Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
189 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
An Intelligent and Solid Film About Divorce
evanston_dad9 November 2007
After a decade of turbulent unrest, American movies began to switch gears and turn their cameras away from war-torn battlefields, political corruption, and general social unease to the more intimate world of family dysfunction. The toll the selfish Baby Boomers began to take on the American family as they grew up and had kids of their own was making itself felt.

"Kramer vs. Kramer" is one of the first of these dysfunctional family dramas that would continue to be so popular throughout the 1980s, and it's one of the best. It gets a rather bum rap now, because it's known as the film that beat "Apocalypse Now" for the 1979 Best Picture Academy Award, but comparing these two films is like comparing a banana to a marinated chicken breast: they're not remotely the same, but can't we enjoy them both? Director/writer Robert Benton doesn't try to do anything fancy with his movie; its strength lies in its performances, those of Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep particularly, playing a divorced couple fighting childishly and selfishly over their son. The courtroom scene in which they duke it out for custody, and in which each is forced to hurt the other in terrible ways, is devastating, and feels authentic. The movie doesn't present Hoffman's solid dad as a hero, or Streep's straying mom as a villain. They're neither good or bad as people -- they're simply bad at being married.

The film is tear-jerky at the finale, but not in a manipulative way. It earns its right to elicit sobs.

Grade: A
53 out of 60 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Brilliant drama
jhaggardjr8 June 2000
"Kramer vs. Kramer" is a terrific drama about an unhappy woman who walks out on her husband and young son. The husband now has to take up the responsibilities of taking care of the boy. As he does, they get to know each other better. But then, the mother and wife returns, and she wants custody of the boy. "Kramer vs. Kramer" has lots of drama with some wonderful bits of comedy thrown in for good measure. Dustin Hoffman won his first Best Actor Oscar for his brilliant performance here. Most people say his performance in "Rainman", which won him his second Oscar, is his best. He was great in that film, but I disagree that its his best. In my opinion, the best performance of Hoffman's career is in this movie. Scene after scene shows us why Hoffman is one of the best American actors working today. He's also funny at times. Also giving a terrific performance is Meryl Streep, who wasn't as well known when she made this film like she is today. Streep, like Hoffman, also won her first Oscar (for Best Supporting Actress) for her work in "Kramer vs. Kramer" as the wife and mother who tries to find herself after walking out on her family. Justin Henry, who was only 8 years old when the film came out, is wonderful as Hoffman and Streep's son. He won an Oscar nomination for his role here, and still to this day he is the youngest performer to receive an Oscar nomination in a competitive category (Best Supporting Actor). Jane Alexander is also fine as a conserned family friend. She too got an Oscar nomination (for Supporting Actress where she lost to co-star Streep). "Kramer vs. Kramer" is a great film from start to finish. Writer-director Robert Benton has made a film that's absolutely unforgettable.

**** (out of four)
69 out of 83 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The whole cast was simply brilliant
Tito-820 June 1999
This outstanding film has about the best acting that you'll ever see, and that alone makes this a must-see. The entire cast is excellent, but then again, it had to be in order to keep up with Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. It didn't take me long to get hooked on this film, and aside from a courtroom scene that is merely good, this is top-notch entertainment. This is a rare film that actually deserved all the Oscar recognition that it received. See it for yourself and you will definitely not be disappointed.
64 out of 78 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
What a terrific acting movie
Kristine28 July 2005
I consider myself lucky that I got to view a wonderful movie with two marvelous actors. "Kramer vs. Kramer" was great to me because I think I could relate to it.

Unfortunately, my parents are divorced. Even though I was older than Billy in this movie, I felt his pain and confusion. Having two parents who you thought were happy and end up hating each other is the worst. Through this movie, actually, I think it made me realize that my parents are people too, and they had as just much pain as my sister and I had.

Back to the movie, this was a good one. Yes, it's dated and Meryl and Dustin are very young. But I would recommend this for a lot of people, because I think most can relate in some way. There are funny, sad, happy, and relieving moments that are carried away terrificly by these great actors. It's a good movie and deserves more credit than a 7.5.

54 out of 66 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Benton's greatest Writing and Directing, his achievement in film winning all the top major Oscars of 1979
Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer is a character based story just like his "Human Stain(2003)" and "The Late Show(1977)". 2 of his 3 Oscar awards are belong to Kramer vs. Kramer, for his success on directing and writing; thus making his film bringing a real life drama with the real life characters so close to us. It's all about ordinary people with our problems. What's different and catchy about Robert Benton's film-making was here we are not trying to put ourselves in the actors' shoes, the actors are trying to put themselves in our shoes.

The story is about the Kramer family which is broken, father and mother are separated, and they have to fight for their son's custody in court against each other. After his wife walks out on him, Ted Kramer's life completely turns upside down. He has to take care of his son, Billy; but at the same time he's very busy with his position in an advertising company. Soon, he loses his job; Billy has an accident; his wife wants Billy to live with her. Against all the problems Ted is facing, he always fought with his heart. Ted's a very emotional and sensitive man, but a strong person at the same time.

Ted Kramer character was a new model for Dustin Hoffman. But since the late 1950s' Elia Kazan's pioneer approach of modern drama making on film, with the basic instalment of the leading actor into a conflict, Ted Kramer's strong character raised Dustin Hoffman's acting to become a legend ; just like it did to Marlon Brando, Sylvester Stallone, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson with 1970s'.

Something more about the movie; the linear cut has been 43 minutes longer than the theatrical release. Most of this cut has included Meryl Streep's deleted scenes. Also Meryl Streep has been originally cast in the role of Ted's one night stand, eventually played by second supporting actress Jobeth Williams. Meryl Streep's role as Joanna Kramer has been primarily offered to Kate Jackson; but due to her contract rules with the TV-series Charlie's Angels, she hasn't been able to accept this role. Joanna Kramer character has been designed to be the leading actress and subject to have more scenes, before director Benton making the last decision of the plot's focus point.

Both Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman today have splendid fame on movie career, and Kramer vs. Kramer was an important milestone for both of their careers. Dustin Hoffman's Oscar speech winning the best actor at the 1979 Academy Awards ceremony is one of the best Oscar speeches of all Academy Awards history; like the movie Hoffman's Oscar speech is also available to watch on Youtube.
20 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Exceptionally touching…
Sanou_san5 March 2008
Certainly when I saw this movie at HBO, I was bit erratic in following the plot, but it catches my attention when seeing Dustin Hoffman in it. Honestly I'm not enthralled watching old movies, but then in the long run it changes my point of view. Seeing this stirring film made me experience once again couching at my seat not noticing my tears suddenly roll down my cheek, and then after, let loose a heavy sigh in realizing the impact of what I've just witness. Kramer vs Kramer was indeed one of the best classical drama movies I've witnessed for a long time that even I, myself couldn't imagine how it touched me. The story was strongly emotional, but is not saturated with such. The characters weren't unrealistic for their roles; they possess qualities that make viewers like them whatever position they have in the film, like the role of Meryl Streep, she was a mother who honestly concede her mistakes at the past but then she's confident to stand up her emotional motives to get what she desires in a fair and square battle. Dustin Hoffman was way too outstanding, I can't even fathom how this guy could play seriously difficult roles and suddenly jump into another role which is completely different, then performed it well. Even though I have already seen the movies a lot of times, when I seat back and lounge at my home scanning worth movies to peer and buy a time for it, catching a glimpse for Kramer vs Kramer will make my experience another worthwhile moment.
11 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Great End to a Great Decade of Best Picture Winners.
tfrizzell15 March 2002
"Kramer vs. Kramer" is probably the weakest winner of the Best Picture Oscar in the 1970s, but that does not mean that this it is not an excellent film that more than delivers. The film deals with a career man (Oscar-winner Dustin Hoffman) who must rear his young son (Justin Henry, the youngest Oscar-nominee ever) after his wife (Oscar-winner Meryl Streep) leaves them with no real explanation. What follows is a heart-touching story about the man who finally learns what it means to be a father and a boy who learns who his father really is. Of course the film becomes heart-rending later as Streep returns after a long absence and wants to take Hoffman to court for custody of their son. "Kramer vs. Kramer" then becomes an intense courtroom drama that has few equals. Robert Benton's Oscar-winning direction and screenplay could have fallen flat several times, but he stays focused throughout and his plan works to near perfection. Of course the aforementioned performances and the performance of Oscar-nominee Jane Alexander are the primary calling cards of the film. Hoffman and Streep are at the top of their careers here and their acts are electric and thunderous from start to finish. All in all, "Kramer vs. Kramer" could have been unintentionally funny or even down-right dull, but the film is so well-made and acted that it succeeds with stunning results. 5 stars out of 5.
28 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Family movie about an advertising executive in which drama takes place when the wife decides to leave him
ma-cortes7 February 2013
This family drama results to a highly acclaimed film that deal with Ted (Dustin Hoffman, James Caan was offered the role of Ted Kramer, but turned it down) , a just-divorced man who must learn to care for his son (Justin Henry) on his own when their wife (Meryl Streep shot her scenes for Manhattan during breaks in filming and Meryl was originally cast in the role of Ted's one-night-stand, eventually played by JoBeth Williams) and mother leaves . There subsequently takes place the ordinary battle for custody when she returns . And then must fight in court to keep custody of him .

Moving and dramatic picture based on the novel by Avery Corman with an excellent plethora of players who give exacting interpretations . It successfully moves you from laughter to tears and back again . Very good acting by Dustin Hoffman as an adverting executive husband , he deservedly won Academy Award and Meryl Streep as his wife and mother who leaves on quest to find herself and also won Oscar to best support actress . Justin Henry was Oscar nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, Henry at age 8 became the youngest ever person to be nominated for this award as well as the youngest ever Oscar nominee in any category, a record which still stands today . Magnificent support cast , such as Jane Alexander as Margaret Phelps , Howard Duff as John Shaunessy , George Coe as Jim O'Connor and JoBeth Williams , whose funny nude scene was optically darkened for the film's theatrical run, to avoid an R rating. Classic soundtrack , as the music played during the opening credits is Antonio Vivaldi's Mandolin Concerto . Colorful cinematography by Nestor Almendros ; director Robert Benton advised cinematographer to base the look and color of the film on the paintings of Piero Della Francesca , Almendros also used the work of David Hockney as an inspiration, and designed a realistic look, using source lighting in rooms with ceilings and available light in exteriors . First of two back-to-back consecutive movies to win the Academy Award for Best Picture that was a contemporary film drama about interpersonal relationships and family bonds , the next year's winner was Ordinary People directed by Robert Redford . Ranked #3 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Courtroom Drama" and was the highest-grossing movie of 1979.

The motion picture was compellingly directed by Robert Benton . Texas director has a varied career as he was an editor of magazine , production designer , set decorator and has written a number of imaginative stories for children . He realized few movies even accounting for those in whose screenplays he wrote as ¨Bonnie and Clyde¨ , ¨There was a crooked man¨ , ¨What's up doc ?¨ , ¨Superman¨ and even ¨Still of the night¨ . His big hit as director was this Weepie ¨Kramer vs Kramer¨ and won him the Oscar for writing and direction , the next was warm-hearted ¨Places in the heart¨ with basic human values and revealed his softer side . Following filmmaking the underrated ¨Nadine¨ , a comic-strip comedy with Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger and ¨Still of the night¨ was a failure and turned out to be a flop at the box office . After that , he directed a gangster movie ¨Billy Bathgate¨ with Nicole Kidman and Dustin Hoffman , ¨Nobody's fool¨ which won Paul Newman an Academy Award nomination and he worked again with Benton four years later on ¨Twilight¨ . Rating : Notable ,above average . The picture will appeal to Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep fans .
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"How much courage does it take to walk out on your kid?"
ackstasis10 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
'Kramer vs. Kramer' succeeds so tremendously, not because it shows us something that we've never seen before, but because it shows us life as we know it. The relationship between Ted Kramer and his young son Billy is really nothing remarkable – almost every father in the world shares a similar bond with his own son – and yet, paradoxically, this is what makes the film such a remarkable achievement: it is a window into real-life. That year, though 'Apocalypse Now (1979)' was undoubtedly the more impressive piece of cinema, the Academy decided to award the top honours to a film that was more intimate and closer-to-home {perhaps they were also hesitant, after 'The Deer Hunter (1978),' to reward a war picture two years in a row}. 'Kramer vs. Kramer' received, not only Best Picture, but also a well-deserved Best Actor {Dustin Hoffman's first win}, Best Director {Robert Benton}, Best Adapted Screenplay {Robert Benton} and Best Actress in a Supporting Role {Meryl Streep's first win}. Young Justin Henry, aged 8 years, became the youngest actor in history to be nominated for a competitive Oscar.

At the beginning of the film, we are immediately aware that Ted Kramer (Hoffman) is not a perfect husband. His commitment to work means that he has largely neglected his strained wife, Joanna (Streep), and, indeed, he isn't even listening to her when she finally announces her intentions to leave him. With Joanna having departed for California in order to "find herself," Ted is left alone to care for their young son Billy (Justin Henry), during which time he must juggle both his working and family lives. As Ted takes up this mammoth task, we notice that, up to this point, he hasn't been much of a father, either, blundering his attempts to make a simple breakfast and having to ask in which grade-level his son belongs. Eventually, however, though it reflects rather poorly on his career, Ted and Billy formulate a truly touching father-son relationship, and, for the first time, Ted seems satisfied with his family life – until, that is, Joanna returns to claim custody of the child.

Perhaps it's just being a male that influenced my emotions, but I absolutely loathed Joanna Kramer. The mere notion of a mother walking out on her son, only to return 15 months later with the expectation of receiving custody, left me absolutely livid, and, were it not for the character's final act, I might even have labelled her as the film's "villain." However, to do so would probably oppose the primary message of the film, which is that both Ted and Joanna are young Billy's parents, and that they must each come to accept this, and to accept that they are both equally responsible for the well-being of their child. The ending of the film, with the elevator door closing to irreparably separate Ted and Joanna once more {destroying any idealistic hopes that the two would get back together} creates an open-endedness to the story that I thought was very suitable. As in real-life, there is no clear resolution to the story, and the future is hopeful but uncertain.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
a rip-off, but a great one
schles-112 March 2006
Although credit should have been given to Dr. Seuess for stealing the story-line of "Horton Hatches The Egg", this was a fine film. It touched both the emotions and the intellect. Due especially to the incredible performance of seven year old Justin Henry and a script that was sympathetic to each character (and each one's predicament), the thought provoking elements linger long after the tear jerking ones are over. Overall, superior acting from a solid cast, excellent directing, and a very powerful script. The right touches of humor throughout help keep a "heavy" subject from becoming tedious or difficult to sit through. Lastly, this film stands the test of time and seems in no way dated, decades after it was released.
38 out of 60 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One of Hoffman's bests
OriginalMovieBuff2114 April 2005
Kramer vs. Kramer is one film to hold on too and not forget. It isn't one of the most popular films ever made and is certainly one of the weakest best picture films, but it does not mean it still isn't important. I thought the movie was well done and made you just want to watch more and more of it. The performances were the best positive for the film and Dustin Hoffman played one of his best roles he's ever done as the lonely workaholic who has to take care of his son, as his wife separates from him. Billy, who is Hoffman's son, played another great performance along with Meryl Streep, playing the depressed mother of Billy. Kramer vs. Kramer is not one of the greatest films and is not a perfect 10, but it succeeds in making the film worth watching and worth caring about it. Certainly, one of Hoffman's best films he's ever done. I highly recommend it.

Hedeen's Outlook: 9/10 ***+ A-
36 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Le Divorce Et L'Infant
Chrysanthepop11 July 2008
One word that comes to mind when describing 'Kramer vs. Kramer' is terrific. Benton's direction and screenplay are solid but what also seems to have worked very well was that he gave his actors the freedom to improvise and was open to their suggestions. Not once, does the film lose focus (credit goes to the fine editing department). It's very much a character driven drama with fabulous acting. Perhaps, it's the freedom the actors had which makes their performances look more natural and their on screen interactions very real. I wonder how cathartic it was for the great Dustin Hoffman to play Ted Kramer as he himself was going through a rough divorce. A brilliant Meryl Streep too was still in the grieving process of having lost her loved one. The fabulous Jane Alexander seems to have a comfortable off screen interaction with her co-stars and she too did a lot of improvisation. The same can be said for child actor Justin Henry. The result is excellent performances by all four actors. The whimsical score (that comprises of famous numbers from composers like Vivaldi) beautifully adds to the mood. These days court room divorce dramas have become quite popular on TV but they lack the authenticity, humbleness and simplicity of 'Kramer vs Kramer'.
15 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Worthy subject matter and well meaning, but with one major problem
jimbo-53-18651129 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is an advertising executive whose career means everything to him. In fact, it means so much to him that his wife Joanna Kramer (Meryl Streep) can no longer tolerate his behaviour anymore. Joanna leaves Ted and also leaves their 8 year old child in his care. However, Ted finds himself in new territory when he now finds that he has to struggle juggling both working full-time and looking after his son.

This is a film that for me will always be relevant - it's actually probably more relevant now than it was when it was made as divorce rates are probably higher now than they were in the 1970's. The film begins OK; Joanna leaves Ted and we find ourselves engaged when Ted is forced to actually take an active role in being a parent. It shows how much he relied on Joanna and clearly he took her for granted (of course he only realises how much she actually did after she left him). This is all fine to begin with, but the problem I had with this film is Joanna's disappearance for 15 months. 15 months? Really? What kind of mother would do that? I expected her to perhaps leave Ted with their kid for a few days possibly a week to give him a lesson in parenting, but I just couldn't accept that any rational parent would disappear for that long. Later in the film, Joanna does explain her reasons for going away, but I still didn't buy it. I don't care what anyone else says, abandoning your kid for that long is unacceptable!!

There are many things that this film gets right and one thing I did like about it is that it does, at least, represent both parents as being flawed individuals. It would have been very easy for the writers to put all the blame at the door of one of the parents, but this would have been both unfair and unrealistic. There are many humorous and heart-felt moments during the film - many of which involved Ted and his son. I'll admit that I was pleased that his son ended up bonding better with Ted towards the end.

Despite the fact that Ted was made out to be the villain of the piece at the start of the film, I personally found that I connected more with his character than I did with Joanna. I think the main reason for this is that I saw that he was flawed as a person rather than bad - look at the pressure he was under at work (even his boss kept telling him that his work is more important than his family - he didn't use those exact words, but it's quite clear that he wanted Ted to put his job before his family). Yes Ted should have remembered that blood is thicker than water, but at the end of the day he needed to keep his job to provide for his family. He made mistakes, but I actually liked his character. It perhaps would have been better if Joanna's character was developed better as we would have then got more of an insight into her characters thoughts/feelings and I would have then been able to connect to her character. However, her character is quite thinly written so it's actually impossible to do this.

Kramer vs Kramer is an enjoyable film that is funny and heart-felt and both Hoffman and Streep were excellent. It probably deserves a 7 or 8 out of 10, but I was so annoyed by Joanna's actions that I had to downgrade it to a 6 out of 10. It's still a film that I would whole heartedly recommend watching though.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Very interesting and revealing film
kurciasbezdalas11 December 2008
I've seen many Dustin Hoffman's movies like Straw Dogs or Rain Man and I liked them, but his characters are much to often calm or even shy persons. I expected him to be in this movie the same as he was in Straw Dogs, but I saw a totally different person. He was much more energetic in this film and kinda reminded me of Al Pacino in Serpico. The movie was very interesting from beginning to the end. I liked the way Dustin Hoffman's character was ready to do just about everything to stay with his son. This movie is also revealing. Personally, I think it shows that people should learn to find a compromise them self without involving other people into issue.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Good but flawed
JerryWeaver4 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This is a good movie, with excellent performances by Dustin Hoffman, Jane Alexander, and the kid Justin Henry. However, unfortunately Meryl Streep's role isn't really very developed and we don't get to understand very well what is going on with her.

The film shows the agony of people going through a contested Court battle over custody. Although the agony is very real for those going through this, it needs to be noted that the more modern approach to a custody dispute is to require the parties to mediate their differences. By stressing the concept of "parenting time", in which time with the child is divided in a reasonable way between the two parents, as opposed to the "either-or" choice depicted in the film, differences can often be worked out in mediation by simply working out a schedule of who has the child when.

SPOILER COMING UP Another problem with the film is the screenwriter's assumption that the mother should receive custody unless she is unfit. This has not been the law for many, many years, if indeed it ever was. In this situation, where the child had bonded so wonderfully with his father, it seems doubtful that even the older Judges would award custody to the mother. Judges will usually continue whatever the status quo arrangement has been, if it is working, as it was in the film. Certainly the mother would not be permitted to come in and litigate custody, simply because she has changed her mind. Rather, it is necessary to show a "change of circumstances" to even get into Court.

The story is told from a decidedly upper middle class viewpoint. Both parents have good jobs, and the film seems to accept the idea that a person's worth as a parent is determined by how good of a job he or she has. During the Court hearing, when the mother says how much she is making, the camera shows the father's surprised reaction. The mother's attorney is eliciting this information to show how she has "gotten herself together", and therefore should now be granted custody. And when the father loses his job right before the hearing, he desperately finds another one because he "knows" he has no chance at custody unless he has a good job. And then during the hearing, the mother's attorney derides him for making less than he had previously made.

I submit that this viewpoint is just plain false. One's worth as a parent does not depend on how much money one makes! Indeed, it could be argued that the reverse is actually true, in that the less time spent on making a living, the more time and energy one has to devote to the care of one's children. The issue is not who has the best job, but who can best care for the children. Who is the most willing to go the parent-teacher conferences, take the children to the doctor, read to them a story at bedtime, etc.

Despite the various flaws in the film, it still rates an 8 out of 10 due to the very strong performances, and the wonderful way it shows the developing relationship between a father and his son.
9 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Good, Not Great
Bolesroor2 May 2005
"Kramer Vs. Kramer" is a movie-of-the-week made moving by grade A+ actors. This is not to discount the film... it isn't terrible, but without the great performances by both Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep- who flesh out their rather-thin characters into nearly realistic people- it is much ado about nothing.

I was disappointed watching the film because there was nothing memorable about it... it was a slight experience marked by a lack of substance. Even on the second viewing many years later I had forgotten the film as quickly as the end credits had rolled.

What WAS important about this movie was that it represented the first-time Hollywood really acknowledged the downfall of the American family, an endangered species being increasingly torn apart by divorce in which the children emerged as victims and pawns. I'm sure it was more sensational at the time of it's release... but today a woman leaving her husband and forcing him to raise their son alone is not going to win Best Picture... a film today with a plot that tame might never get made.

I suspect in fact that "Kramer's" Oscar sweep was due more to the film's amazingly talented actors- both at the top of their game- than the actual film itself. Streep is very good in a role that is *entirely* unsympathetic... we're given no reason for her departure and no rationale for abandoning her child. A lesser actress in this role would have had the audience hissing, but Meryl Streep gives us at least some insight as to Mrs. Kramer's motivations. Dustin Hoffman is great, believable as a father and human enough to engage anyone. The film sidesteps many key issues very cleverly, such as never showing us Mr. & Mrs. Kramer happy together, a necessity since Hoffman and Streep are not only unlikely as man and wife, they also share zero chemistry, unless of course they're out-acting one another from opposite sides of the courtroom.

A film that stands the test of time will linger on your mind, bear repeated viewings, and be just as vital today as the day it was made... "Kramer Vs. Kramer" is long past its expiration date. The performances are still watchable, but not essential in either actor's canon; Hoffman and Streep have both been in many timeless films... "Kramer Vs. Kramer" is not one of them.
9 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Hubby and spouse have a falling out
helpless_dancer17 November 2000
What a great film. Everyone in this one turned in a flawless performance in a story dedicated to showing the ugliness of divorce. This was a solid, serious movie but it also had a humorous side as Hoffman had me rolling the floor as he dealt with fatherhood, completely, for the first time. I especially found the french toast scene roaringly funny. 4 stars.
18 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Split Decision
tedg7 March 2010
This drama is considered successful. I think it is not because it tells us anything special, or that the characters are particularly worthy.

I believe it is because of the way the narrative is constructed. It has two arcs.

One of these has the husband establishing the world. We follow only him, spending time understanding what he is about and how he adapts. Against this domestic environment, the wife has only one speech. This is in a café. She tells us ahead of time that it is a speech that she has prepared and practiced. This is purely within the real world. Since we are presented the man's world only, this insight-by-reactive-speech is unbalanced. We strive to understand. In the end, she succumbs to the guy's reality.

By itself, this narrative arc would be insufficient.

The second arc is the trial. We know courtrooms in film. We know what they mean. They place us as the jury. We cannot leave the theater without making a judgment. In this, our woman also has only one speech.

What makes this work, I believe, is how one layer is imposed on the other. It works less well today that when it was new. In part this is because we've worn out the power of the courtroom genre. When this was fresh, the simple appearance of the place and its rituals would be enough to convey an entire narrative dynamic.

The other is that when it was new, it was a novel idea that a woman could have her own inner life. Believe me, this was true. So the unusual nature of her leaving and her speeches provided a balance because they were so extraordinary. The insertion of a "sexually liberated" woman to sleep once with Hoffman's character — and the fact that she was a lawyer — underscored this urge.

But today, that balancing mechanism is gone. We see today a film about a guy and not a marriage. The balanced dynamic between the two people is gone. The balanced dynamic between the two story arcs is gone as well.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
As close to perfection as it gets
cartoonloon813 February 2013
I first saw this movie as a young child, where my memories of it were more about parents fighting over their child and not much else. However, 33 years later, as I watch this beautiful character piece again through the eyes of a proud and loving father, it's messages and emotionally compelling performances touched my heart and leave a lasting impression.

Everything about this movie is near perfection. From the writing, to the directing, acting and cinematography, as the incredible Dustin Hoffman said in his Oscar acceptance speech after winning Best Actor for Kramer vs. Kramer, everyone that worked on this film is part of the "artistic family" that made it the success it was.

Without giving too much away and ruining the discovery of Ted Kramer, to put it as simply as possible, this movie is about one thing... a man who discovers that his love for his child exceeds any and all self needs and wants, and is willing to make any sacrifice to ensure that his child never feels abandoned again. Through this journey we get to watch a bond develop between a father and son that is very real, yet all to rare, in 1979 or present day.

I have noticed that some people on here have taken this movie to be a "political piece" that it's point is to make a statement that men can raise children as good as women. I think anyone who has drawn that conclusion has robbed themselves of enjoying the relationship journey of Ted Kramer and his son that makes Kramer vs. Kramer one of my favorite movies of all time.

If you have children, do yourself a favor and watch this movie. It's a very touching a true account of how one dedicated and selfless parent can make a huge difference in a child's life.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dustin Hoffman rocks & gets rocked in 1970's NYC Ad World
ebcarrier17 September 2007
This is probably the best cinematic depiction of life in a Manhattan ad agency: the pressure to perform; client and agency demands; the parties; the creativity; the money; the cool surface with powerful corporate undercurrents.

Toss in parenthood for Dustin Hoffman.

The movie is textured and deep. It follows his internal relationship as he tries to understand and live with what's going on; his relationship with Meryl Streep (and her friend, who becomes his friend), and his the relationship with his son.

While Meryl Streep was great, did she set the record for least screen time to win an Oscar? She sure can deliver when she is on, though.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Hoffman vs. Streep.
Boba_Fett113829 June 2007
Over the years "Kramer vs. Kramer" has grown out to be one of the widely best known dramas. And yes this is for a good reason. Every textbook drama element is present in the movie and it's a great example of how to make a good and honest genre movie, without ever cheating the viewers. With that I mean, without ever getting overly sappy or melodramatic, although the movie its drama gets predictable in parts. But isn't that the case in basically every drama-movie?

"Kramer vs. Kramer" above all is a real character movie. I mean, it's not like the story is that much special, or something that hasn't been done before in any other form or shape. It are really the actors that make the characters and emotions come alive. Without its stars this movie wouldn't had risen above the level of an average made for TV movie, if I'm being completely fair.

The concept of the movie also really doesn't sounds too much interesting. A movie about a divorce? Come on! How special can that be. Why should you even ever watch a movie on this subject? Well, let me tell you that "Kramer vs. Kramer" is a very special movie that knows how to move you. I guess that the movie should be especially recognizable and all the more touching for people whose parents really went to a divorce and had a 'fight' over custody.

The biggest strength of the movie is that it all feels very real. Not just the events but especially and foremost the characters and how they act and respond to certain situations. The movie and its drama feels so real because the characters also feel so real. So kudos to Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep (although her role is not as big as you would expect), who both won an Oscar for this movie but also to the young Justin Henry as the young son and Jane Alexander, who both received an Oscar nomination. So the movie was nominated in all acting categories, which should say enough about the acting power that's in this movie. Dustin Hoffman's character really transforms throughout the movie, when he tries to as good as a father as possible. It's really touching to see.

The movie shows how hard parenthood is and foremost shows that there can't be such a thing as the 'perfect parent'. It also helps to give this movie a very honest and straight-forward feeling, like with so many '70's movie also was the case.

A movie that's unique in its sort and is above most other genre-movies.

2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Brilliantly directed, acted, shot and written – a genius piece of character study.
johnnyboyz26 June 2007
In what some call one of the most perplexing decisions made by the Academy when Kramer vs. Kramer was awarded the 1979 best picture Oscar over Apocalypse Now, after viewing the said film; I can say that for whatever reasons they had, they had them on good grounds. The reason I can't say if they're right or not is because I haven't seen Apocalypse Now.

Kramer vs. Kramer is a character study – it's a raw character study of two people called Ted Kramer (A then 42 year old Dustin Hoffman) and Billy Kramer (A then 8 year old Justin Henry) who are living together because Joanna Kramer (A then 30 year old Meryl Streep) walked out on them. What's good is that this happens really early on in the film so there's no need for build up towards Joanna and we don't immediately know the reasons for her walk out which means that after five minutes of her and an hour and half of the other two; who do you think the audience are going to make the link with and, ultimately, root for.

To say that this film merely centres around two people living in a New York apartment is too-a premature statement. The film slowly builds up, biding its time and brilliantly placing its scenes of a different nature as the fist hour to an hour and a half goes by. The way in which Ted Kramer tries to balance his work and the time he spends with Billy proves to us how busy he really was when there were three in the household. Also, the way in which things get more and more desperate as the film wares on is heart and gut wrenching. Sorry if this does sound like a spoiler but Ted's attempts to merely 'blag' his life as he sits on top of a brilliant portfolio and a big promotion business-wise yet home comes-a-calling whenever things look good is simple yet truly gripping film-making. Not only this but we start off with a simple thing like making breakfast and his attempts to do that right – just the way Billy likes it; it doesn't go a hundred per cent correct but it'll do. However, on the scale of things that was just one breakfast the morning after Joanne left, now think of the bigger more important things.

What's also clever about Kramer vs. Kramer are the little things that perhaps go unnoticed. The fact that Joanne is made to look like the antagonist yet barely features for the first third. When she does eventually turn up, the film is turned on its head and the routine we've got used to suddenly flips over and goes down a different route. This just places the audience more and more in Ted's shoes and it's fantastic when you think about it. Also, the fact that one of my favourite sequences involves a long tracking shot early in the morning as Billy walks into the kitchen, notices Ted reading a newspaper, sits down and as the camera reaches its destination; it pauses – expecting something to be said but nothing happens and we cut away to the next scene – fantastic stuff.

With Ted's desperation getting more and more intense as his job and life begin to crumble around him as well as Joanne's re-emergence from the woodwork and her demands – it can be looked at as tragic yet entertaining, wholly depending on whether you've been through a divorce or not only this will only further place you in the shoes of Ted.

Kramer vs. Kramer is a well directed, well acted and well shot film that plays with film conventions and successfully plays with the audience as well – definitely recommended if you're after something smart.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Moving and Affecting Drama...
Jay Addison12 April 2007
This is a story of a family. The movie begins with the wife, Joanna, leaving her husband, Ted in charge of their seven year-old son, Billy. Throughout the next year, Ted and Billy learn to live with each other. At first, this young boy cannot comprehend that his mother has left him. Ted continues to work hard at being the parent his son needs. Eventually, both have all but forgotten their mom. They live in perfect harmony now. Then the mother reappears. She hasn't been present for almost a year and a half, and now she is wanting custody of this confused little boy. And the court seems to side with her.

It takes a while afterward for the true meaning of this movie to settle in. It's a beautiful story and a great cast, but it also touches on a very serious issue. The court system of today favors women over men again and again and again. This movie shows the disastrous and ridiculous effects of that. That's why it's such an important film.

The cast really is brilliant here. Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep both give Oscar-deserving and winning performances. Hoffman is exquisite as the struggling and loving father Ted. Ms. Streep gives a superb performance as the somewhat confused mother. You'll hate her sometimes and truly feel for her others, but she acts beautifully. The little boy, Justin Henry, is also excellent.

Watch this movie. It won five Oscars and deserved them all. The cast is great, the story beautiful, and the message important. 7/10 stars!

Jay Addison
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Excellent Divorce Drama!
jbartelone26 January 2007
This is a wonderful movie about the trials and tribulations of divorce and its often shattering effect on a broken family with their young son caught up in a bitter custody battle. The greatest scenes are the beautifully moving interactions with Dustin Hoffman and his adoring 6-year son, played magnificently by young Justin Henry. The performances are very realistic. The directing is face-paced, and no one at any time seems superficial in their roles. Anyone who has gone through, or is going through a divorce, or even a bad marriage, will find some great meaning and insight from this movie.

The only drawback is Meryl Streep. I always believed that she was an over-rated actress. But in Kramer vs. Kramer, there is something missing from her character that I think creates an aloofness in the scenes that she is in. I could tell from her body language very early on in this movie that she had strong emotional problems. Throughout the film, she seems so quiet and unsure of herself that you begin to feel even MORE sensitivity for the real troubling issues facing Ted (Dustin) and Billy. (Justin) Their scenes together are SOOOO well done that you really see them as a father and son and not actors. There is also no sappiness or soap opera dialog to muddle this fine story. I must also give credit to director Robert Benton for a movie that pulls at the heart strings many times.

This is a very fine film.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
You Don't Divorce Your Kids...
ijonesiii3 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
KRAMER VS KRAMER won five Oscars, including Best Picture of 1979. This intense and deeply moving family drama follows an advertising executive whose life is turned upside down when his wife of eight years, walks out on him, leaving him to care for his son and build a relationship with him he never had. Robert Benton's incisive screenplay presents us flawed, but real human beings with hearts, souls, and brains. For instance, in the scene where Joanna announces to Ted she's leaving him, she doesn't just storm out the door...she gives him the keys, her credit cards, the dry cleaning ticket, tells him which bills have been paid, and informs him she has withdrawn from their bank account the same amount of money she had when they were married, no more. This decision to leave was not a was thought about and Joanna felt, with no other option than to leave, if she was leaving she was going to do it properly...and with no specific plan in mind, she did not think it right to take Billy. Dustin Hoffman won an Oscar for his Ted Kramer, a man so obsessed with bringing home the bacon, he had no clue that his life at home was crumbling into pieces. Meryl Streep also won an Oscar playing Joanna, the unhappy wife who we feel sympathy for in the beginning of the film but that all changes when she returns for her son. Hoffman is at the top of his form here. I always tear up during the scene where he tries to explain to Billy (Justin Henry, Oscar nominee) why his mom left and he does it all in a stage whisper or when he meets Joanna upon her return and slams her drink into a wall (a Hoffman moment not in the script that Streep was not told about in order to get a natural reaction). Justin Henry hits all the right notes as Billy, the confused little boy who doesn't know why his mom is gone and doesn't know how to communicate with his father. Jane Alexander also got an Oscar nod as Ted and Joanna's neighbor, Margaret, who has switched allegiances by the film's conclusion. This is an intense family drama but there are laughs to be had here too...Billy and the chocolate chip ice cream...Billy pouting because Ted is late picking him for a party...Billy catching his dad's one night stand (JoBeth Williams) on her way to the bathroom stark naked, but it's the moments of human drama you remember...Ted running through Manhattan with Billy in his arms to get to the emergency room after BIlly falls off the jungle gym...Ted getting fired right before beginning his custody battle and instead of making a scene, he tells the guy in a whisper..."Shame on you." And of course, the finale where Joanna tells Ted she's not taking Billy, which I found a little hard to swallow. Why would she go to all that trouble of suing for custody and then just change her mind? But this is a small quibble regarding a wonderful movie, masterfully directed by Robert Benton and flawlessly performed by a top-notch cast. A must-see.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews