Gary David Goldberg, creator of the 1980s TV series Family Ties, has brought to the screen an emotionally affecting adaptation of William Wharton's 1981 novel Dad. John Tremont (Ted Danson) is a high-powered investment banker who is called to Los Angeles when his mother, Bette (Olympia Dukakis), suffers a heart attack. While she is in the hospital, John stays with his father, Jake (Jack Lemmon), in the family home. After letting his wife take care of all his needs for years, this 78-year-old must relearn how to look after himself. But soon he is helping clean the house and even taking the test for a driver's license.
Jake's progress is interrupted, however, when he is hospitalized with a diagnosis of cancer. John camps out in the hospital room until his father makes a miraculous recovery. Back home, Jake is a changed man who dresses wildly, babysits his neighbors' children, and romances his wife. Bette can't accept this strange behavior in her previously docile husband. As John tries to mediate between his parents, he draws closer to his own college-age son Billy (Ethan Hawke), who has come for a visit.
Dad is a multidimensional family drama with many entry points. It deals squarely with the challenges and difficulties of old age and a long marriage. It vividly presents the struggles men have in expressing emotion and intimacy as fathers, sons, and husbands. And it charts the bonds of empathy, caring, and love that tie the generations together.