Reviews: Parenthood

Parenthood: The Movie

Director Ron Howard teams with Steve Martin for a heartwarming comedy about life's most rewarding occupation: parenthood.

...So writes the first sentence of the Netflix description. This doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the quality of the work. Sure, it could be good- to a certain kind of person. But to many it looks like it will leave a very saccharine flavor lingering in the mouth, the viewer feeling rather blase at it is.

But, regardless, I gave it a chance. And frankly, so should you. What comes off sounding like a fairly routine Sunday matinee fare is actually surprisingly engaging. While much of the thanks for this goes to the great case (which somehow even includes Keanu Reeves), a lot of it is simply due to tight scripting. This movie is surprisingly dark. It may not be Black Comedy in the sense that it involves, say, hitmen or prostitutes or corporate executives, but it is most definitely one in that some very seriously heavy emotional issues are played with here- issues that are not coincidentally directly related to the process of Parenthood. They're not easily disposed of like the central conflict in a half-hour Dom Com. In fact, it's hard to escape the impression that a lot of this stuff (kids needing psychiatric therapy, kids growing up without a father) has far-reaching implications that won't be settled until long after the film stops rolling.

Here's the thing, though- that's OK. Yes, things can be tough and hard to deal with. Be that as it may, worrying too much isn't going to accomplish anything. The best successes any character makes in this movie is when they go for the Indy Ploy and stop making such a big effort to plan things. The more you plan, the more likely it is that things will go haywire and you'll just end up freaking out. So really, your best bet is to hope things go haywire in a funny manner and stop trying to force it to go your way.

If you don't take anything else from my review, then take this- don't dismiss this movie thinking it will be about the glorification of the nuclear family. Like most real families, these people have more important things to do than pat each other on the back about how cool they are.