Parents' Guide to


By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

'80s tearjerker portrays elderly with depth, dignity.

Movie PG 1989 117 minutes
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This is another example of Jack Lemmon's limitless and broad acting talents, but also much more. A tearjerker written and directed by the creator of Family Ties -- those familiar with that classic '80s sitcom will see the similarities in style and story -- Dad fearlessly explores life and death and the meaning of it all, what it means to be a family, the cycle of life, and the ups and downs of relationships. The stresses and difficulties in being a caretaker for a parent is shown in detail, as well as the difficulties in comprehending the onset of dementia and senility in the elderly. And yet, whereas so many elderly characters in movies and TV are little more than stereotypical punch lines lazily tossed out with no respect, this movie brings a dignity, grace, and humor to aging and the aged.

It's an all-star cast -- besides Lemmon, Ted Danson, and Olympia Dukakis, there is a young Ethan Hawke and a mustachioed Kevin Spacey -- who bring the depth, grace, and humor that this story and characters need. They eschew smug cynicism and Hallmark Channel sentimentality for something deeper. Even as the endings to the secondary stories feel a little too conveniently tied up and resolved, it's still a solid movie with universal themes, nearly forgotten decades later, but worth a look.

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