Monday, August 15, 2016

Movie Review: "Parenthood" (1989)

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Director: Ron Howard
Year: 1989
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes

A look into the life of the Buckman family. Each of the four siblings in the Buckman clan lead very different lives and deal with parenthood in their own way based on their own unique situation.  

"Parenthood" stars an ensemble cast and focuses on the lives of the extended Buckman family. They all live in a suburb of St. Louis, and each have their own unique situation within the context of this story. Gil Buckman, played by the incomparable Steve Martin, grew up resenting his neglectful father Frank, played by Jason Robards. Gil swore things would be different when he had kids and now wants to be the perfect dad. He is willing to sacrifice everything for them just to make them happy, be it giving up time at work to coach little league or dressing up as a cowboy and performing at his kid's birthday. Despite this, his oldest son Kevin, played by Jasen Fisher, has emotional problems, and Gil and his wife Karen, played by Mary Steenburgen, are having trouble figuring out how to handle it. Gil's sister Helen, played by Dianne Wiest, is a single mother dealing with her own parenting issues. Her intelligent yet rebellious daughter Julie, played by Martha Plimpton, seems to be throwing her future away for a not-too-bright boy named Tod, played by Keanu Reeves. Helen is also having trouble with her son Garry, played by Joaquin "Leaf" Phoenix, who is closed off emotionally and distant from almost everything due to a lack of a strong male influences in his life. Gil's other sister Susan, played by Harley Jane Kozak, seems happily married to her husband Nathan, played by Rick Moranis, but behind closed doors, Nathan's obsession with raising their preschool aged daughter Patty, played by Ivyan Schwann, as a child genius ready to conquer the Ivy league system, drives a huge wedge in their relationship as their ideas about child rearing start to differ more and more over time. Finally, Gil's youngest brother Larry, played by Tom Hulce, despite being their father's clear favorite child, is the biggest screw up of the family. He is often involved with bad crowds and shady individuals and has a gambling addiction that gets him in constant trouble. Larry has just had a son he didn't know about dumped into his lap, but seems ill equipped to actually raise him. What a tangled web we weave!

First off, "Parenthood" is a tremendous yet emotional film filled with some of our favorite actors ever. It handles the drama of raising a family and intertwines it with some really great and often iconic comedic moments. The movie is able to take the audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions from laughter and sadness to everything in between. Steve Martin is as funny as he has ever been here, and when thrown into a film with so many other fantastic actors, even though it can get sad, it's still a treat to watch time and time again. We believe the situations taking place here could and do happen in real life, and this believability makes it that much better and a cohesive, realistic story. Even Keanu Reeves, Martha Plimpton, and Joaquin Phoenix, who were all practically just kids at the time, are fantastic here. These separate stories intertwine together to make for one helluvah film. Directed by Ron Howard, a name you will see quite a bit in the coming weeks on this blog, you can tell he took the time to craft what he felt was the perfect, genuine parenting movie, and to us, he succeeded. Written well, too, "Parenthood" has managed to stand the test of time and is every bit as effective now as it was in the 80's, minus all the pesky smartphones.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 92%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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