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Movie of the Day: Kramer Vs. Kramer (1979)

“How much courage does it take to walk out on your kid?”
Sometimes, simplicity wins over the rest. In a book, a simple story might be favored. In a meal, something simple may be what you crave. But in a movie, most people do not want simplicity. They want the whole shebang. They want a spectacle. Mostly, they aren't right. Simplicity has made many movies. Kramer Vs. Kramer is one of them.
Life was going great for New York City advertising artist Ted Kramer. He had a great job and a loving wife. No, actually, his wife wasn't so loving, for when Ted returned home late from work that night his wife, Joanna, had a suit case packed and was heading out the door. He tried to stop her, but she just got into the elevator and out of Ted's life. Well, now in addition to his job he's now got to mind the house as well as their 6-year-old son, Billy; Ted assured his boss that his wife's leaving would not affect his job performance in any way. It did however affect his performance as a father. He blew up when Billy spilled punch on his client artwork! Well, some time later Ted and Billy receive a letter from Joanna, and it was obvious from her letter that she wasn't coming back. Ted was distraught. Well, he was late coming home from work on Billy's birthday, which made Billy sore at him.
Ted was late to work one day and his boss yelled at him because he had missed a very important client meeting. When he got home, he yelled at Billy for sneaking ice cream during dinner. Then later he truthfully told Billy that the break-up between he and Joanna may have been his fault, not Billy's; Ted invited a good friend, Phyllis Bernard over that night, and well, Billy got his first look at a naked woman. When Ted took Billy to the park the following day, he fell off the jungle gym and landed face-first onto his toy plane. Ted literally ran him to the hospital where they had to administer stitches. After that, life began taking a downward spiral for Ted. Then one day out of the blue he received a phone call from none other than Joanna! They met in a corner café. At first they have a pleasant conversation but then Joanna informs him that she has returned to collect her son and take him with her. Ted would have none of it and stormed out. Well life got even worse for Ted when his boss, Jim O'Connor, took him out to lunch and abruptly fired him. Not only that but Joanna was choosing to sue for custody of Billy, and without a job, Ted didn't stand a chance in hell for winning. He hired himself a lawyer, John Shaunessy, who charged a pretty penny: $15,000 exact change. And that's if they win.
Ted was also able to find a new job. It was actually a step down from what he used to do with a considerable cut in salary but he accepted with great determination. Finally the court date, January 9, 1980, arrived. Judge Atkins presiding. Joanna took the stand and Shaunessy proceeded to question her about why she left Ted and about her other relationships and how they were failures. The next day, Ted took the stand and Joanna's lawyer really grilled him like a cheeseburger. Ted's good friend Margaret took the stand as well and she really didn't help matters. Well, the judge took some time to think it over and sure enough, one day Shaunessy informs Ted that he lost. Joanna got sole custody of Billy. How typical! Always ruling in favor of the mother. Well, Ted and Billy were just devastated about parting ways. They had a tearful goodbye when suddenly Joanna stopped by. She and Ted have a little talk and well, rather than just give away the ending, let me assure everybody that everything turns out alright for everybody!
Dustin Hoffman was very good. He earned that Academy Award. Meryl Streep was good. She also got an Oscar. Justin Henry was good too, so where was his nomination?. This movie has great drama, light comedy, and is very subtle. It does a good job of holding your attention. If you like Dustin Hoffman or Meryl Streep or movies of this genre, then I recommend Kramer vs. Kramer! A gripping film about the pangs of two divorced parents fighting over their child. I liked Ted's little speech about ruling in favor of mothers all the time. What was it about sex that makes a good parents? Why always rule in favor of the mother because she's a woman?
Kramer vs. Kramer" is a great film from start to finish. Writer-director Robert Benton has made a film that's absolutely unforgettable… 10/10


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