Parenthood (1989)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Domestic Comedy, Ensemble Film  |   Release Date - Aug 2, 1989 (USA)  |   Run Time - 124 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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This fond and funny look at the travails of an extended middle-class family succeeds on the strength of its fine ensemble acting and the warm humor of its polished, only occasionally mawkish script. Director and co-writer Ron Howard, no stranger to blockbusters, guided Steve Martin to one of his biggest grosses -- and one of his most restrained, least wild-and-crazy performances -- by surrounding him with seasoned pros (Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Rick Moranis) and placing the frequent belly laughs in a believable emotional context. Dianne Wiest is particularly fine as the divorced, romantically frustrated single mom coming to terms with the burgeoning sexuality of her own children (Martha Plimpton, Leaf Phoenix), while old trooper Helen Shaw, as the brood's grandmother, strikes a precise balance between goofy and wise. The film's sweet-and-sour view of parenting may be idealized and its many subplots a little too easily resolved, but most critics and audiences found the combination of suburban angst, heartwarming characterizations, and bawdy humor irresistible. Rarely has a modern Hollywood comedy been so simultaneously poignant and hilarious.