Comedy fans are falling in love with Steve Martin all over again thanks to Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” but in the late 1980s, Martin’s cinematic career was focused on more family-friendly fare, including the 1989 movie “Parenthood.”
Right now you might be thinking “Parenthood? Wasn’t that a TV show, not a movie?” It was both. The movie was adapted into an NBC series in 1990 and 2010. The 1989 movie followed the lives of three adult siblings (Martin, Dianne Wiest, and Harley Jane Kozak) as they try to juggle careers and aspirations while raising challenging children. The family’s patriarch – played with delicious indifference by Jason Robards – and younger, ne’er-do-well sibling (Tom Hulce) also show up to throw monkey wrenches into the works.
Released on Aug. 2, 1989, it earned adoration from critics and moviegoers alike along with two Academy Award nominations (Wiest for best-supporting actress and Randy Newman for the theme song “I Love To See You Smile.)
Director Ron Howard and the movie’s producers set the opening scene at a baseball stadium in St. Louis, but that’s actually Orlando’s Tinker Field in the film. Built in 1914, it was the spring home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, Washington Senators, and Minnesota Twins over the decades. Once located next door to present-day Camping World Stadium, it was demolished in 2014 though the grounds it sat on remain a popular spot for holding music festivals.
Producers also filmed at Universal Studios Orlando before the theme park opened in 1990. A Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlor in Altamonte Springs is where Martin’s son Kevin has a breakdown. A Publix grocery store in College Park and Orlando Speed World both make cameos. Martin’s daydream about his son’s college graduation was filmed a few hours north at the University of Florida, where the production team removed Spanish moss from oak trees to give the locale a less-specific look.
Here are five more things you probably didn’t know about “Parenthood.”
WHAT A CAST: This might be the most impressive ensemble cast of the decade. Other actors include Mary Steenburgen, Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves and even Joaquin Phoenix as a young, misguided child. Even Howie Dorough of the Backstreet Boys was a teenage extra. You can see him in the first row of the classroom when Moranis shows up at school to sing The Carpenters’ “Close To You.”
ON AND OFF SCREEN: Because Howard directs it, look for his family members throughout the film, including father Rance Howard, brother Clint Howard and the first-ever appearance of his daughter Bryce Dallas Howard. Another interesting note: Martha Plimpton plays the older sister to Joaquin Phoenix (then billed as Leaf Phoenix). In real life, Plimpton dated his older brother River Phoenix for five years.
SOME STORY: The stories from the movie are based on the real-life parenting adventures of Howard, screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel along with producer Brian Grazer. At the time, they reportedly had more than 17 children among them. (The scene where Wiest mistakenly opens her daughter’s nude photos actually happened to Grazer, Howard later said in an interview.)
DEEP BACKGROUND: “Parenthood” was turned into a TV series twice. In 1990, Ed Begley Jr. and Jayne Atkinson took over the lead roles and a young Leonardo DiCaprio took on Joaquin Phoenix’s character. It aired just 12 episodes. The second try in 2010 – starring Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, and Dax Shepard – ran for six seasons.
REGRETS, SHE HAS A FEW: In a “Vanity Fair” interview in 2016, Dame Helen Mirren said she had never regretted not having children … until she saw “Parenthood.” She said: “It was about the whole story of being a parent, and how it never stops, even when you’re a grandparent. I realized I would never experience that, and for about 20 minutes, I sobbed for the loss of that and the fact that I never experienced it.”
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