and slightly neurotic father, is the perfect role for Steve Martin. In notable supporting roles, Jason Robards is suitably cantankerous as the family patriarch, and Keanu Reeves is affable as a flakey boyfriend. "Parenthood" is funny, realistic, and a great stress-reliever for anyone who has had it up to the gills with family.
The DVD: Bonus features include "Production Notes", which is an essay about the inspiration and creation of the film, and "Cast and Filmmakers", which provides written bios of the director and principal cast. Subtitles are available in Spanish, captioning in English. And dubbing is available in French.
on February 7, 2000
Steve Martin is top billed in this film and he is excellent but the rest of the cast is just as good. This movie is actually divided into four separate parts-four different branch off's of the same family (the father, his kids and their families)-that allows this fine ensemble to portray all the ups and downs of family life. It is a film that teaches without preaching and it's lesson is clearly understood: in life, you can't have the peaks without the valleys. And because of it every character comes to stark realizations about themselves and their relationships with other people. All the characters, that is, except the one played by Tom Hulce. But even that character is correctly written; it just simply isn't the right time for him to realize.The interactions between the father (Jason Robards) and his two sons (Hulce and Martin) tell us much about all three characters' past, present and future. Unfortunately there isn't any interaction between the father and the two daughters, played by Martha Plimpton and Dianne Wiest, but with so many characters to deal with and so many ties to bind, there simply wasn't time. But the time the writers have is well spent indeed. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel have taken a very basic idea and expanded on it in a realistic and original way. It's no wonder that all the characters are tied together so perfectly in the end.Ron Howard has taken that script and directed these tremendous performers to superlative work. Very seldom have any of them been better. Martin shines in an everyman IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE portrayal of the father of three and the second oldest child of the four earlier mentioned. Not since ROXANNE had he given a performance of such range and depth. Dianne Wiest as his older sister won another Oscar nomination and is just as good as she was in HANNAH AND HER SISTERS. Martha Plimpton as the next oldest child is fine as a mother torn between her high-tech-education-supporter-husband (Moranis, his best work since LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) and her young childhood deprived daughter. Tom Hulce is the youngest of Jason Robards' four kids and has the toughest role to play. He wasn't given the one-liners the others have. His character isn't likeable. His father obviously favors him at first, which is hard for the rest of the family as well as the audience to understand. But he portrays the character as it should be played-a wanderer with unstoppable dreams who is also to be pitied. Robards' portrayal of the father is one of his best and should have garnered him another Oscar nomination. Through Robards' father character we see how his kids turned out the way they did. And we see him growing and learning as he finds you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Joaquin Phoenix, here billed as Leaf (River's kid brother as Wiest's youngest) and Helen Shaw as Grandma, the matriarch of the family are also excellent. Keanu Reeves (Wiest's son-in-law) and Mary Steenburgen (Martin's wife) round out the cast beautifully. Randy Newman's score is perfect and the song "I Love to See You Smile" is very infectious.Pulling everything together for a production is not an easy thing. When you couple that with the fact that in this movie, comedy and drama are blended together seemlessly, Howard and his cast and crew have created a true treasure. Being a perfect parent is not easy. Being a perfect person is impossible. If you are anything less, see this movie.
on January 27, 2005
I saw this movie on TV recently and then decided to watch the DVD again, uncut and without interruption. "Parenthood" (1989) is a wonderful movie dealing with LIFE in general. Messages that still speak volumes years later. Married life - showing the good and bad aspects - and then some. You'll laugh at loud at many scenes, and you may cry at others. Travel through the kids birthday parties (Steve Martin is at his best here as "Cowboy Dan"), the kids little league games, family and house management, car trouble, the pressures of work, etc. One family's day-to-day life captured beautifully by director Ron Howard. As much as this is a good movie, the cast is equally impressive. Steve Martin in probably his finest role of the 1980's, Dianne Wiest, Jason Robards, Rick Moranis, Tom Hulce, Mary Steenbergen, and youngsters yet to star in a major motion picture - Keanu Reeves and Joaquin Phoenix. Steve Martin has put some nice family oriented movies together on his resume ("Cheaper By The Dozen", "Father Of The Bride", and dare I say "Bringing Down The House"), but "Parenthood" is the best. DVD features: Not much - only some written production notes and actor bios. 124 minutes and full screen format only. Here's to hoping Universal Studios puts out a deluxe edition in wide screen with some worthy bonus features centered around the superb cast. Great film.
I just watched "Parenthood" again for the umpteenth time, and it still carries an emotional wallop.
The film revolves around several generations of the Buchman family, and though they might, in some other films be considered 'dysfunctional,' in this movie their pitfalls are simply offered as a slice of real life.
The family patriarch is Frank Buchman (Jason Robards). Among his four children are Gil (Steve Martin), a modestly-successful though rather tightly-wound businessman with three children of his own... one of whom is a fragile eight-year-old boy who frequently breaks into hysterics --whether because he dropped a fly-ball and lost a baseball game for the team, or was simply terrified when the house blew a fuse.
Buchman's other son is a complete loser and manipulator named Larry (Tom Hulce), who shows up for a family dinner after (we learn) an absence of some three-plus years. Larry carries some serious baggage, including, but not limited to a gang of mobsters who are quite interested in being paid back for a rather substantial gambling debt.
Buchman's two daughters include Helen (Diane Wiest), whose own daughter played by Martha Plimpton is a high-school girl dating a house painter-cum-drag racer (Keanu Reeves), and whose 12-year-old son Gary (Leaf -now, Joaquin- Phoenix) has withdrawn into himself and his padlocked room. Buchman's other daughter Susan is married to Nathan (Rick Moranis), a PhD of some sort who turns every waking moment and event into an educational opportunity for their four-year-old daughter --a girl who consequently has no capacity to relate to other four-year-olds, but who evidently has memorized the periodic table of elements, and understands words like "pragmatic."
One of the most priceless characters is "Grandma" (apparently, though never actually stated to be Jason Robards' mother). A sweet, and perceptive woman, nothing fazes her... including a scene where a hidden cache of porno flics is discovered. As she's led out of the room by her daughter, we hear her comment: "One of those young men reminded me of your grandfather!"
Grandma's monologue on rollercoasters and merry-go-rounds (and how they are an analogue for life), is one of the best moments in film... not just in THIS film, but one of the best moments in film, period. I have seen the movie easily over a dozen times, and it still slays me every time she starts to speak.
Parenthood is not to be missed.
on February 28, 2000
How good is the Movie? I liked it so much I bought the DVD. The characters and situations are realistic and you can really empathize with their shortcomings and problems. You'll fall over laughing at the "Electric Ear Cleaner" scene...
Unfortunately Universal managed to ruin the DVD release of the movie. I've gotten so used to DVDs being letterboxed that I didn't even check only to find that the DVD has ONLY the pan and scan version. Any release of a movie that starts off by throwing away a third of the image is doomed in my opinion. So now I'm stuck with a great movie ruined by some thoughtless movie executive.
If they ever bother to release a widescreen version I'd sell this defective pan and scan piece of trash and buy the GOOD version. If you like the pan and scan format then you can ignore me and enjoy the movie :)
on November 6, 2013
one of my all-time favorite family movies .. !!! .. i have seen this movie about a million times and i never get tired of it .. :D .. it shows what alot of families are like .. real people! .. and i like that! .. excellent family movie! .. :D ..
on November 8, 2005
For quite a while, "Parenthood" was a perennial favorite in our household, and every now and then we still pop it in the dvd player. It's one of the funniest and most inspiring movies that I've ever seen, an honest and touching portrayal of family and the perils it goes through.
Steve Martin turns in an unforgettable performance as Gil, a father of three who can't manage a stable relationship with his kids nor his wife (Mary Steenburgen). Despite valiant efforts, his personal life as well his job seem to be going down the crapper. Meanwhile, his sister Helen (Dianne Wiest) is having troubles of her own, trying to deal with her isolated son Gary (a young Joaquin Phoenix) as well as her daughter's (Martha Plimpton) relationship with "that Todd" (Keanu Reeves in what is undoubtedly his best screen role ever). Meanwhile his other sister Susan and her husband (Rick Moranis, always a treat) are having troubles of their own, mostly over their highly intelligent daughter Patty. Finally, there's Gil's brother Larry (Tom Hulce), whose addiction to high stakes gambling has put a damper on his relationship with his father (a scene stealing Jason Robards). All of these characters are believable thanks to excellent performances by the actors, and while it seems rather clutterd, the film is in fact an excellent look at family life.
This film is sad, touching and often hysterical. A welcome addition to any dvd collection.
on December 20, 2012
I first saw this movie as a kid and loved Steve Martin's silliness. However, since becoming a parent myself, I most appreciate the honest portrayals of real-life situations (dealing with children's differences, divorce, estrangment, ect...). Steve Martin sets the tone with a nuanced balance of comedy and heart-on-sleeve emotion. The rest of the cast (Mary Steenburgen, Martha Plimpton, Rick Moranis, Tom Hulce, Diane Wiest, Jason Robards and Keanu Reeves) are similarly pitch-perfect.
This is a wonderful, funny, poignant movie. It is nice to see it's example live on as inspiration for the NBC drama of the same name.
on February 10, 2006
This movie is incredibly well done. It's amazing how they
could deftly develop about 10 characters as the story weaves
between their lives with hilarious comedy but also sentiment
as they bounce amoung the foibles of family ties and relationships and of course... parenthood. Brilliantly economical with sharp dialogue as it packs in this roller coaster ride thru the life of one incredibly diverse, multi-generational family. All the twists and turns (and flashback and flashforward sequences) are right on the money. Strong performances thru and thru as actors portray both comic and dramatic sensibilities. One of the great movies of the 90s without question.