18 October 2017

FABULOUS FILMS PRESENTS: STEVE MARTIN IN 'PARENTHOOD.' (1989)




PARENTHOOD. (1989) DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD. PRODUCED BY BRIAN GRAZER. STARRING STEVE MARTIN, MARY STEENBURGEN, RICK MORANIS, TOM HULCE, JASON ROBARDS, DIANNE WIEST, HARLEY KOZAK, MARTHA PLIMPTON, KEANU REEVES, JOAQUIN PHOENIX, EILEEN RYAN, HELEN SHAW AND JASEN FISHER. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This enjoyable and highly entertaining romp about the toughest but most rewarding job on Earth- being a parent!- sees iconic funnyman Steve Martin supported by an absolutely stellar cast of fellow actors and actresses.

Steve Martin himself plays Gil Buckman, an ordinary decent bloke who's trying to balance home and family life with a career in which all the best jobs and promotions are going to young single guys with no ties and no responsibilities. Ain't it the truth...?

Gil is desperately trying to be the father to his kids that he himself would have wanted when he was growing up. Although he had a father, he wasn't the hands-on, emotionally present Dad that Gil wanted and needed. Now Gil's trying to achieve the virtually impossible- being the perfect Dad- while life keeps chucking annoying and sometimes even devastating curveballs at him and the Missus.

His wife Karen is already as near to being the perfect wife and mother as it's possible to get. Played by the beautiful and sweet-faced Mary Steenburgen (DEAD OF WINTER, ELF, PHILADELPHIA), Karen Buckman cooks, sews, bakes and stays home with the kids while Gil goes to work, and she also supports her hubby emotionally every step of the way.

Gil and Karen have a lovely relationship, maybe one of the sweetest on-screen marriages on record. They still find each other attractive and sexy after all these years of wiping snotty noses and changing shitty diapers, and even when they fight and grouse and bitch and argue as all couples do, you can see the love that underpins their relationship and will see them safely home through any stormy weather.

Their son Kevin ('We need to talk about Kevin,' and boy, do they...!) is probably the source of all their biggest problems right now. Having an autistic son myself, I recognise the signs in Kevin, whom Gil and Karen are shell-shocked to discover is being recommended for Special Education classes by his school, who can no longer continue to teach this child with obvious special needs.

My family and I are only at the beginning of what we call our 'Autism Journey' right now. I can't even remotely encourage Gil and Karen with the words, don't worry, folks, it gets easier, because as far as we can see right now it only gets harder, and then it gets even harder still. A parent's unending love for their child is the only constant in the situation. We're hoping it'll be at least part of what gets us through it. If we get through it, and it's a big if...!

Rick Moranis (LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS) is brilliant too as Gil's uptight and single-minded brother-in-law Nathan. Nathan is going overboard totally in trying to turn his and his wife Susan's small daughter Pattie into a child prodigy-slash-Little Einstein-or-Mozart, and if he's not careful it might just cost him his marriage.

Jason Robards (PHILADELPHIA, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST) plays Gil's emotionally neglectful father Frank. Frank foolishly favours his irresponsible waster of a youngest son Larry over all of his other children, each of whom is worth a dozen Larries.

Larry will only break his old heart repeatedly and send him to the poorhouse with his gambling debts. Will Frank have his eyes finally opened by Larry's continuous opting out of his responsibilities and realise that he has other children besides this scurrilous little messer?

To be honest, Frank's treatment of his lovely wife Marilyn needs some serious smartening up as well. The way he is now, he doesn't remotely deserve her. If he wakes up to Larry's
cold-hearted treachery in time, he might just be in time to save his own marriage. That'd sure be Cool, geddit...? See what I did there, folks...?

I love Dianne Wiest (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS with Vincent Price and Johnny Depp) as Gil's sweet-natured but severely put-upon divorced sister Helen. As the single parent of a boy and a girl myself, I totally identify with her struggle to bring up her kids while simultaneously trying to shield them from their deadbeat father's heartbreaking indifference and holding down a job.

The funniest scenes in the whole film are when she accidentally picks up her daughter's photographs from the kiosk instead of her own. Martha Plimpton as Julie and a ridiculously young Keanu Reaves as Tod have been hilariously, if unwisely, 'recording their love.' Mom nearly has a heart attack when she sees the photos. Talk about a 'Kodak moment...!'

A really young Joaquin Phoenix, billed as Leaf Phoenix in the credits, plays Helen's troubled teenaged son Garry, who carries video porn around with him in a grocery sack and is nearly dead inside thanks to what he sees as his father's desertion and his treachery for starting a new family with another woman. Poor Garry. When the feather-brained Tod is the nearest thing he can manage to a father figure, it's definitely time that Mom started dating again...

I also love Gil and Karen's youngest son Justin, the curly-haired little cherub who likes to butt things with his head and wear a cowboy's holster while otherwise fully in the nip, and also Frank's ancient mother-in-law. She's a terrific comedic character.

Grandma is a game old gal with an unending store of good sensible homespun wisdom and a vague memory of how great sex used to be with her deceased hubby. Check out the scene also in which Karen attempts to give Gil a blow-job on the motorway. ('Show him, honey...!')

The marvellous news is that PARENTHOOD is now out on DVD release as part of a Steve Martin box-set from FABULOUS FILMS. The other three films in the box-set are: BOWFINGER with Eddie Murphy, the spoof film noir DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID and the hilarious army comedy SGT. BILKO. Buy it now and wallow freely in some really great comedy starring one of the best and funniest comic actors of our time, Steve Martin. I promise you that it's well worth your time and money.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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