Kramer vs. Kramer: Everett Collection
EW Staff
November 22, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Why ”Kramer vs. Kramer” is a top tearjerker

It defined ”yuppie angst” before the term was even invented. After wife Joanna (Meryl Streep) abandons her family to ”find herself” (give her a break — it was 1979), Manhattan adman Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) raises their young son (Justin Henry). The emotional struggle that occurs when Joanna decides she wants her boy back packs a more potent punch since the subtle performances avoid the obvious hero/villain stereotypes.

KLEENEX MOMENT At the custody hearing, Ted pleads with his ex-wife not to take their son: ”We built a life together…. If you destroy that, it may be irreparable. Joanna, don’t do that, please.” Snff.

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