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After establishing himself in the hearts of TV audiences as Richie Cunningham in the long-running and hugely successful Happy Days, Ron Howard moved into directing with seemingly effortless dexterity. A quick glance down his resume will of course show a few duds, but there is a singularly impressive depth of quality to his output over the past 30-odd years and with Rush impressing critics and audiences alike, it seems that his hit rate will continue to be high for while yet.

As always, many will be horrified as much by the inclusions as by the omissions – this goes with the territory for a necessarily reductive approach to a large CV. This isn’t intended to be an analysis of Howard’s entire career, simply a few words of appreciation regarding some of his films which this writer at least considers to be among his best work. Rush is out on Blu-ray and DVD on the 27th of January.


1. Parenthood

Ask any parent, parenthood is tough. It can be a delight at times too. Parenthood the film is also a delight, but its main register is one of capturing those moments and seasons so accurately that you cannot help but smile, even if that smile is a wry one. Starting from the very first scene, with the kids being put to bed after an exciting but exhausting evening out and the little girl throwing up on Dad out of nothing other than tiredness. Sometimes all you want to do is just have a good cry and fall into bed. And that’s just the parents.

Steve Martin captures and sums up that incredible variety of experiences and emotions that parenthood entails – tiredness, exhilaration, heart-warming pride, exasperation, hope and despair. Expending yourself for your child’s birthday party and completely abandoning dignity and self-regard in celebrating your child’s successes. So many of the lines hit the nail on the head, whether it is this exchange:-

Karen: Do you really have to go?

Gil: My whole life is “have to.”

Or this excellent line:-

Tod: You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.

Parenthood is not an exercise in trying to show a none-more-gritty slice of real life – much of it is heightened, amplified and played for laughs, but there is an undercurrent of honesty and affection that leavens the more difficult moments and shows us that real life can be hard going, but it’s going to be alright.

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Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.