Good night. Sleep tight. See you in the morning light.

I’ve heard people in sitcoms and movies mention this movie several times in my adult life. In Seinfeld you got this guy named Kramer. Not really good looking, like everyone else on Seinfeld to be honest. And for the first time in my life did I see this movie. After 32 years of living. Thanks to Home Box Office, I get to see quality movies every now and then. Quality movies, you see, have no expiry dates. Unlike milk. Unlike credit cards. Unlike cosmetics.

I’m not ashamed of seeing this movie this late in my life. After all, I am a late bloomer. The late bloomer sees the sun when all the other flowers have begun to wither. Seeing Kramer vs Kramer at a certain age, after all sorts of experiences have happened in life, give one’s self a better understanding of the story. I’m not saying that when I’m 45, I will not find something else in the story I didn’t realize the first time around, perhaps something new.

Before Kramer vs Kramer aired I was watching 13 Going On 30 for the umpteenth time. Still very much in love with Mark Rufallo and envious of Jennifer Garner’s body. Compared with Kramer vs Kramer, 13 Going On 30 is just child’s play. But I still love it. Kramer vs Kramer on the other hand really displays Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman’s superb acting. A movie about everyday life gives a huge burden on the actors. No gimmicks, no armies of native Indians to hide behind. In such plain settings the actors and actresses’ talents are on display. The main event, so to speak. They have to act naturally and convicingly as well. Something expected from Oscar Winners at the time.

Without further ado, let me just put a couple of dialogues from the movie I found very moving.

This was the scene after Ted and Billy fought because of Billy’s disobedience.
Ted went to his son’s room to tuck him in. And they apologized to each other.

Billy Kramer: Daddy?
Ted Kramer: Yeah?
Billy Kramer: I’m sorry.
Ted Kramer: I’m sorry too. I want you to go to sleep because it’s really late.
Billy Kramer: Daddy?
Ted Kramer: Now what is it?
Billy Kramer: Are you going away?
Ted Kramer: No. I’m staying here with you. You can’t get rid of me that easy.
Billy Kramer: That’s why Mommy left, isn’t it? Because I was bad?
Ted Kramer: Is that what you think? No. That’s not it, Billy. Your mom loves you very much… and the reason she left has nothing to do with you. I don’t know if this will make sense, but I’ll try to explain it to you. I think the reason why Mommy left… was because for a long time… I kept trying to make her be a certain kind of person. A certain kind of wife that I thought she was supposed to be. And she just wasn’t like that. She was… She just wasn’t like that. I think that she tried for so long to make me happy… and when she couldn’t, she tried to talk to me about it. But I wasn’t listening. I was too busy, too wrapped up… just thinking about myself. And I thought that anytime I was happy, she was happy. But I think underneath she was very sad. Mommy stayed here longer than she wanted because she loves you so much. And the reason why Mommy couldn’t stay anymore… was because she couldn’t stand me. She didn’t leave because of you. She left because of me. Go to sleep now because it’s really late, okay? Good night. Sleep tight.
Billy Kramer: Don’t let the bedbugs bite.
Ted Kramer: See you in the morning light.
Billy Kramer: Daddy?
Ted Kramer: Yeah?
Billy Kramer: I love you.
Ted Kramer: I love you too.

And this is my second favorite line by Ted Kramer, his courtroom plea, his speech:

There’s a lot of things I didn’t understand, a lot of things I’d do different if I could. Just like I think there’s a lot of things you wish you could change, but we can’t. Some things once they’re done can’t be undone. My wife, my ex-wife, says that she loves Billy, and I believe she does, but I don’t think that’s the issue here.

If I understand it correctly, what means the most here is what’s best for our son. What’s best for Billy. My wife used to always say to me: ‘Why can’t a woman have the same ambitions as a man?’ I think you’re right. And maybe I’ve learned that much. But by the same token, I’d like to know, what law is it that says that a woman is a better parent simply by virtue of her sex? You know, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what it is it that makes somebody a good parent? You know, it has to do with constancy, it has to do with patience, it has to do with listening to him. It has to do with pretending to listen to him when you can’t even listen anymore. It has to do with love, like, like, like she was saying. And I don’t know where it’s written that it says that a woman has a corner on that market, that, that a man has any less of those emotions than a woman does.

Billy has a home with me. I’ve made it the best I could. It’s not perfect. I’m not a perfect parent. Sometimes I don’t have enough patience because I forget that he’s a little kid. But I’m there. We get up in the morning and then we eat breakfast, and he talks to me and then we go to school. And at night, we have dinner together and we talk then and I read to him. And, and we built a life together and we love each other. If you destroy that, it may be irreparable. Joanna, don’t do that, please. Don’t do it twice to him.

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