Universal acclaim - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. 100
    Ron Howard's Parenthood is a delicate balancing act between comedy and truth, a movie that contains a lot of laughter and yet is more concerned with character than punch lines.
  2. Ron Howard reaches real maturity here, as he pulls together the script's tendency to skitter between sociology and sitcom, making it into one perceptive, delicious whole. [2 Aug 1989, p.1]
  3. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Parenthood, heartfelt and howlingly comic, also comes spiced with risk and mischief. Just when you fear the movie might be swept away on a tidal wave of wholesomeness, a line, a scene or a performance poke through to restore messy, perverse reality.
  4. 88
    Ron Howard's first-rate dramatic comedy Parenthood, with Steve Martin headlining a first-rate cast in a most clever script about the joy and pain of being both a parent and a child. [4 Aug 1989, p.A]
  5. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    While Parenthood crosses the border into schmaltz a number of times, the movie runs the gamut of realistic emotions, and one scene or another is bound to hit home with the parents who see the film.
  6. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Funny, gritty, filled with surprising stabs of feeling, Parenthood is a stretch for Ron Howard, its director. This new adult comedy has the generosity of "Cocoon" and "Splash," but it takes Howard into deeper, darker, messier territory. [2 Aug 1989, p.57]
  7. 80
    A funny and touching look at the joys of family life.
  8. Ron Howard's bittersweet adult comedy, Parenthood, lays out an entire catalogue of psychological stresses afflicting family life in white middle-class America, then asks if the rewards of being a parent are worth all the agony.
  9. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    There is something brave and original about piling up most of our worst parental nightmares in one movie and then daring to make a midsummer comedy out of them. It really shouldn't work, but it does. The movie does not linger too long over any moment or mood, and it permits characters to transcend type, offering a more surprising range of response to events. [7 August 1989, p.54]
  10. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    An ambitious, keenly observed, and often very funny look at one of life's most daunting passages, Parenthood's masterstroke is that it covers the range of the family experience, offering the points of view of everyone in an extended and wildly diverse middle-class family.
  11. The picture sets up high expectations for itself with its wonderful casting, and the actors don't disappoint. [1 Aug 1989, p.1]
  12. Reviewed by: Desson Howe
    Perhaps Parenthood works so well because Howard and Co. dabble in the dark side of family happiness and the lighter side of family darkness.
  13. 80
    Weaned on the homilies of "Happy Days" and the hominy grits of Mayberry, Ron Howard brings sitcom aphorisms to bear on the sticky-fingered realities of the beamish Parenthood.
  14. This movie has its share of laughs, but it's also Ron Howard's most personal film, and clearly his most ambitious--a multifaceted essay in fictional form about the diverse snares of child rearing.
  15. The new film Parenthood is a challenging, funny, affecting and mostly rewarding effort - like parenthood itself. It makes good use of a large ensemble cast led by Steve Martin as a man striving to be a good dad. [2 Aug 1989, p.E1]
  16. Reviewed by: Chris Dafoe
    Parenthood is a charming, amusing piece of work. It doesn't say anything new - Howard clings as tightly to tradition as Norman Rockwell - but it says the old things with enough wit and eloquence to keep them going for another generation. [2 Aug 1989, p.C7]
  17. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The borderline Parenthood is either an iffy comedy with lots of compensations, or a good comedy with more irritating flaws than most movies manage to survive. Whichever, the "feel good'' infantry of summer-film escapists will probably love it. [2 Aug 1989, p.5D]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Jun 7, 2014
    What leads me to watch this film is Dianne Wiest’s singular Oscar-nomination, how rare a mainstream comedy stars Steve Martin could generate an Oscar-caliber performance? Is it as eccentrically diverting as Marisa Tomei in MY COUSIN VINNY (1992, 7/10) or a rowdy and raunchy scene-stealer as Melissa McCarthy in BRIDESMAIDS (2011, 7/10)? Neither is the case here, thus the answer could only be that it is Academy’s honeymoon period with Wiest, who has just won an Oscar 3 years earlier for Woody Allen’s HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986, 8/10) and would harvest her second trophy pretty soon in another Allen’s satire BULLETS OVER BROADWAY (1994, 8/10).
    continue to read my review on my blog, google cinema omnivore.
    Full Review »
  2. Jul 30, 2011
    Ron Howard has a way of churning out films and becoming some sort of wallflower. In this film, Howard stands tall for one reason - you know he is a parent and he wants to tell a story about parenting. The characters in this film are so real, touched with a sprinkle of far-fetchedness for comedy's sake - but you realize that this stretch is cleverly planted to drive a message home. That message? Parenting is not always easy. Life is not always easy. But, the ride is what builds character, understanding, and, ultimately the ability to love unconditionally. Steve Martin blends comedy and straight-laced acting perfectly. Dianne Weist is fantastic, as usual. I left the theater feeling good about, not parenting, but, instead, daily interaction with life's bumps and bruises. Full Review »
  3. KaseyS
    Feb 15, 2010
    To this day, I still believe that this is Ron Howard's best film. I've seen this movie dozens of times over the last 20 years and it never gets old. So many poignant moments, the laughter making the drama more intimate, the drama making the comedy more personal. This movie was way ahead of its time. Full Review »