Kramer vs. Kramer – 1979

Meryl Streep is, hands down, my favorite actress and has been ever since Sophie’s Choice came out.  Having written that, I occasionally skip over some of her movies because I think they look boring.  Not a judgment, really, just how I feel.  But that wasn’t the case with Kramer vs. Kramer so, honestly, I have no clue as to why I’ve never seen this film.  Luckily, I noticed it was on (pay) cable today (so it isn’t edited) and decided to dvr it while I finished watching The Shawshank Redemption for the 1000th time (more about Shawshank in another entry).

I’ve never understood why parents tell their kids to not let the bedbugs bite after telling them to sleep tight.  How could any kid sleep tight thinking there were bugs in bed with him/her.

I didn’t realize this movie got right to it.  No messing around.  A tearful goodbye to her son and a run to the closet so she can start packing.  I wonder how many people immediately disliked Streep’s character in this moment?

And then there’s Dustin Hoffman staying late at work really not even working just shooting the shit.  While he’s making nice with the boss, we watch Meryl pack her bags and include one of her young son’s t-shirts.  So while we are watching his wife ready herself to leave, Hoffman is getting promised the moon from his boss in the form of a new deal that will make them both more successful.

It’s obvious he doesn’t have a clue what’s coming.

What a great scene.  She tells him she’s leaving him while he’s ignoring her and still dealing with work issues.

Meryl’s face looks different.  Yeah, I know age and all but she’s definitely had some work done somewhere.  She’s still fabulous.

You wouldn’t think Hoffman and Streep will make a good couple but the chemistry is immediate even for people who are breaking up.  Man, back in 1979 a woman leaving her husband AND her son had to be a huge scandal.  “I don’t love you anymore” is definitely the way to end a marriage.

So he seems to be in denial.  Thinking she didn’t leave for good because in her haste to get out of the apartment she forgot her suitcase.  He’s denying what is happening in his life and focusing on work not the fact that his wife just left.  Hoffman’s breakdown is interesting and he blames their neighbor, Jane Alexander, who is divorced and impressed that Streep could walk away from an unhappy marriage (although she seems stunned that she left their son as well).

I suppose nowadays the idea that a guy wouldn’t know how to take care of  his son is dated (or at least I hope it is).  A spastic Hoffman trying to make breakfast for his son and obviously not knowing anything about his own kitchen is really amusing but turns sad when he burns his hand on the pan and yells “God damn her!”.  It still feels like he’s more upset about how this has messed with his life and not that his marriage is in tatters.  Hell, he doesn’t even know what grade his son is in.  Hard to feel sorry for him at this point.

Good lord, it makes me mad watching some older movies.  Hoffman’s boss is giving him shit about wanting to take care of his son AND do his job.  The HORROR!

Kid and dad don’t mesh well.  Kid wants to play, dad wants to work.  Juice ruins dad’s work.  Dad rants at son.  I really hate people, in real life, who can’t deal with their own children.  You have a kid, learn how to deal with them.  Of course, that’s one of the points of this film, I guess.  Both parents should be taking an active interest in both the marriage and the children.

Billy got a letter from Mommy (and daddy is sad it isn’t directed to him).  Wow.  Powerful stuff.  She tells the kid that she needs to find something interesting to do and that’s why she left.  Way to make the kid feel important.  Okay, Hoffman is annoying but I won’t lie, I have a sexist attitude toward women who can give birth to a child and walk away from it.  Hoffman cries while he’s reading the letter and the son just turns up the TV, not wanting to hear it.

Time for a musical montage.  Dad is getting rid of all signs of mommy in the house.  And this montage works.  No dialogue is needed while de-mommyfying the house (and it wasn’t some random alternative music song, just a piece of guitar music).

The company I worked for spanning ten years had more men than women in it.  It was a small company, over the years we had between 10 and 15 people, and almost every man in the office left early to pick up their kids, or came in late because they had to go to the doctor with their children.  It’s amazing how things have ONLY changed over the last decade or so.

Co-worker is unhappy Hoffman can’t stay to shoot the shit; son is unhappy that dad shows up late to pick him up from a birthday party.  He can’t win.  Hell, the kid doesn’t even like the Knicks, he likes Boston because “Mommy’s from Boston”.  Hoffman is starting to realize he needs to get off his ass and be a dad.  Especially when he finds a picture of mommy hidden in the boy’s drawer.  Much to MY surprise, he pulls the photo out of the drawer and puts it next to the kid’s bed.  I guess it helps to not act like she died.

This Justin Henry is bloody adorable.  Wonder what he looks like now?  I remember he got nominated for this role.  Must have been a lot to deal with at that age.  I also just read that Kate Jackson was supposed to have this lead but Aaron Spelling wouldn’t give her time off of filming Charlie’s Angels.  I would have held that against him for the rest of his life.

Ask and I will receive.  Justin Henry then and in 2009

Hoffman getting yelled at because his family problems and encroaching on his work life.  Welcome to the real world, dude.

Daddy dealing with kid who won’t eat.  Dealing with kids isn’t so easy is it, pops?

Holy cow.  Kid goes right to the freezer and takes out the ice cream to eat instead of dinner.  Defying dad to his face.  “Don’t you dare do that” doesn’t work.   But I like “I hate you back you little shit”.  Okay, I don’t “like” it but it definitely shows some brutally honest interactions between dad and son.

Kid crying that he wants his mommy while dad takes a slug of alcohol is a bit gut wrenching.

Daw….and I cry when the little one apologizes to his dad…and then dad apologizes too.   Aw, the kid thinks she left because he was bad!  I wonder how many kids go through that exact thing?  I was always grateful that my parents got along well enough to stay together because I don’t know how I would have been able to process that as a child.

Hoffman’s speech about how mommy left because he tried to make her someone she wasn’t is amazingly self-aware.  It’s fun to watch a character have these realizations on screen instead of just having them miraculously change.  The “I love yous” exchanged at the end of the scene did their job.  I’m still crying.

When Kate Jackson was supposed to be the lead, Meryl Streep was supposed to have the part that JoBeth Williams took.  So you all missed seeing Streep’s T &A in this film (as did Justin Henry) thanks, again, to Aaron Spelling.

The scene with dad teaching son how to ride the bike is what I remember from the commercial and it made me immediately side with the dad even though I hadn’t seen the film yet.

Oh crap, blood from the kid falling off the jungle gym.  This is going to come back to haunt him.  Only in New York can you carry your son through the streets and actually come upon a hospital.

The doctor told Hoffman that he’ll have to “take some stitches”.  I’ve never heard it phrased that way.  Watching the way this kid reacts to having his face stitched up, I can see why he got a nomination.  Dang.

I know she’s coming back and it’s giving me anxiety.

Aaand she’s back.

Her SECOND question is “How’s Billy?”.  Although she then tells him she’s been stalking the kid from the coffee shop for two months.  Lovely.

She went to California to find herself.  Holy shit that’s lame.  I know people actually said that in the 70s but, Jesus, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

“I want my son”  “You can’t have him”  Damn.

One of the many reasons I love Hoffman.  He’s so wigged out by her wanting the kid that he picks up his glass of wine and moves it on the table.  He then picks it up again and moves it again as he gets up to leave.  Seemingly out of nowhere, he swipes his hand across the table and send the glass flying into the wall behind Meryl Streep.  I’d love to know if that was directed or just something Hoffman did because it seems very Hoffman-like.

The lawyer he goes to for help practically talks him into NOT wanting custody.  Jesus, Grandpa, what the hell did you read this to me for?

He makes a list and can’t find any reason to keep his son but it’s obvious it’s what he wants.  At a business lunch, he spends the time talking about his son to an uninterested boss.  Ax is going to drop, isn’t it?

He gets fired and his boss offers him a loan to help him get by?  Asshole.  So the tally right now is, Mother left son and ran away to California but kid had to get stitches while he was with father and father just lost his job.  Crap.

And they fired him on Christmas week!!!!!  WTF, dude.  He strong arms an agency into a job, but he’s taking a huge cut in salary because he needs a job because his court date is in two weeks.

He has a great portfolio so he talks himself into the job and shows his smaller office with his son who is definitely impressed.  But that happiness is short-lived when dad sees mom in the coffee shop spying.

Uh-oh.  Mom wants to see kid.  Scene where kid runs into mom’s arms should be more emotional than it was.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to watch your kid walk off with someone you don’t think is fit to take care of them.

I don’t know how this ends but I’m going to guess, as the court scene begins, that the mother gets custody if, for no other reason, than because she’s the mother.

There’s only a half an hour left in the film.  I’m getting anxious for Dustin Hoffman.

So he was a chauvinist who wouldn’t let her work, she felt stifled and had low self-esteem.  Okay, this is believable.   And sad.  And I DO understand how that should make you feel you wouldn’t be able to take care of your child.  But I absolutely don’t buy that “I’m his mother” should be the criteria custody is based on.

And did I miss something?  Did they not have joint custody in the 70s?

Ah, the whole “How many men have you screwed” offense.  I get it.  Dad’s lawyer does do a good job at showing that she has commitment issues.  I hate that though. “Were YOU a failure at the most important relationship in your life?”  Yes.  Yes she was.

Kid playing, dad working and then snuggling and talking.  Wonderful scene depicting how close they have become.  Rip my heart out why don’t you?

Oops.  Friend is on the stand.  Has to admit that she told mom that she “owed it to herself” to leave.  That doesn’t look good.  Friend tells mom that the father isn’t the same man she left and gets yelled at by judge.  Judge’s are mean.

Dad would win for me…he keeps mentioning that it should be what is best for their son not about giving the kid to a mother.

“We built a life together and we love each other.  If you destroy that it may be irreparable.”

Oh now they’re going to get him on his job.  I hate lawyers.

Nearly lost an eye???  He fell in the playground.  I hate this guy.  At least Meryl Streep feels guilty about the lawyer using that.

Wow.  No more court drama.  Just “I lost him”.  And, yeah, all because she was the mom.  Every other weekend and one night a week plus half of the kid’s vacations.   That’s all the judge is giving him.

And here’s the scene where DAD has to explain what’s happening.  Mother should have to do that shit.

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod don’t cry!!!!!!!  Did they tell this kid his dog died?  Fabulous crying.

“If you get lonesome you can just call me up, okay?”  KID TO DAD.  Dying.

And we get a replay of the breakfast scene except now they know exactly what they’re doing.  :sniff:

Seriously, this kid is the best crier in the history of people crying in the movies.

Here comes mom.

I really didn’t see this coming.  “I came here to take my son home and I realize he already is home”  This is like the ending of an afterschool special.  Seriously.  All this drama and it conveniently gets wrapped up by mom’s sudden guilt?

And, AGAIN, I ask, what of joint custody?

Dustin Hoffman does a great job of trying not to look psyched.

THAT’S how it ends?  “How do I look?”  ‘Terrific” Elevator doors close.  The end.

Um…I guess I liked it?  The acting was good.  The storyline was compelling.  But, Jesus, that ending?  All the drama for…that?  This one might take another viewing…some other time.

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