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Parenthood (SE)
DVD disk
05.08.2007 By: Quigles
Parenthood (SE) order
Director:
Ron Howard

Actors:
Steve Martin
Dianne Wiest
Dennis Dugan

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The ever-growing Buckman family go about their lives, attempting to overcome whatever difficulties befall them... while trying hard not to strangle each other in the process.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The best kind of movie is one that gives its audience something to relate to. And that's part of what makes PARENTHOOD so great; no matter who you are, you can relate to it. The movie wonderfully balances about a dozen different character subplots and relationship stories while including every possible side of the family spectrum (whether you're a single mom, a grouchy grandparent, a troubled teenager, etc.).

Of course, some of the stories are more interesting than others, with my least favorite being the unrealistic portrayal of Rick Moranis (what ever happened to this guy?) as an overbearing father who wants his daughter to grow up to be a super-genius. It's funny initially, but it doesn't carry any of the emotional impact that the other plot threads have.

I at first thought the same of Steve Martin's storyline, as it seemed to exist more for the reason of having silly slapstick gags than anything else. Luckily though, his stuff in the film eventually becomes some of the most fulfilling. He also becomes, I'd assume, the most relatable character in the bunch - just a normal father trying to balance work, complications with his kids, and hardships with the missus (played wonderfully by Mary Steenburgen).

The highlight of the film for me though, is everything surrounding Dianne Wiest's character. She plays a single mom of two kids, one of whom is in desperate need of a father (and probably some counseling), and the other who's ruining her future by dating a friendly deadbeat (played hilariously by Keanu Reeves, in BILL & TED mode). It was especially cool seeing a very young Joaquin Phoenix as Wiest's son, who proves that he was still as good an actor back in '89 as he is now.

It's Weist's story, and the stories that accompany her's, that give this film its dramatic core. They're also the best at balancing the oftentimes laugh-out-loud humor (much of it sexual, to my surprise), with everything being as painfully honest and heartfelt as it is hilarious. The rest of the movie does a solid job of capturing this feeling as well, helping to make this one of the most compelling and satisfying character-driven dramadies I've seen in quite a while.
THE EXTRAS
For a Special Edition, there's not a lot to look at here. At least it's a step up from the previous barebones affair.

Art Imitating Life (27:45): Various aspects of the film are discussed and analyzed in this retrospective making-of featurette. Director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer, and the film's writers all show up to offer their insights, and some of the more memorable scene's origins are explored. Fairly interesting.

Family Reunion (19:20): New and old interviews with the cast are compiled in this featurette discussing the assembling of the actors for the film. Director Ron Howard and casting director Jane Jenkins also share their thoughts and reflections.

Words and Music (6:24): This brief featurette takes a look at composer Randy Newman, whose theme song earned him an Oscar nomination.

Also included is the film's Theatrical Trailer.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
With its ensemble cast and well-realized script, PARENTHOOD gives all viewers something to enjoy. This Special Edition certainly leaves something to be desired, but it's still a worthwhile purchase for all fans looking for an excuse to buy the film. And if you've still yet to see it, then please consider a rental. Unless you hate all things family related, you'll probably have as good a time as I did.

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