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Kramer vs. Kramer Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Kramer vs. Kramer is a movie of good performances, and it had to be, because the performances can't rest on conventional melodrama.

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  • 90

    out of 100


    Kramer vs. Kramer is a rare movie that finds its tone, its focus and its poetry in its very first image.

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  • 90

    out of 100


    Kramer vs. Kramer is a perceptive, touching, intelligent film about one of the raw sores of contemporary America, the dissolution of the family unit.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    The New York Times Vincent Canby

    Kramer vs. Kramer is densely packed with such beautifully observed detail. It is also superbly acted by its supporting cast, including Jane Alexander, Howard Duff and George Coe.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Sensitive, truthful look at the breakup of a family.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this multiple award-winning film about the wrenching truths of divorce and its effects on both parents and kids has moments of great humor as well as heartbreak. Watching the relationship between a clueless dad (as he becomes a dedicated, loving father) and his young son (as he learns to deal with the pain of losing his mother) is suspenseful, very intense, and highly moving. Made in 1979, the filmmakers made a groundbreaking effort to treat a mother, who leaves her young son behind, with dignity and understanding. Following a bedroom scene showing two adults after a sexual encounter, a naked woman comes face to face with a little boy in the hallway (breasts clearly visible as she attempts to cover her genitals); the moment is played for comic effect and embarrassment rather than sexual provocativeness. In one tense, lengthy sequence, a child falls from a jungle gym, is rushed to an emergency hospital, and undergoes stitches on camera. There is occasional swearing ("goddammit"). Adult beverages are consumed in a number of social situations, and, once, the dad uses alcohol after a particularly difficult argument with his son. A few people smoke.

  • Families can discuss how expectations of fathers have changed since this movie was made in 1979. How do current movies and television programs show the involvement of dads today? Give some examples.
  • Did your feelings about Joanna (the mom) change by the end of the story? What techniques did the filmmakers use, and how did Meryl Streep's performance help you understand her point of view?
  • Why was the courtroom sequence meaningful? Was it important for the audience to hear each person's side of the story? Was it important for the characters to hear each other's side of the story?
  • Ted, Joanna, and Billy Kramer had few financial issues to face. How might the movie have been different if the family had had money problems?

The good stuff
  • message true5

    Messages: Encourages understanding, sensitivity, responsibility, and tenderness in child-parent relationships, focusing on father-child. Advocates hear both sides of the story and respect differing points of view. The film gives forceful examples of positive ways of dealing with disappointment, anger, and fear.

  • rolemodels true5

    Role models: Follows the "adventures" of Ted Kramer as he is transformed from a self-centered, career-driven man to a loving, effective father with a clear sense of purpose and balance in his life. Each "mistake" results in a new insight. Filmmakers take care to help the audience understand what drives the woman who seemingly abandons her young son. The businessmen depicted tend toward stereotype with little awareness of family. Little ethnic diversity (some background players).

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: In a suspenseful sequence, Billy, age 6, falls from a jungle gym. His face is bloody, and his father rushes through city streets to get him to an emergency room, where a doctor stitches a gash in his face. Some tension during father-son arguments; the dad carries the screaming boy to his room.

  • sex false3

    Sex: A couple is shown in bed after having sex. In what is intended to be comically embarrassing, the nude woman gets up and goes into the hallway, where she unexpectedly encounters a 6-year-old boy and uses her hands to cover her genitalia, but her breasts are visible. She's also seen fully naked from behind. Some couples are seen kissing at a holiday party.

  • language false3

    Language: Multiple instances of "goddamn it." One "s--t" and one "bastard."

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Some grocery items are seen on market shelves and in the Kramer kitchen (among them are Tab, Tide, Special K and Total cereals, Schrafft's ice cream). A few liquor brands are visible on a bar counter (Seagram, Beefeater, JB). Singer sewing machine, Burberry, Miriam Rigler Bridal store.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Casual social drinking occurs in several dinner, restaurant, and party scenes. Ted Kramer pours himself a drink after a particularly difficult moment with his little boy. A few characters smoke upon occasion.