Kramer vs Kramer

Rated: PG

        Kramer vs. Kramer is one of those movies that I don’t really remember ever having heard of directly, but knew in the back of my mind was one of those classics that had to be seen. I didn’t know who was in it, or even what it was about; but when I saw it pop up on the On-Demand on my TV I knew I had to give it a go.

                I have to admit that the description the TV provided me with for this movie was a bit off. It said that this was the story of two parents battling each other in court for custody of their son. While that description isn’t entirely untrue, a better description would be something like: “When his wife leaves, a father must learn how to be a parent to his young son, as well as fight for custody of him.” Because it’s not that there’s no court battle, just that it’s not the main focus of the movie.

                Before writing any review I often spend time reading what other reviewers have written for the given movie. Sometimes they are at odds with each other about whether or not whatever movie is good. As far as Kramer vs. Kramer, the other reviews are almost unanimous in their praise of it. They say how great the direction was, how touching and real it was, how ground-breaking it was; the list goes on and on. This movie even won many awards including Oscars for Best Director and Best Actor when it came out, but I’m holding to the “a movie’s only as good as its competition that year.” Not to say this isn’t a good movie, its just not really the great classic I came to expect.

                That said, Dustin Hoffman’s performance as the dad, Ted Kramer, was good. He portrays the confusion and hardships of a father learning his role very well. Does he make you feel for them (himself and the kid), yes. Is it an Oscar worthy performance, I’d say no. But then again, I don’t usually agree with what The Academy thinks is great anyhow.

              I think the true star of this movie was the boy Billy, played by Justin Henry.  At just 7 years old when chosen for this role he certainly outperformed the old pros in my eyes. Although it probably helped that he and Dustin Hoffman improvised many of their lines in their scenes together.

                All in all is Kramer vs Kramer worth seeing? Of course! Just keep in mind that times were different and that “a movie’s only as good as its competition that year” and you’ll be fine.

Kramer vs Kramer is rated PG, was directed by Robert Benton and stars Dustin Hoffman, Justin Henry, Margaret Phelps and Meryl Streep. Its available now on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download(as well as the TV’s On-Demand and probably an old VHS somewhere).