Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gary David Goldberg|
|Produced by||Gary David Goldberg
|Written by||Gary David Goldberg|
|Based on||The novel Dad
by William Wharton
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||Eric A. Sears|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|October 27, 1989|
Dad is a 1989 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Gary David Goldberg and starring Jack Lemmon, Ted Danson, Olympia Dukakis, Kathy Baker, Kevin Spacey and Ethan Hawke. It is based on William Wharton's novel of the same name. The original music score was composed by James Horner. The film was produced by Amblin Entertainment and distributed by Universal Pictures.
John Tremont (Ted Danson) is a busy executive. He learns during a meeting that his mother has collapsed and been rushed to the hospital. Flying immediately to Los Angeles, he ends up becoming a caretaker of his father Jake (Jack Lemmon) while Bette Tremont (Olympia Dukakis) recovers from her heart-attack. A retired aerospace industry worker, Jake has become somewhat feeble and totally reliant on his wife, so John attempts to get him more involved in day-to-day things like taking care of the house.
Father and son bond. John invites his dad to a business meeting and takes him out for a Bingo game. They play catch with a baseball in the yard. Late one night, college-aged grandson Billy (Ethan Hawke) turns up as well. John begins to appreciate while spending quality time with his dad that he has been neglecting his own boy.
Bette returns home from the hospital. She is a strong, willful woman with little personal warmth. Jake is very happy to have everyone around him again during family dinners with the kids, including daughter Annie (Kathy Baker) and son-in-law Mario (Kevin Spacey), but the glum Bette resents the intrusion. One day, Jake Tremont finds blood in his urine and is taken to a doctor. John has a single request at the hospital—to avoid the word "cancer," which terrifies his dad. An arrogant doctor named Santana (J. T. Walsh) who feels he knows what's best decides that a patient has a right to know. Jake immediately loses his bearings and ends up in a coma.
A fiercely protective John stays by his dad's side constantly and a more sympathetic doctor named Chad (Zakes Mokae) volunteers his help. Jake unexpectedly wakes up one day and seems perfectly fine. Upon coming home, Jake acts reborn and reinvigorated. He confuses his wife by dressing in an odd manner, studying new languages, visiting the neighbors and even wanting sex at night. John feels his dad is just trying to enjoy life, something his bitter mother seems incapable of doing. Something more is definitely wrong with Jake, however. He is having delusions about being the head of a different family, a far-away farm.
A psychiatrist concludes that Jake sought joy in a fantasy world while being unable to experience a sufficient amount in his own. Jake has a relapse. In the hospital, he reminisces with his son about things that made him happiest, like work and baseball, before passing away. John, a better man for the experience, returns to his old life.
- Jack Lemmon as Jake Tremont
- Lemmon's son Chris played as Young Jake in the flashbacks
- Ted Danson as John Tremont
- Justin Peterson as Young John
- Olympia Dukakis as Bette Tremont
- Gina Raymond as Young Bette
- Kathy Baker as Annie Tremont
- Sprague Grayden as Young Annie
- Kevin Spacey as Mario
- Ethan Hawke as Billy Tremont
- Zakes Mokae as Dr. Chad
- J. T. Walsh as Dr. Santana
Dad currently holds a 56% rating on website Rotten Tomatoes indicating largely mixed reviews by critics. Hal Hinson from the Washington Post wrote; ‘Dad is a melodramatic plumbing of the relationship between two generations of fathers and sons, and it runs through nearly the entire gamut of emotionally loaded issues, from infirmity and senility to reconciliation and death.’
Jack Lemmon received much critical acclaim for his performance. He was nominated for a Golden Globe. The film was nominated in 1990 for the Academy Award for Makeup (Ken Diaz, Greg Nelson and Dick Smith), which went to Driving Miss Daisy.