18 April 2001 | bigpurplebear
Are you someone's parent? Are you someone's child? SEE THIS MOVIE!!
When "Parenthood" first came out, I did my level best to avoid it, certain that it seeing it would be roughly akin to being embalmed with maple syrup. Then came that dreadfully slow night at home a couple of years later, faced with a choice on the ol' tube between endless reruns of "Three's Company" and HBO showing -- oh, no! -- "Parenthood." So I clicked on HBO, gritted my teeth, prepared for the worst . . .
And was wrong.
Ron Howard is one savvy filmmaker. Maybe one of the savviest, I'm not sure. But I do know that, to make "Parenthood," he combined his savvy with all the heart he could muster (which was plenty, apparently) and that the result is a masterpiece.
Virtually every aspect of parenting is examined; moreover, it is done in a way that -- miracle of miracles! -- causes you to think, and to feel, every bit as much as it makes you laugh. Throat lumping up? Not to worry, here comes another belly-laugh to smooth it out.
The key to the film's message may lie with Jason Robards' speech --"There's no goal line in parenting, no end zone where you spike the ball and that's it . . ." -- or it may lie with Keanu Reeves -- "You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to drive a car or buy a dog . . ." -- or it may simply be Gil Buckman's (Steve Martin) heroism in salvaging his emotionally disturbed son's birthday party; then again, it might be embodied in the frantic, stressed out stoicism of Dianne Wiest's single mom character as she comes to grips with her teenage daughter's choices and impending motherhood. But wherever you find it herein, the message is simple and profound: Parenthood is nothing less than heroism on a daily basis. Quiet, unheralded, underappreciated heroism.
One of the finest things about this movie is that nobody steps out of character. There are no miraculous revelations, no nick-of-time cavalry charges or character transformations. Characters here solve their individual dilemmas by growing WITHIN their characters. And realistically, at that.
It's been said that a really good story leaves its author crying as he/she writes the final pages. Sometimes -- not often enough -- a really good movie can leave a reviewer the same way as he finishes his commentary, crying and laughing simultaneously.
Well, don't just stand there! Someone get me a Kleenex!!