Parenthood (film)

Parenthood is a 1989 American family comedy film with an ensemble cast that includes Steve Martin, Tom Hulce, Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Joaquin Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, and Dianne Wiest.

Parenthood (film) poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRon Howard
Produced byBrian Grazer
Screenplay byLowell Ganz
Babaloo Mandel
Story byLowell Ganz
Babaloo Mandel
Ron Howard
Music byRandy Newman
CinematographyDonald McAlpine
Edited byDaniel P. Hanley
Mike Hill
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • August 2, 1989 (1989-08-02)
Running time
124 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[1]
Box office$126 million[2]

The film was directed by Ron Howard, who assisted in developing the story with screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. Much of it is based on the family and parenting experiences of Howard, Ganz, Mandel, and producer Brian Grazer, who have at least 17 children among the four of them. Principal photography was filmed in and around Orlando, Florida with some scenes filmed at the University of Florida. It was nominated for two Academy Awards: Dianne Wiest for Best Supporting Actress and Randy Newman for Best Song for "I Love to See You Smile".

The film was adapted into a NBC television series in 1990 and 2010. While the first series was canceled after one season, the second series ran for six seasons.


Gil Buckman, a St Louis sales executive, is trying to balance his family and his career. When he finds out that his eldest son, Kevin, has emotional problems and needs therapy and that his two younger children, Taylor and Justin, both have issues as well, he begins to blame himself and questions his abilities as a father. When his wife, Karen, becomes pregnant with their fourth child he is unsure he can handle it.

Gil is also frustrated and fearful that the financial burdens of another child and office politics at work are turning him into the detached workaholic he despised his own father, Frank, for being. Humbled by family and work issues, Gil opens up to Frank about his doubts as a parent. Frank tells him that he worries too much, and they have a reconciliation of sorts with Frank telling Gil that worry for one's children never ends.

Gil's older sister, Helen, is a divorced bank manager whose wealthy good-for-nothing ex-husband wants nothing to do with their kids, Garry and Julie, and spends more time with his own second family. Garry, who has just entered puberty, is quiet and withdrawn and likes to be alone in his room with a mysterious paper bag. At first Helen worries that it contains drugs or alcohol, but it actually contains pornography.

Julie is still in high school, but is not interested in her education. She and her boyfriend, Tod Higgins, get married, she becomes pregnant, and Tod moves into Helen's house. Helen asks Tod to talk with Garry believing he would be more comfortable confiding to another male. Tod is able to reassure Garry that his obsession with girls and sex is normal for a boy his age, to Garry's relief. This also increases Helen's respect for Tod. Eventually she supports Tod and Julie's relationship to the extent that when Julie wants to break up with Tod, Helen orders her to face her fears and work on their relationship. Helen also starts dating Garry's science teacher, giving Garry a father figure he has long been without.

Gil and Helen's younger sister, Susan, is a middle school teacher married to scientist and researcher Nathan Huffner. They have a precocious daughter, Patty. Susan wants more children but Nathan is more interested in Patty's cognitive development. Susan lashes out by eating junk food and compromises her diaphragm as a plan to get pregnant against Nathan's wishes. She eventually gets so frustrated that she leaves Nathan, who eventually comes to one of her classes and serenades her to win her back promising her he will try to change. She agrees to move back home.

Second youngest Larry, is the black sheep of the family but is Frank's favorite. Rather than settle into a career, he has drifted through life trying to cash in on get-rich-quick schemes. He has recently shown up along with his biracial son, Cool (the result of a brief affair with a Las Vegas showgirl), asking to borrow money from Frank. It soon becomes apparent that he needs it to pay off gambling debts ($26,000 worth) or he will be killed. Frank is disillusioned but still loves him and tries to help. Frank refuses to bail him out completely, but offers to teach him the family business so he can take over for Frank who has to put off retirement to pay off the debt. However, Larry instead suggests another get-rich-quick scheme which involves him going to Chile. Frank agrees to look after Cool knowing that Larry will most likely never return.

The family is reunited at the hospital when Helen gives birth to a daughter. Frank holds Cool. Tod and Julie are together, raising their son. Susan is visibly pregnant. Gil and Karen are now the parents of four.



Box officeEdit

The film opened at #1 in its opening weekend, earning $10 million. It eventually grossed over $100 million domestically and $126 million worldwide.[2]

Critical receptionEdit

The film received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 91% "Certified Fresh" rating, based on 55 reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Bolstered by a delightful cast, Parenthood is a funny and thoughtfully crafted look at the best and worst moments of family life that resonates broadly."[3] On Metacritic, it holds a score of 82 out of 100, based on 17 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."[4] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[5]

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: Dianne Wiest for Best Supporting Actress and Randy Newman for Best Song for "I Love to See You Smile". It was also nominated by the American Film Institute for their 100 Years...100 Laughs series.[6]

Television adaptationsEdit

The film was adapted twice to TV: as a 1990 series and again in 2010.

1990 seriesEdit

Parenthood was one of several failed movie-to-TV adaptations in the 1990–91 season, also including Baby Talk on ABC's TGIF (a follow up to Look Who's Talking), Ferris Bueller on NBC and Uncle Buck on CBS.[7] It ran for 12 episodes and was not renewed for a second season.[8]

2010 seriesEdit

In April 2009, filming began on a new television adaptation loosely based on the film.[9] Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia play the parents, joined by Peter Krause, Mae Whitman, Erika Christensen, Dax Shepard, Lauren Graham and Monica Potter.[10] It ran for six seasons and ended on January 29, 2015.[11]


  1. ^ [1] Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Parenthood (1989)". Box Office Mojo. 2007-03-05. Retrieved 2010-01-07.
  3. ^ "Parenthood". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
  4. ^ "Parenthood". Metacritic. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
  5. ^ "Cinemascore :: Movie Title Search". 2018-12-20. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  6. ^ "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs Nominees". American Film Institute (AFI). Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  7. ^ Carter, Bill. Carter, Bill (1990-12-17). "Hear About a Film That Became A Hit TV Series? You're Not Alone". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Parenthood (1990)". Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  9. ^ "NBC Order Pilot Of Parenthood". 2009-01-29. Archived from the original on 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  10. ^ "Monica Potter Joins NBC's Parenthood". 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2009-05-02.
  11. ^ "Lauren Graham Says Her Character's Ending on Parenthood Is 'Satisfying'". Time. Retrieved 2020-07-27.

External linksEdit