Ted Kramer: Margaret, I just need to know something. Did you put Joanna up to this?
Margaret Phelps: No, I did not put Joanna up to this.
Ted Kramer: Give her a little pep talk, maybe?
Margaret Phelps: Joanna is a very unhappy woman and it took a lot of courage to walk out this door.
Ted Kramer: How much courage does it take to walk out on your kid?
Adapted from the novel by Avery Corman, Kramer vs. Kramer
follows the story of Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman
). One day, his wife Joanna (Meryl Streep
) leaves him, forcing him to raise their son, Billy, alone. A year and a half pass before she finally returns to claim Billy; an emotional custody battle ensues. This was 1979's Oscar winner for Best Picture, and the film that earned Hoffman and Streep their first Oscars for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. Robert Benton's wins for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay brought the total to five.
This film features examples of:
- Adult Fear: When Ted sees Billy fall from the jungle gym and hurt himself badly. After that scene, you'll understand how Ted is sprinting like a Olympic track star with Billy in his arms to the hospital. The fact that the kid needs stitches and Ted can only hold him as they are painfully sewn is equally painful for the audience too.
- Academy Award: Five wins: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
- A Day in Her Apron: More like at least a year and a half, but the trope still fits.
- Book Ends: The first meal Ted tries to bake his son is french toast, which ends up going terribly due to his inexperience. On their final day together, the two make french toast again, but this time it is much easier.
- Hollywood Law: The book Reel Justice notes that Ted's fear of Billy having to testify if he appeals is ridiculous, considering that an appeals court does not hear new evidence, and nobody testifies as a witness. Also, the "tender years" doctrine (that mothers are better parents than fathers of young children) was on the wane by the late 1970s, when the film came out, thus it's unlikely a judge would still make that the sole basis of his decision.
- Just Friends: Ted and Margaret.
- Leaving You to Find Myself: The rationale Joanna gives Ted for leaving him at the start.
- Men Can't Keep House: When Ted first tries to cook for Billy after Joanna leaves. Averted for the rest of the film.
- Naked People Are Funny: After coming home with Ted for a one-night stand, his coworker Phyllis encounters Billy in the hallway while nude, leading to her awkwardly introducing herself while employing hand underwear.
- Precision F-Strike: "Damn her!" It's only a mild one out of context.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: Vivaldi's Concerto in C major for mandolin and strings appears over the opening credits, while several Henry Purcell pieces are employed through the rest of the film.
- Shout-Out: Dustin Hoffman reads the Tintin book Red Rackham's Treasure to his son.
- Taking the Kids
- Toilet Seat Divorce: The reason for Joanna's leaving boils down to this.
- Versus Title
- Vetinari Job Security
- Workaholic: Ted, or as he likes to call it, bringing home the bacon.