Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Drama
Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander, Justin Henry
A just-divorced man must learn to care for his son on his own, and then must fight in court to keep custody of him.
The divorce subject isn't as shocking, but the film is still a thoughtful, well-acted drama that resists the urge to take sides or give easy answers.
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Company:
  • Approved Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 19 Dec 1979 Released:
  • 28 Aug 2001 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Avery Corman (from the novel by), Robert Benton (w Writer:
  • Robert Benton Director:
  • N/A Website:

Trailer:

Benton's greatest Writing and Directing, his achievement in film winning all the top major Oscars of 19798/10
Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer is a character based story just like his "Human Stain(2003)" and "The Late Show(1977)". 2 of his 3 Oscar awards are belong to Kramer vs. Kramer, for his success on directing and writing; thus making his film bringing a real life drama with the real life characters so close to us. It's all about ordinary people with our problems. What's different and catchy about Robert Benton's film-making was here we are not trying to put ourselves in the actors' shoes, the actors are trying to put themselves in our shoes.

The story is about the Kramer family which is broken, father and mother are separated, and they have to fight for their son's custody in court against each other. After his wife walks out on him, Ted Kramer's life completely turns upside down. He has to take care of his son, Billy; but at the same time he's very busy with his position in an advertising company. Soon, he loses his job; Billy has an accident; his wife wants Billy to live with her. Against all the problems Ted is facing, he always fought with his heart. Ted's a very emotional and sensitive man, but a strong person at the same time.

Ted Kramer character was a new model for Dustin Hoffman. But since the late 1950s' Elia Kazan's pioneer approach of modern drama making on film, with the basic instalment of the leading actor into a conflict, Ted Kramer's strong character raised Dustin Hoffman's acting to become a legend ; just like it did to Marlon Brando, Sylvester Stallone, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson with 1970s'.

Something more about the movie; the linear cut has been 43 minutes longer than the theatrical release. Most of this cut has included Meryl Streep's deleted scenes. Also Meryl Streep has been originally cast in the role of Ted's one night stand, eventually played by second supporting actress Jobeth Williams. Meryl Streep's role as Joanna Kramer has been primarily offered to Kate Jackson; but due to her contract rules with the TV-series Charlie's Angels, she hasn't been able to accept this role. Joanna Kramer character has been designed to be the leading actress and subject to have more scenes, before director Benton making the last decision of the plot's focus point.

Both Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman today have splendid fame on movie career, and Kramer vs. Kramer was an important milestone for both of their careers. Dustin Hoffman's Oscar speech winning the best actor at the 1979 Academy Awards ceremony is one of the best Oscar speeches of all Academy Awards history; like the movie Hoffman's Oscar speech is also available to watch on Youtube.
An Intelligent and Solid Film About Divorce8/10
After a decade of turbulent unrest, American movies began to switch gears and turn their cameras away from war-torn battlefields, political corruption, and general social unease to the more intimate world of family dysfunction. The toll the selfish Baby Boomers began to take on the American family as they grew up and had kids of their own was making itself felt.

"Kramer vs. Kramer" is one of the first of these dysfunctional family dramas that would continue to be so popular throughout the 1980s, and it's one of the best. It gets a rather bum rap now, because it's known as the film that beat "Apocalypse Now" for the 1979 Best Picture Academy Award, but comparing these two films is like comparing a banana to a marinated chicken breast: they're not remotely the same, but can't we enjoy them both? Director/writer Robert Benton doesn't try to do anything fancy with his movie; its strength lies in its performances, those of Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep particularly, playing a divorced couple fighting childishly and selfishly over their son. The courtroom scene in which they duke it out for custody, and in which each is forced to hurt the other in terrible ways, is devastating, and feels authentic. The movie doesn't present Hoffman's solid dad as a hero, or Streep's straying mom as a villain. They're neither good or bad as people -- they're simply bad at being married.

The film is tear-jerky at the finale, but not in a manipulative way. It earns its right to elicit sobs.

Grade: A
Brilliant drama10/10

"Kramer vs. Kramer" is a terrific drama about an unhappy woman who walks out on her husband and young son. The husband now has to take up the responsibilities of taking care of the boy. As he does, they get to know each other better. But then, the mother and wife returns, and she wants custody of the boy. "Kramer vs. Kramer" has lots of drama with some wonderful bits of comedy thrown in for good measure. Dustin Hoffman won his first Best Actor Oscar for his brilliant performance here. Most people say his performance in "Rainman", which won him his second Oscar, is his best. He was great in that film, but I disagree that its his best. In my opinion, the best performance of Hoffman's career is in this movie. Scene after scene shows us why Hoffman is one of the best American actors working today. He's also funny at times. Also giving a terrific performance is Meryl Streep, who wasn't as well known when she made this film like she is today. Streep, like Hoffman, also won her first Oscar (for Best Supporting Actress) for her work in "Kramer vs. Kramer" as the wife and mother who tries to find herself after walking out on her family. Justin Henry, who was only 8 years old when the film came out, is wonderful as Hoffman and Streep's son. He won an Oscar nomination for his role here, and still to this day he is the youngest performer to receive an Oscar nomination in a competitive category (Best Supporting Actor). Jane Alexander is also fine as a conserned family friend. She too got an Oscar nomination (for Supporting Actress where she lost to co-star Streep). "Kramer vs. Kramer" is a great film from start to finish. Writer-director Robert Benton has made a film that's absolutely unforgettable.

**** (out of four)
What a terrific acting movie9/10
I consider myself lucky that I got to view a wonderful movie with two marvelous actors. "Kramer vs. Kramer" was great to me because I think I could relate to it.

Unfortunately, my parents are divorced. Even though I was older than Billy in this movie, I felt his pain and confusion. Having two parents who you thought were happy and end up hating each other is the worst. Through this movie, actually, I think it made me realize that my parents are people too, and they had as just much pain as my sister and I had.

Back to the movie, this was a good one. Yes, it's dated and Meryl and Dustin are very young. But I would recommend this for a lot of people, because I think most can relate in some way. There are funny, sad, happy, and relieving moments that are carried away terrificly by these great actors. It's a good movie and deserves more credit than a 7.5.

9/10
The whole cast was simply brilliant9/10

This outstanding film has about the best acting that you'll ever see, and that alone makes this a must-see. The entire cast is excellent, but then again, it had to be in order to keep up with Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. It didn't take me long to get hooked on this film, and aside from a
courtroom scene that is merely good, this is top-notch entertainment. This is a rare film that actually deserved all the Oscar recognition that it received. See it for yourself and you will definitely not be disappointed.