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(Review originally written at 2 May 2006)

This might very well be the most balanced- and excellent mix of drama and comedy I have ever seen. I already loved "Parenthood" when I was a kid and I perhaps love it even more now as a grownup, when I recently watched it again.

Perhaps the greatest strength of this movie is in its realism. Sure every character and event in the movie are somewhat silly and over-the-top but yet they also feel like very real problems and persons at the same time. This due to the great portrayal of the drama elements in the movie. These are real, recognizable or not, family-issues portrayed in this movie. It handles some delicate subjects but never without a smile as well. It makes this movie both touching and warm to watch, as well as fun and amusing.

Reason why both the dramatic and comical elements all work so well is also thanks to the cast. The movie has many well known actors in it. Tom Hulce especially impressed me and also Steve Martin was a great leading man, from the period when he was still funny in movies. Solid as always were Mary Steenburgen and Dianne Wiest. Rick Moranis surprisingly doesn't play a loser this time but he still is a nutty character in the movie. He shows in this movie that he also has some real acting skills. Keanu Reeves is also good in his role, from the period when he appeared mostly in just comedies. The still very young Joaquin Phoenix also plays a great and quite big role in the movie.

It has some totally unforgettable moments in it, both comedy-wise as in its drama. It all makes this movie one of the most warm and subtle movies ever made. It doesn't try to be funny, it doesn't try to be melodramatic. The end result of it all is an extremely well balanced and crafted mix of drama and comedy that works on both levels. You can watch this movie as a drama or as a comedy, so fans of both the genre will be pleased with this movie that surely does not disappoint in any way.

An early subtle Ron Howard masterpiece, that is criminally underrated here on IMDb.

9/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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