Parenthood (1989)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB.5

USA, 1989.  Imagine Entertainment, Universal Pictures.  Story by , , Ron Howard, Screenplay by Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

The terrifying adventure of raising kids is the subject of this absolutely wonderful comedy-drama.  stars as an exasperated, overworked dad who has to deal with his emotionally unstable son () and his beautiful wife’s (Mary Steenburgen) frustrations. Martin’s sister (Dianne Wiest) is dealing with single motherhood, trying to do right by her rebellious daughter () and uncommunicative son (Joaquin Phoenix, then known as Leaf). Martin’s other sister () is married to an overachieving brainiac () who seems to want their five year-old daughter to get her PhD before she even hits the first grade. Enter the wild card, the youngest brother of the family (Tom Hulce) who always brings disaster in his gambling-addicted wake, while his aging parents (Jason Robards, ) continue to try and help. The cast is uniformly excellent, with a brilliant Wiest getting the choicest moments and lines (the scene where she looks through her daughter’s sex photos is a scream). Ron Howard’s surprisingly good direction and the smart screenplay deftly mix serious, heartfelt situations with terrific comedy that makes the whole experience come off as something extremely close to home for anyone watching.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest); Best Original Song (“I Love To See You Smile”)

Golden Globe Award Nominations:  Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Steve Martin); Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest); Best Original Song (“I Love To See You Smile”)

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