Billy Crystal and Bette Midler do their absolute best to squeeze what they can out of the well-worn material that is Parental Guidance, a decent, if unoriginal, family film that hit theaters Christmas Day.
Crystal and Midler are “the other grandparents” who are given the chance to take care of their grandchildren with whom they have little to no relationship. Both actors do what they can to turn the painfully unoriginal plotting into something mildly entertaining, which alone is a testament to their skill. The end result is a film that may entertain a younger audience, and cause an older generation to wax nostalgic on days gone by, but left me yawning and looking at my watch a few dozen times.
Artie Decker (Crystal) has just been fired from his lifelong job as a minor league baseball announcer and is not exactly thrilled that his wide Diane (Midler) has volunteered them to spend a week babysitting the children of their only daughter (Marisa Tomei, who was wildly underused) and her husband Phil (played by the cuuuuuute Tom Everett Scott.)
As anticipated, the new-age helicopter parenting styles of Alice clash with her parents’ more laid back approach to parenting and a myriad of predictable gags and scenarios ensue. While the majority of character growth and focus is on Crystal, Milder is a welcome sight on screen and even gets a chance to belt a few notes towards the end of the film.
While I wasn’t thrilled with the film, it does end on a really cute note that had me leaving the theater with a smile that almost erased how boringly predictable the film was. There were some funny moments but not enough to cause any real laughter and not enough to warrant paying for a ticket. Unless you’re under 15 or a grandparent taking their children out for some bonding, I would avoid Parental Guidance.
If you’re looking for a comedy this holiday season, I would stick to Judd Apatow’s This is 40 which looks a lot funnier than this bland and predictable film.
Movie Rating: 1 out of 5 stars