Gil Buckman, a neurotic 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, daughter Taylor and youngest son 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 the two have a reconciliation of sorts with Frank telling Gil that worry for one’s children never ends. When a hired cowboy character fails to show up at his son’s birthday party, Gil dresses as a cowboy himself and assumes the role.
His sister, Helen, is a divorced bank manager whose ex-husband wants nothing to do with their children, Garry and Julie. Garry, who has just entered puberty, is quiet, withdrawn, and likes to be alone in his room with a mysterious paper bag. At first Helen worries that the bag 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, get married, Julie becomes pregnant, and Tod moves into Helen’s house. When Helen asks Tod to talk with Garry, Tod is able to reassure Garry that his obsession with girls and sex is normal for a boy his age, something that is a relief to Garry. This also increases Helen’s respect for Tod. Eventually she supports Tod and her daughter’s relationship to the extent that when Julie wants to break up with him, Helen orders her to face her fears and to support him.
Gil’s other sister, Susan, is a middle school teacher married to a scientist, Nathan. They have a precocious daughter, Patty. Susan wants more children, but Nathan is more interested in their daughter’s cognitive development. Susan lashes out by compromising her diaphragm as a plan to get pregnant against Nathan’s wishes. She eventually gets so frustrated that she leaves him. Nathan eventually comes to one of her classes and serenades her to win her back, promising her he will try to change. Susan agrees to move back home.
Parenthood is a 1989 American comedy-drama 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.
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”.
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Steve Martin, Tom Hulce, Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves, Harley Jane Kozak
Screenplay by: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
Production Design by: Todd Hallowell
Cinematography by: Donald McAlpine
Film Editing by: Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill
Costume Design by: Ruth Morley
Set Decoration by: Nina Ramsey
Art Direction by: Christopher Nowak
Music by: Randy Newman
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: August 2, 1989