Year: 1989
Production Co: Imagine Entertainment
Director: Ron Howard
Producer: Brian Grazer
Writer: Ron Howard/Lowell Ganz/Babaloo Mandel
Cast: Steve Martin, Dianne Weist, Mary Steenburgen, Rick Moranis, Frank Robards, Tom Hulce, Joaquin Phoenix, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves, Clint Howard, Bryce Dallas Howard
Ron Howard collected a fantastic cast for this gorgeous and heartfelt look at families and children - how stressful they are, what fools they can make of you and how they drain your money, energy and life away but how you'd die for them in an instant and wouldn't have it any other way. All from his daughter throwing up on him on a plane, which gave him the idea (I wonder if it was Bryce?)

With usual writing collaborators Ganz and Mandel he very cleverly winds the fortunes and stories of the entire Buckman family to comment on all the different ways kids can affect your life. There's devoted family man Gil (Martin) trying to do the right thing but finding life a bit hard. His sister Helen (Weist) has a young son Gary (Phoenix) who's falling apart for want of a father figure and a dysfunctional daughter Julie (Plimpton) who's fallen in with every parent's nightmare boyfriend, the not-too-bright Todd (Reeves).

His other sister Susan is married to control freak Nathan (Moranis), who's fast turning their daughter into an overachieving automaton. Their father Frank (Robards) is a hard drinking chauvinist who never shined to his responsibilities, and worst of all, their black sheep younger brother Larry (Hulce) has returned from whatever borderline criminal misadventures he's mixed up in, complete with illegitimate son Cool in tow.

As much a series of warm and very funny statements on the nature of having kids as a story, you feel for everyone along the way and the pitch perfect casting brings every role and line of dialogue to life. If only Martin had as much direction and as strong a script as the later family comedies he'd wallow in (Cheaper By the Dozen, et al).

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