Parental Guidance


Old fashioned grandparents get called in to babysit grandchildren that are the products of (highly exaggerated) modern parenting. Much to everyone’s dismay, Grandma and Grandpa start butting in and offering advice and getting involved.

Will this lead to child rearing tragedy, with emotionally scarred children and adult relationships damaged beyond repair? Or will everything work out in the end because the old ways had a touch of wisdom to them after all?

C’mon. Do you really need me to tell you?

Artie Decker (Billy Crystal) is a long time baseball announcer for a minor league baseball team. After the end of the season, however, ownership informs him that he’s being let go so that the team can go with someone younger and more modern. His wife, Diane (Bette Midler) barely has time to console him before their estranged daughter (Marisa Tomei) calls asking them to come take care of the grandkids for a few days.

This is the last thing the daughter wants to do, of course. She never felt as if her parents were good parents, and in addition, she and her husband are raising their children in the most progressive manner possible. They barely ever say no, for example. Instead they might say “Why don’t you consider…”. She’s out of alternatives, though, so she asks her parents over to help while she and her husband attend to some out of town business.

Artie and Diane arrive eager to connect with their grandchildren, but what they find are three children with issues of their own. The eldest is a tightly wound violinist pushing herself at her music to the exclusion of everything else in her life. The middle child is a stutterer who’s bullied by the other kids at school, and the youngest is a hyper spaz with an imaginary kangaroo friend. Concerned with what they see, Artie and Diane roll up their sleeves and get involved in their grandkids problems… of course, this doesn’t help matters. Old School collides with New Age as the two grandparents butt heads with teachers, coaches, their daughter and their own legacy of parenting, with everyone’s relationships and mental health on the line.

Ironically, for a movie that has a lot of commentary about how coddling children is ultimately worse for them in the long run (all baseball games here end in a tie, for example), “Parental Guidance” certainly coddles the audience. Things are kept sweet, safe and silly along the way. Which isn’t bad, but it’s not good, either. The movie eschews one of its own points about modern parenting, and that is, without risk, there’s no reward. This is a film that’s all too happy to draw the walk.

Aside from that, the thing that I found a little irritating was the self indulgence that “Parental Guidance” allows its two leads. Crystal is a baseball announcer, which gives him plenty of excuses to talk baseball and drop baseball references. Midler’s character sings and does little USO style numbers here and there. It wouldn’t be the world’s worst thing if you weren’t thinking of these two having them worked in, but I was.

There are a couple of mild chuckles along the way, and if anything, it’s sweet and safe to a fault. But that’s still a fault.


Daniel Fogarty


19 thoughts on “Parental Guidance

  1. Hi, Fogs and company:

    Billy Crystal hasn’t been really funny since he left “Saturday Night Live”. Nor has he aged well. He was okay in ‘City Slickers”, but Jack Palance nonchalantly stole the film.

    While Bette Midler just makes my teeth itch.

    Think I’ll pass on ‘Parental Guidance’.

    • I really want to defend Billy, but you’re right, his biggest pop culture contribution the last couple of decades was “61*”. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      I wouldn’t try to talk you into this one, that’s for sure.

      (Milder makes your teeth itch… LOL! ๐Ÿ˜€ )

  2. May or may not see it. It depends on weather. Django Unchained has to come first tomorrow. If I’m not tired after that I may stay for P.G. But I have a feeling if I fall asleep during the movie, I won’t be missing much.

    • LOL. You’re quite right about that. ๐Ÿ˜€

      I bet you could fall asleep halfway through, wake up with the last 1/4 to go and not have missed a beat ๐Ÿ˜€

      Dont beat yourself up if you miss it in any way… Get Django in though!

  3. I like Billy Crystal but when I saw the trailer I couldn’t help but feel this looks like a dumb family comedy. Too bad, I hope he stars in a good movie again. Nice review.

    • Yeah, we’ll, the good thing for Billy Crystal fans is, you can tell he’s having in here at least. Should have mentioned that in the review. Dammit! Lol.

      But he is. His character is all about loving baseball, he does a little diddy from the 50s with Midler at one point… You can tell he’s having fun at least CK. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. This was so familiar, but I thought admittedly, I got more yuks from this than I did with The Guilt Trip. Still thought it was very tedious at times. Crystal made it usually bearable for me, at least…

    Slight SPOILER for anyone who’s reading the comments and hasn’t seen it… What did you think of Turner’s “self-realization/overcoming obstacle” moment on stage? I really wanted a baseball bat to the nuts. It was so loud, and the kid has no charisma! Maybe I only perceived it so badly…

    My mom really liked the movie, but I didn’t. My review will be up tomorrow or maybe later today, even… Anyway, happy New Year Fogs!

    • Happy New Year to you of, Dan. Hope it’s a good one for you… And for your blog, too!

      Meanwhile, I dunno, I think I liked this and the Guilt Trip just about the same. Neither is all that great, nor is either completely awful.

      As to Turner’s “moment of triumph” my biggest issues were a) You could see it coming for half the movie (being predictable is a key ingredient in playing it safe!) and b) it so obviously catered to Billy Crytal’s 1950s baseball fetish that it nearly sickened me ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      But other than that, hey, it was great! LOL

      • I hope the same for yours! I’ve gotten about 7200 views in three and a 1/2 months, so it’s pretty satisfying!

        So true…

        Not a completely awful because there are a few yuks and sweet moments along the way. Crystal and that weird Chinese (sorry, PantaAsian or whatever the heck it was) restaurant owner made it bearable.

      • That’s cool, Dan, keep at it, the longer you stick with it, the faster it winds up growing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Meanwhile, “Pan-Asian”. Pan meaning “all”, sort of a politically correct, non-national cop out… Supposed to be funny as part of the knock on all the politically correct new tangled sensibilities stuff that the movie was so fond of exaggerating and then knocking. LOL

  5. I wasn’t even aware of this movie but Billy Crystal and Bette Midler sounds like an interesting combo. Too bad it wasn’t as enjoyable Fogs, perhaps it’s still worth a rental though?

  6. Itโ€™s a pleasant, warm hearted family comedy. Itโ€™s not going to win any originality awards, but I was surprised with how likable everyone was. The kids are sweet, not the annoying brats they usually are in comedies like this. The parts having to do with their โ€œsmart houseโ€ of the future made me chuckle actually. When the house asks โ€œAre you ready to continue watching the horror movie Saw?โ€ as mom walks in, I laughed.

    • Well, I guess some time away from it may have softened me a bit. It wasn’t painful or anything, no, but it didnt try very hard or take many chances either. I suppose there’s a chuckle or two along the way, but I couldnt recommend it very highly… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Join in the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s