• PG, 1 hr. 45 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Robert Benton
    In Theaters:
    Dec 19, 1979 Wide
    On DVD:
    Aug 28, 2001
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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Kramer vs. Kramer Reviews

Page 1 of 96
Mr Awesome
Mr Awesome

Super Reviewer

April 24, 2013
In 1979, America was just beginning to see the effects of the women's movement on the american family. There was a great amount of role reversal in the home, and the divorce rates had begun to skyrocket. In "Kramer vs. Kramer", we witness the collapse of a marriage that before, in a more typical movie, would see the man walking out on the woman, leaving her to support and raise their child alone, but now sees the woman leaving, as she feels unfulfilled in life and wants something better (there aren't necessarily any villains in this movie, only victims). Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is the husband, climbing his way up the corporate ladder, making great business contacts while his family contacts languish. Joanna Kramer (Meryl Streep) is the wife, and the only reason she's stayed with him so long is her love for little Billy, their son. As the film opens, it's come to the point where her desperation and unhappiness have surpassed even the love for her son, and she's packing to leave. Ted arrives home, high on the news he may be made a V.P. at work, completely unaware of his wife's condition or their situation. "She's ruined one of the five best days of my life" he complains, after she's walked out on him (notice the emphasis is all on him). In the midst of all this selfishness, no one seems to notice that Billy has been virtually abandoned by both parents. No, he's no Oliver Twist: he has a home, he has food and clothing, and he wants for nothing, but the adults in his life, the people who are supposed to be foundation of his very person, are letting him down in a most cruel way. Being forced together, Ted and Billy must interact without the motherly intermediary present, and it's a learning experience for both father and son. Ted goes from ignoring his son and being largely dismissive to realizing just how valuable that child is to his existence, and how much that child depends on him for literally everything. It's only after the immensity of this "parenthood thing" dawns on Ted that Joanna comes back into the picture, and after a 18-month absence, sues Ted for custody of their son.

Perhaps it takes becoming a parent to truly realize the stakes of a movie like Kramer vs. Kramer. There are few things more powerful than the love a parent has for their child (I know I would without hesitation give my life for my daughter, and even a thought of some harm be-fouling her can put literal, physical tears in my eyes almost in an instant), and yet as parents, we are capable of so much destruction in these little lives. The extent to which we can emotionally cripple our own offspring is both shocking and horrifying. They're little people, very small physically, and sometimes it's easier to ignore them while focusing on our own needs, and not even realize what it is that we're doing until it's too late. Even though I've never gone through a divorce, I can empathize with the emotions this movie projects. Parenthood is perhaps the less glamourous of the 'big emotions' that make for movie material (Death and Romantic Love usually get all the glory), but parenthood is just as powerful, just as devastating as any other great mystery of life.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

January 5, 2008
One of the first and hardest-hitting films to address divorce on the big screen, the 1979 Best Picture winner is a touch melodramatic for me but is filled with great moments, particularly the scene in which Dustin Hoffman's character has to convince his son that he will not ever leave him. What's good and tough about this film is that we see the impossible situation in which Hoffman's character is placed - he'll almost certainly lose the custody battle, even though he's not the one who ran off. It's a bit disheartening that the only film I can think of to show sexism in the legal system focuses on a "poor-me" man's story, and I have a hard time getting behind Hoffman as an actor in general - I just don't buy him when he's happy, but regardless, this is a slice of life that's well structured and has a perfect ending. Its subject matter may have been a much bigger deal when this movie was made, but there's no denying that it stands up today, and if you don't need a tissue at some point while watching, you're probably not human. A great film that everyone must see once.
Alexander D

Super Reviewer

October 27, 2011
I enjoy dramas about dysfunctional families just like I enjoy dramas about historical figures. If there is something unique and worthwhile the film has to offer, count me in. If it's just another addition to the pile, count me out. Kramer vs. Kramer was first released in 1979. It wasn't the first film centering on a dysfunctional family, and it certainly wasn't the last; nor was it anywhere close to the greatest. Ordinary People (1980), What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), The Descendants (2011). The list goes on and on, but when I imagine such films, those three are the first to come to mind. Not only do they offer outstanding performances, they offer great, unexpected surprises and alterations to keep us entertained with a story about as old as Methuselah. Kramer vs. Kramer, despite remaining one of the most recognized and praised films of the 1970s, only ventures halfway. Although such marvelous acting ability is worthy of praise and makes the film watchable, in no way does it redeem the film's overwhelmingly submissive faith to convention.
Lucas M

Super Reviewer

July 28, 2012
Kramer Vs. Kramer is a powerful closer portrait of a divorce, very good executed.
jamers2011
jamers2011

Super Reviewer

December 7, 2010
A great drama film! Great performances and really good writing. Hoffman is excellent and Meryl Streep is stunning! Winner of 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. I can't recommend this one enough.
Jason O

Super Reviewer

October 23, 2011
Great drama film that will have the tears flowing toward the end. As one of the other reviewers said, it's very realistic (my parents divorced when I was 8, and I chose to live w/my dad, so I can relate to an extent), which is its strong point. Everything about it works, but I must say that 1979 must have been a slow year for the movie industry, because I don't know, this film just didn't scream Best Picture award winner for me, as didn't Hoffman nor Streep's performances. They did an excellent job in their acting, don't get me wrong, but I just didn't see the performances as exceptionally great or better than their usual.
cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2011
This film, which deals with the trials and tribulations of divorce and changing ideas about gender roles, took home a bunch of Oscars back as the 70s ended and gave way to the 80s. While it does deserve a lot of the awards it got, I don't think this is a real groundbreaking masterpiece that has stood the test of time.

Some of it still holds up, yes, but mostly this film is a real product of its time, even though the themes and isssues are still relevant now. It;s their treatment that hasn't held up quite as much. That shouldn't keep you from seeing this though, because it's still a really good film.

The performances are terrific. Both Hoffman and Streep are fantastic, but this is truly Hoffman's film all the way. Justin Henry is also quite terrific, whih si nice since most child actors are usually terribly annoying and not good performers. Jane Alexander and JoBeth Williams also deliver in some nice supporting roles.

Something I really appreciated about this film is how, even though most of the time is spent with Hoffman, this film is very fair, balanced, and doesn't take sides. That's probably the other best thing is has going for it aside from the acting. The writing and directing are serviceable, but a little underwhelming, and this film left me depressed. I'm glad I saw it though, and I do recommend it, though I'm not sure if I really want to see this multiple times.
DreamExtractor
DreamExtractor

Super Reviewer

March 3, 2011
I positively love this film. The plot was a genius tearjerker that can really relate to some people. The acting is amazing, bring some of the most famous actors ever are in this. You have to see this.
stevenecarrier
stevenecarrier

Super Reviewer

January 26, 2011
As a father torn between raising his child, a demanding job and fighting for custody with his ex-wife, Dustin Hoffman is at his chaotic best, flipping between emotions with an uncanny ease. Meryl Streep is fantastic here as well, helping the audience connect with a character whom you should automatically hate, but she (and the screenplay) snap off any knee-jerk expectations one might have. It's Justin Henry as the 7 year old son who is the gravitational center to the picture, always driving the narrative and it's characters to their proper places with the nuance of a seasoned professional. This is incredible stuff. Moving, honest, funny and full of wonderfully played scenes, the 1979 Best Picture winner, "Kramer vs. Kramer", is an experience to be cherished.
CloudStrife84
CloudStrife84

Super Reviewer

May 14, 2007
Warm, touching and endearingly acted. A down-to-earth story that's really easy to take in. Hoffman and Streep, who have never once done a lazy acting job, fill their roles to their maximum potential. As does the kid who plays Billy, who is funny in everything he does, and very believable in his emotions. Being a child of divorce myself, I could very much relate to what his character is going through, and the psychological effects that comes with it. However, even if the plotline deals with a dysphoric occurence in life, the beauty in this film lie in its every-day moments. Such as the scene where Hoffman's character has dinner with his son, or when he converses in the park with one of his ex-wife's best friends. It all flows so naturally dialogue-wise, that it's sometimes hard to believe it's actually a work of fiction. Not great enough for me to say that I love it, but probably the best movie ever made about its subject matter. A sure recommendation from me.
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 6, 2010
One of the saddest tearjerkers I've ever seen, probably because the story is so real and the movie realistic. The actors are fantastic in this movie too. I love this drama, and I highly recommend it.
Screeny
Screeny

Super Reviewer

September 1, 2010
Wonderfully acted and beatifully written. "Kramer Vs. Kramer" can stand as one of the greatest drama's ever.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

September 25, 2009
Great film, Hoffman at his best. Streep is annoying but I think that's more to do with the character more than anything. That said, I can't help but feel her ongoing Oscar nominations are a little questionable!
Aaron N

Super Reviewer

November 14, 2006
Ted Kramer: Margaret, I just need to know something. Did you put Joanna up to this?
Margaret Phelps: No, I did not put Joanna up to this.
Ted Kramer: Give her a little pep talk, maybe?
Margaret Phelps: Joanna is a very unhappy woman and it took a lot of courage to walk out this door.
Ted Kramer: How much courage does it take to walk out on your kid?

Within this greatly acted movie that has a very real story involving a just divorced man dealing with being both a workaholic and a loving father to his 7 year old child, there are two scenes towards the beginning and the end that involve French toast. A film that can have an emotional impact on me based on the contrasting elements involved in these two scenes that features French toast as the subject, means that the film has delivered.

Dustin Hoffman plays Ted Kramer, a workaholic, who's wife Joanna, played by Meryl Streep has just left him and his son Billy, because she was unhappy. The marriage may have lasted for a number of years, but Joanna has essentially had enough and leaves Ted completely unprepared.

Ted was about to feel much better about his life due to landing a major account for his ad company, but he must now deal with both work and being a very attentive father. The relationship between Ted and Billy takes up the majority of the story until the last act, where the film turns into a courtroom drama involving a vicious custody battle between Ted and Joanna for Billy.

Dustin Hoffman once again shows me how great of an actor he is. I have seen him play all sorts of roles and this one is fairly straightforward compared to some of his more eccentric characters and yet, I completely believe him as this man. Everything feels right with Hoffman as Ted. The rest of the cast is wonderful as well. Streep, who had a busy year here in addition to filming Deer Hunter and Manhattan, is excellent in a supporting role that could seem one not, but isn't. Jane Alexander is very good as a neighbor for Ted to relate with. And young Justin Henry as Billy is well equipped to keep up with Hoffman.

Set in New York, the film looks great, with a few particular scenes that convey the fact that some careful cinematography was planned out for this film, so not to just settle the film as a standard cliche drama.

There can be more to say about this film, such as how carefully it treads on the fact that a stance could have been taken, yet it isn't, but the thing I'll emphasize most is that Hoffman is great in this movie, and everything around him works just as well.

Ted Kramer: How was school today?
Billy Kramer: Same as usual.
Ted Kramer: Hey, I see the Knicks finally won a game, what do you know?
Billy Kramer: I don't care.
Ted Kramer: What do you mean?
Billy Kramer: I like Boston.
Ted Kramer: Boston? Why do you like Boston?
Billy Kramer: 'Cause Mommy's from Boston.
Fernando Rafael Q

Super Reviewer

June 27, 2009
A hurricane of emotions shatters the screen in KRAMER VS. KRAMER. A simple, yet engaging story, with brilliant casting. Dustin Hoffman is just perfect.
Jennifer X

Super Reviewer

January 24, 2009
When little boys cry, I can't help it - the tears come flowing out. You know this movie is gonna be a triumph just from looking at the star-studded cast, and it's everything you expect and more. Brilliant pacing, just the right amounts of struggle and happiness. Meryl Streep is gone from 3/4 of the movie but as soon as she enters the scene changes and she fills up such a presence it's like she was never gone. And this movie further solidifies my belief that Dustin Hoffman is the greatest modern day actor ever. But Justin Henry is the one that really impressed me - beneath the heavyweights Hoffman and Streep he manages to hold his own by being cute but not eye-blindingly so. It's a true portrayal of a kid in a broken family.
Dean !

Super Reviewer

January 6, 2007
A great drama film as a split couple fight for custody of their child. Great performances all round.
Lady D

Super Reviewer

September 20, 2006
Such a well known film and yet my first viewing of it and I really enjoyed it.

My first thought was that women everywhere have been bringing up children and balancing work etc for years and years and along comes a man that does it and bam, a big film, however - I feel this films highlights how difficult life is for a single parent regardless of their gender.
Mark H

Super Reviewer

June 10, 2008
Brilliantly acted character study.
Dan S

Super Reviewer

October 8, 2007
Very sad and heartfelt story.
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