Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Better than Average
1 hr. 57 min.
Year of Release:
October 27, 1989 (wide)
“Dad” is a serious drama about family relationships; almost everyone should find something in it to identify with.
The routine of retired couple Jake and Bette Tremont (Jack Lemmon, Olympia Dukakis) is changed forever when Bette, who is the dominant partner, has a heart attack. Son John (Ted Danson) takes time out of his corporate world to stay with Jake until Bette recovers. Father and son have a great time getting to know each other again, and for a while Jake improves quite a bit; but then, before Bette is completely well, Jake gets sick too. From there on, the film is an emotional roller coaster that must be seen to be appreciated. John’s son Billy (Ethan Hawke) also shows up, having been closer to his grandpa than to John ever since John’s divorce; so the need for restored communication actually spans three generations. Jack Lemmon’s lookalike son Chris plays a younger Jake in a series of dreamy, browntoned scenes of farm life; the significance of these scenes is revealed later in the film.
Overall, I recommend this film as very well done. There’s a minimal amount of profanity; some quarrelling (both within the family, and between the family and the medical staff) over how to deal with things; a few brief statements by Bette about how Jake has always been oversexed and is still at it at age 78. For that, and for a few items I can’t explain without giving away the plot, I would consider it inappropriate for children under 10 or so. But for anyone old enough to handle the things I’ve mentioned, it’s an excellent example of family members forgiving each other’s mistakes and re-connecting. A few of the plot elements are farfetched; but for anyone who’s had to care for an aging parent or an aging spouse, a large portion of this film will ring true. Have a box of Kleenex handy.