The Guardian Express
Parental Guidance, Crystal and Midler are fun to watch playing off one another
March 23, 2013
Andy Fickman built his film career directing mid-tier family comedies with the likes of “She’s the Man” and “Race to Witch Mountain.” With “Parental Guidance,” he walks the same ground by delivering an amusing, if altogether predictable, film about the complexities of familial relationships.
The always-lovable Billy Crystal and Bette Midler star as Artie and Diane Decker, an aging couple who have become increasingly alienated from their daughter, Alice (Marisa Tomei). There aren’t significant hard feelings between the three, but Alice didn’t appreciate the parenting style that her folks employed, and she is taking care to raise her three children differently. Things get tense when Alice and her husband, Phil (Tom Everett Scott), need Artie and Diane to babysit for a few days.
As events play out, Alice faces the worry that her old-school parents will instill “bad habits” in her children. In the meantime, Artie and Diane have no idea how to cope with the modern lifestyle that Alice and her family enjoy. Because this is a family comedy, everything works out in the end, and everyone is better off for the events that occur. The fun is in watching how things unfold.
Anyone who demands subtlety from the cinema may be put off by the movie’s in-your-face brand of humor. In fact, “Parental Guidance” is a borderline farce. The characters are larger than life, and they often do things no right-thinking human beings would even consider. Still, the movie is largely enjoyable.
Most of the credit goes to Crystal and Midler who are fun to watch playing off one another and the other actors in the ensemble. Tomei and Scott are solid in their cookie-cutter roles, and all three child actors (Bailee Madison, Joshua Rush and Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) do a reasonably good job. “Parental Guidance” doesn’t take viewers anyplace unexpected, and it’s certainly not highbrow. Nevertheless, it’s reasonably good fun for children and parents to enjoy together.
DVD and Blu-ray extras include deleted scenes and an audio commentary with Crystal and Fickman.