"You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it."Parenthood
is a 1989 comedy-drama film directed by Ron Howard
and starring an ensemble cast including Steve Martin
, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest, Jason Robards, Keanu Reeves
, Rick Moranis
and a very young Joaquin Phoenix
The film follows Gil Buckman (Martin) a neurotic man who works as a sales executive. Though he is constantly busy with his job, he wants to spend more time with his three kids and be a better father to them, especially since his own dad was distant and worked all the time. This soon gets worse as he finds out that his wife is now pregnant with their fourth child. Gil becomes worried if he will be able to handle this. To top it off, Gil begins seriously questioning his parenting skills as his oldest son Kevin enters therapy and his other two kids have some emotional problems as well.
Gil ends up having to spend more time at work not only due to an expanding family, but also because of the office politics where he works. His siblings deal with their own issues as well. Younger brother Larry refuses to grow up, dumping his problems - and son - on their aging parents. Helen deals with her daughter's too in-depth teenage romance and her son's abandonment issues. And Susan deals with her husband's harsh academic training of their preschool aged daughter.
It was twice adapted to television, first in 1990 and then again in 2010
This Film provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Revealing some of his Hidden Depths, Tod tells Helen about how his father used to "flick lit cigarettes" at his head.
Tod as his father "Hey asshole, get up and make me breakfast"
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Gil mistakes Helen's vibrator for a flashlight during a power outage.
- Awesome McCoolname: Larry's son is named Cool.
- Babies Ever After: The final scenes show the family continuing to grow.
- Babies Make Everything Better: The implications of the final scenes mentioned above.
- Black Sheep: While all the Buckmans are screwed up to some degree Larry definitely fits this trope when compared to his siblings.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Buckmans have their share of hardships and hang-ups.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Julie.
- California Doubling: Florida (mostly Orlando) doubled for Missouri (mostly St. Louis).
- Children Raise You: And how.
- Chocolate Baby: Larry's son Cool.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Grandma.
- The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Grandma's story about the roller coaster proves an apt metaphor for Gil's life.
- Cool Old Lady: Grandma might get passed around the family like a fruitcake but she's pretty awesome when it comes down to it.
- Control Freak: Nathan.
- Covers Always Lie: The poster makes it look like it'll be another wacky Steve Martin comedy. It's more drama than comedy and the humor is more adult and subtle.
- Disappeared Dad: A good deal of Helen's troubles with her kids stems from her divorce. Larry becomes one when he ditches his son on his parents.
- Dysfunctional Family
: I had a man around. He used to wake me up every morning by flicking lit cigarettes at my head
. He'd say, "Hey, asshole, get up and make me breakfast." You know, Ms. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, or drive a car. Hell, you need a license to catch a fish! (shakes his head) But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.
- Ensemble Cast: While Gil's family is the main focus, the film's charm comes from its fully fleshed cast of characters that round out the extended Buckman clan.
- Family Versus Career: Karen struggles with the idea of going back to work or staying home to take care of her kids. She mentions that others criticize her for liking her position as a homemaker.
- Gil as well. His problems at work stem from the fact that he isn't willing to spend more time there in order to be a good father to his kids. His rival, on the other hand, is fully prepared to sacrifice his entire personal life to get ahead.
- Flash Forward: After putting Kevin on second base at a baseball game, Gil has two of these to Kevin's college graduation: in the first Kevin is confident and successful, but in the second (after Kevin failed to make a catch), he is at the top of a tower shooting at everyone in sight with an assault rifle.
- The Gambling Addict: Larry.
- Hidden Depths: Tod isn't as shallow as he seems. Grandma has her moments as well.
- Imagine Spot: When Gil gets his anxiety-ridden child to feel confident enough to play infield, he imagines his son graduating from college a valedictorian, gratefully thanking his dad for his support. When his son's confidence is destroyed by a serious error, Gil has a different Imagine Spot of his child as a crazed clock-tower gunman.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: When Julie offhandedly announces she's pregnant, one of the first things Helen does is head for the liquor cabinet.
- Kids Are Cruel: Gil's concern about Kevin's possible placement in a special education class.
Gil: People are cruel. Especially children.
- Lethal Chef: Helen teases Julie for her poor cooking skills.
Helen: (on Tod and Julie's marriage): I give them six months. Four if she cooks.
- Mama Bear: Don't mess with any of the Buckman children. Ever.
- Nuclear Family: Gil and Karen's family as well as Nathan and Susan's.
- Papa Wolf: See Mama Bear.
- Parental Abandonment: Helen's ex-husband toward his kids and Larry after he dumps Cool.
- Parental Substitute: Tod starts to take over as a male role model in Gary's life. It's a sign of his maturing.
- Parents as People: The film does a great job showing all of the parental characters as fully developed characters with their own flaws, problems, and good sides.
- Parent with New Paramour: Helen starts dating George Bowman, a high school biology teacher. Julie and Gary are surprisingly okay with it. By the end of the film, Helen and George are married and have a newborn baby girl.
- Raised by Grandparents: Once Larry decides to skip town, Frank and Marilyn take on the task of raising their grandson.
- School Play
- School Shooting: Gil's second Flash Forward to Kevin's college graduation.
- Sink or Swim Fatherhood: Larry attempts to take care of Cool for a couple of months after his mother ditches the boy on him. He in turn ditches the boy on his parents.
- Teen Pregnancy: Helen's daughter Julie.
- There Are No Toddlers: Averted with Gil's youngest, Justin.
- Unusual Euphemism
Taylor: Mommy what was that?
Taylor: It was kinda big.
Grandma: It sure was.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Taylor unexpectedly vomits all over Gil in the beginning of the film.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: Most of Gil's story comes from him learning to avoid this trope.
- Where Did We Go Wrong?: After Gil and Karen are told that Kevin needs to see a child therapist, they immediately start pointing fingers at each other.
- Younger Than They Look: The flashback at the start of the movie reveals Gil is supposed to be 35, which to be fair to Steve Martin is ludicrous - he looks way older and was 45 at the time.