Parenthood

  • Directors: Ron Howard
  • Producers: Brian Grazer
  • Writers: Story, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Ron Howard, Screenplay, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Steve Martin, Tom Hulce, Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest

The story revolves around Gil Buckman (Steve Martin), a neurotic sales executive trying to balance the pressures of raising a family in the suburbs of St. Louis and succeeding in his career. Among Gil’s issues is a family of relatives who all face their own obstacles related to family and raising children such as Gil’s wife, Karen (Mary Steenburgen), his gruff and distant father, Frank (Jason Robards) and an assortment of other colorful relatives in a movie that raises the question: How easy is it to raise a family when you’re also trying to have your own life?

Gil never overworks himself, because he wants to be an active father, rather than a distant one like his own father was. His relationship with his father remains tense. His parenting skills are put under more pressure when he finds out that his wife is pregnant with their fourth child whom he is unsure of, and that his eldest son, Kevin, may have emotional problems [recognizably, in retrospect, a mild form of social anxiety disorder or possibly Asperger’s Syndrome] and may need to be placed in special classes or a private school if his issues don’t get better. Given Kevin’s issues, and some more minor issues with his other two children, Gil begins to blame himself and deeply question his abilities as a father. In addition, the financial burdens of another child and office politics at work may mean becoming the workaholic he despised his own father for being. When his father comes to Gil for advice on how to deal with Larry (Gil’s wayward brother) and says he is asking Gil’s advice because Gil is a good father, Gil has some closure about his feelings toward his father. Although this was a first step for Gil to realize that kids don’t come with an instruction manual, it is grandma and his wife that finally get him to relax and enjoy what life brings rather than over analyze it.

The film ends on a sentimental note with a new generation of Buckman children being born and the personal growth of the parents. For example, Frank lovingly hugs and cuddles his grandson Cool demonstrating that he changed his distant ways. The message of the film is seemingly that despite a family’s hectic problems, there is nothing better than being part of it and everyone has insecurities about their parenting skills.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

  • Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
  • Producers: Don Hahn
  • Writers: Victor Hugo
  • Genres: Animation, Adventure, Drama, Family, Musical
  • Actors: Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Tony Jay, Kevin Kline, Paul Kandel, Jason Alexander, Charles Kimbrough, Mary Wickes, David Ogden Stiers

The movie opens in 1482 Paris with Clopin (Paul Kandel), a gypsy puppeteer, telling a group of children the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame (“The Bells of Notre Dame”): One night, four gypsies attempted to enter Paris but were stopped by Judge Claude Frollo (Tony Jay), the Minister of Justice. One gypsy woman who was carrying a bundle attempted to flee and Frollo pursued, thinking that she was carrying stolen goods. Chasing her to Notre Dame, Frollo snatches the bundle from her and kicks her, causing her to fall and hit her head against the stone steps of the cathedral. Frollo discovers that the bundle is a deformed baby and attempts to drown it in a well, but is stopped by the Archdeacon (David Ogden Stiers), who tells him to care for the child as repentance for killing an innocent woman. He agrees, on condition that the child will live in the cathedral. Frollo names the baby Quasimodo, meaning “half-formed”.

Twenty years later, Quasimodo (Tom Hulce) is shown to be the bellringer of Notre Dame. Frollo tells Quasimodo to never leave the bell tower because the people in the city will mistreat him because of his ugliness. Frollo has also lied about Quasimodo’s mother, saying that he took Quasimodo in when his mother abandoned him. Nevertheless, after Frollo departs following a visit, Quasimodo dreams of spending a day out in the world (“Out There”). Quasimodo’s gargoyle friends (Hugo (Jason Alexander), Victor (Charles Kimbrough), and Laverne (Mary Wickes)) convince him to sneak out of the cathedral, given that it was the annual Feast of Fools and everyone is in costume.

After the credits, it shows Hugo alone on top of Notre Dame, and he yells: “Goodnight everybody! Woo hoo hoo!” It then shows the Disney logo.

Amadeus

  • Directors:
  • Producers: Saul Zaentz
  • Writers: Peter Shaffer
  • Genres: Drama, Music
  • Actors: F Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge

The film begins in 1823 as Salieri, as an old man, attempts suicide by slitting his throat while loudly begging forgiveness for having killed a long-deceased Mozart. Placed in a lunatic asylum for the act, he is visited by a young priest who seeks to take his confession. Salieri is sullen and uninterested but eventually warms to the priest and launches into a long “confession” about the relationship between himself and Mozart. As the scenes later cut back to this dialog, it seems as if the telling of the story with the listening priest goes on through the night and into the next day.

Salieri reminisces about his youth, particularly about his devotion to God and his love for music and how he pledges to God to remain celibate as a sacrifice if he can somehow devote his life to music. He describes how his father’s plans for him were to go into business, but Salieri suggests that the sudden death of his father, who choked to death during a meal, was “a miracle” that allowed Salieri to pursue a career in music. In his narrative, he is suddenly an adult joining the 18th century cultural elite in Vienna, the “city of musicians.” Salieri begins his career as a devout, God-fearing man who believes his success and talent as a composer are God’s rewards for his piety. He is content as the court composer for Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II.

The film ends as Salieri finishes recounting his story to the visibly shaken young priest. Salieri concludes that God killed Mozart rather than allow Salieri to share in even an ounce of his glory, and that he is consigned to be the “patron saint of mediocrity.” Salieri absolves the priest of his own mediocrity and blesses his fellow patients as he is taken away in his wheelchair. The last sound heard before the credits roll is Mozart’s comical laughter.