Parenthood (1988): Ron Howard’s Ensemble Comedy

This middlebrow ensemble comedy presents a chronicle of four suburban siblings and their respective families over the course of a single summer.

Screenwriters Babaloo Mandel, Lowell Ganz, and director Ron Howard (who contributed some story ideas) treat the material with the necessary light comedic touch, but the whole thing is too much of a TV sitcom.

The quartet of siblings includes Gil Buckman (Steve Martin) and his wife Karen (Mary Steeenburgen), who have only  several months to help their oldest son Kevin (Jasen Fisher) overcome his behavior problems before he’ll be relegated to special-education classes.

Gil’s difficult relationship with his own father, Frank (Jason Robards), has led him to become a super-dad for his three kids, so he takes his son’s difficulties personally.

Gil’s sister, Helen (Dianne Wiest), is trying to raise a moody adolescent son (Leaf Phoenix) and an independent-minded daughter (Martha Plimpton) with no help from her rich ex-husband, who’s more interested in his new wife and family.

Gil and Helen’s sister, Susan (Harley Jane Kozak), lives with anal-retentive husband, Nathan (Rick Moranis), whose overachiever zeal infects even their toddler daughter.

When the long-lost brother Larry (Tom Hulce) show up with yet another get-rich-quick scheme, he brings with him a surprise addition to the family.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Supporting Actress: Dianne Wiest

Song: I Love to See You Smile, music and lyrics by Randy Newman

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

Dianne Wiest, already an Oscar winner lost the award to Brenda Fricker, who won for My Left Foot.

The Song Oscar went to Alan Menken and Howard Ashman for “Under the Sea,” from the movie The Little Mermaid.



Running time: 124 minutes.

Directed By: Ron Howard

Theatrical release: August 2, 1989.

DVD: March 31, 1998