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Parenthood

Parenthood

What He said:

He

Ever find yourself catching bits and pieces of several different movies in the same day/night? It’s not something I really plan on doing, but it seems to happen more often than I’d like. It bugs the shit out of me too, because it’s a reminder of how much more free time I wish I had. The day is over, I’ve seen 30-40 minutes of three different movies and I don’t have a single thing to review for my site. I have a rule that I can only review things I have recently watched and in their entirety.

I must have seen the middle 45 minutes of Casino and Goodfellas dozens of times. I’ve seen The Goonies more time than I can count, but whenever I catch it on TV I seem to tune in just as the gang is arriving at Mikey’s house. So when I just happen to come upon a movie from the start and I have the chance to actually watch it, I see it as something of a treat.

This happened to me recently as I came across Parenthood on Encore a few weeks ago. It was a Sunday morning and it was a rare moment where I didn’t have a single chore to do or errand to run. Now I have seen this movie several times, but not for a long time. So, I grabbed a nice hot cup of coffee and watched Ron Howard’s comedy/drama for the first time in a while.

The movie focuses on Gil and Karen Buckman (Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen). They are parents of three very different, but equally challenging. Kevin struggles with confidence and has anxiety issues, Taylor kisses all the boys in her class, and Justin likes to hit things…with his head. Oh and that isn’t even all of it. The problems extend to the rest of the family as well.

Gil’s father Frank (Jason Robards) is a major pain in the ass and treats just about everyone like garbage; especially his wife. The only person he seems to treat with any real love is his screw up son Larry (Tom Hulce). For some reason, Frank has a soft spot for this guy. No matter how many times he disappears or gets himself into trouble, Frank just thinks Larry is the greatest. It’s probably because Larry isn’t tied down. He’s single, goes wherever he wants, and is always on the cusp of some get rich quick scheme. The only problem with that lifestyle is that he usually owes somebody money and has a whole slew of other problems to boot.

Gil’s one sister Helen (Diane Wiest) is a single mother and she’s struggling with two kids who want nothing to do with her. Julie (Martha Plimpton) thinks her mother is a nag. She wants nothing more than to spend time with her slacker boyfriend Todd (Keanu Reeves). She’s a smart kid, but is on the verge of throwing her future away. Her son Gary (Jacquin Phoenix) is even worse. This kid has some major issues. He slinks in and out of the house in an attempt to avoid his family as much as possible. When he does bump into them, the interactions are short and awkward.

His other sister Susan (Harley Jane Kozak) seems to have a perfect life. She’s healthy, organized, and has a job she loves. She also has a genius of a child. All of this is thanks to her husband Nathan (Rick Moranis). The only problem is that all of this comes at a cost. Nathan is really uptight. He’s not a fun guy at all and often pushes everyone too hard.

So the Buckman’s have their fair share of problems. Everybody does, but the whole family is really going through a rough patch at this time. Parenthood examines those problems in a very real and relatable way. It’s also a pretty damn funny movie too. Life is filled with all kinds of problems, but there are also plenty of laughs along the way. This movie is wonderful look at the life of your average family.

The movie is a result of some quality acting and directing. Steve Martin was great. I couldn’t tell you what he’s been in recently, but during the 80s and 90s he was excellent. There was just something about him that portrayed the average American guy very well. Speaking of your everyday person, Diane Wiest was superb as the struggling single mother Helen. She was nominated for an Academy Award and deserved every bit of it. Ron Howard ties the whole thing together rather nicely. When you think of great directors, he’s often overlooked imo. We always hear about the big names, but I’d venture to say he’s not too far behind.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on February 22, 2012.