Kramer vs Kramer (Columbia Classics Vol. 4) UHD Review

4.5 Stars More than just a custody battle drama
Kramer vs Kramer Review

Robert Benton’s Kramer vs Kramer makes its 4K debut as part of Sony’s Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 4.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Released: 19 Dec 1979
Rated: PG
Runtime: 105 min
Director: Robert Benton
Genre: Drama
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander
Writer(s): Avery Corman, Robert Benton, Meryl Streep
Plot: After his wife leaves him, a work-obsessed Manhattan advertising executive is forced to learn long-neglected parenting skills, but a heated custody battle over the couple's young son deepens the wounds left by the separation.
IMDB rating: 7.8
MetaScore: 77

Disc Information
Studio: Sony
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DTS, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1 Hr. 44 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 2-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 02/13/2024
MSRP: $215.99

The Production: 4/5

Workaholic ad copy writer Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) arrives home late one evening to find that his wife of eight years, Joanna (Meryl Streep) is leaving him and their 7-year old son Billy (Justin Henry), with no reason other then she has been unhappy, handing Ted her keys to their apartment and her credit cards, then  vanishes without a trace. Ted then struggles to find a balance between taking care of his son and his career, with some help from recently divorced single mother and neighbor Margaret (Jane Alexander). Although the title of the film and the trailers would have one believe this is a court room drama centering on a custody battle for Billy, the heart of the film is Ted’s struggles to becoming a single parent while trying to keep his job, while the actual custody battle doesn’t occur until the third act.

Kramer vs Kramer is a definite product of its time, the end of 1970s cinema. It paints how courts perceived women during that time, typically granting custody to the mother in the majority of the cases, and Hoffman’s Ted makes a point about that while on the stand. There is also lots of cigarette smoking in the workplace, which I had forgotten was once allowed, even while I was just entering the workplace in the mid 1980s. The film went on to win 5 Academy Awards (it was nominated for 9), including Best Actor to Dustin Hoffman, Best Actress to Meryl Streep, Best Director and Best Screenplay to Robert Benton, and Best Picture. Nearly nine years old at the time, Justin Henry was the youngest actor to receive an Oscar nomination, in this case a supporting role.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

Per the restoration notes by Grover Crisp included in the collectable book, the original picture negative was wet gate scanned in 4K with additional digital image restoration and color grading to create a new 4K DCP (Digital Cinema Print). Sony’s 2160p HEVC encode also includes both Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range. Colors are naturally strong, appearing bold and vivid but never oversaturated. Fine details are excellent, from skin pores to fabric textures. Contrast is exceptional, allowing for deep blacks with strong shadow details and bright highlights that don’t clip. Film grain is organic and never distracting. This is possibly the best Kramer vs Kramer will look. Unfortunately, Sony has not included a remastered Blu-ray, and instead has recycled the 2009 release.

Audio: 4.5/5

Kramer vs Kramer makes its 4K debut with a new Dolby Atmos mix that expands on the 5.1 mix created back in 2004 (and available on this disc with some additional cleanup and tweaks in DTS-HD MA). While for the most part the mix remains faithful to the original theatrical mono mix (also available on the disc in DTS-HD MA 2.0) by focusing more on the front speakers but giving them more room to breathe. Surrounds and heights are used tastefully, adding some discrete ambient and acoustical effects such as traffic, bird songs etc. The courtroom scenes, though, are a little overdone with trying to recreate the acoustics of the room, with the echoes sometimes drowning out the dialogue. Otherwise, dialogue is clear and understandable.

Special Features: 3/5

UHD Disc
Audio Commentary with Film Professor Jennine Lanouette: Lanouette teaches script analysis and screenwriting through her company, Screentakes Digital Publishing, and provides some nice analysis of the film.

Deleted Scenes (upscaled 1080p; 6:21): Five scenes have been included in black and white with subtitles to replace missing dialogue.

Featurettes (upscaled 1080p; 10:56): Four excerpts from what appears to have been recorded as part of a press screening for the original Blu-ray release – Robert Benton on Acting, Justin Henry on Acting, Mothers and Daughters and Points of Pride.

Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 1:39)

Blu-ray Disc (2009 Blu-ray release)
Making of “Kramer vs Kramer” (480i; 48:44)

Digital Copy: A Movies Anywhere code is included for all six films in the boxed set.

Overall: 4.5/5

Although currently only available on UHD disc in the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Vol. 4 boxed set, Kramer vs Kramer has never looked or sounded better.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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MovieMan66

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Jay
Jennine Lanouette's audio commentary was, easily, one of the top 5 worst I've ever heard. Her input was almost totally useless, providing basically no information about the production itself, limiting her commentary to the screenplay only, which she over-praised throughout. And, with all of the periods of silence on her track, she probably doesn't even talk for half the film (which, given what she had to say, is probably not a bad thing).
 

bmasters9

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Jennine Lanouette's audio commentary was, easily, one of the top 5 worst I've ever heard. Her input was almost totally useless, providing basically no information about the production itself, limiting her commentary to the screenplay only, which she over-praised throughout. And, with all of the periods of silence on her track, she probably doesn't even talk for half the film (which, given what she had to say, is probably not a bad thing).

Which leads me to wonder, why do some who give audio commentaries many a time say the wrong things, or hardly speak at all?
 

Wayne Klein

Second Unit
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Which leads me to wonder, why do some who give audio commentaries many a time say the wrong things, or hardly speak at all?
Makes me wonder-why keep hiring them? I would have loved a comprehensive review of the production including the screenplay. Benton was Widely praised at the time as a dirctor but has fallen out of favor which is too bad. His films are still quite good.
 
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MovieMan66

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Not to be too mean to Ms. Lanouette, there is one other aspect of her commentary that I neglected to mention in my initial post: she needs to have her eyesight checked. In her commentary during the scene where Kramer opens the apartment door to bring in the newspaper while Justin Henry dole's out the doughnuts for breakfast, she tells us that it has to be a Sunday, because the newspaper is, according to her, a Sunday edition. If that is a Sunday New York Times then I'm (to quote James Caan in "Thief") a jet airplane pilot!
 

bmasters9

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Ben Masters
Not to be too mean to Ms. Lanouette, there is one other aspect of her commentary that I neglected to mention in my initial post: she needs to have her eyesight checked. In her commentary during the scene where Kramer opens the apartment door to bring in the newspaper while Justin Henry dole's out the doughnuts for breakfast, she tells us that it has to be a Sunday, because the newspaper is, according to her, a Sunday edition. If that is a Sunday New York Times then I'm (to quote James Caan in "Thief") a jet airplane pilot!

Is the dateline shown in any detail on the paper's front page to determine if it is indeed a Sunday paper?
 
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