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.