Swanner: Billy Crystal and Bette Midler star as Artie and Diane, grandparents who have been ostracized by their daughter (Marisa Tomei) but when no one else can watch her children Artie and Diane get the call to care for their grandchildren. Tomei still holds a grudge over her folks for the way she was raised…hilariousness ensues. Director Andy Fickman (You Again) creates a heartwarming family comedy about redemption and the realization that your family isn’t all that bad after all.
Judd: I’ve been thinking about Parental Guidance, and while it’s definitely not my kind of movie, I’m having a hard time trashing it the way I want to. Has my heart grown three times this holiday season? Hardly. But compared to This Is 40, which is more my type of film, Parental Guidance is a better overall movie with a tight run time, a story that doesn’t meander and much more likable characters. Don’t misunderstand me. The direction is hokey and Bette Midler comes across as a modern Ethel Merman, but unlike the bloated and pretentious crap coming out this season, Parental Guidance delivers what it promises.
Swanner: That is a very good point…it delivered what it promised and a bit more. I was really surprised how emotional it got without being schmaltzy. I’m not a big fan of “family ” comedy but screenwriters Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse did a really nice job creating a dysfunctional family. Believe me there were a few times I wanted to beat those kids…some really old school parenting but since Crystal and Midler felt the same way I was validated. The script also offered up some lovely sage advice I’d have never guessed I’d hear in this film.
Judd: I will grant you that the ending between Crystal and Tomei is poignant and well executed, but overall the movie is too broad and sitcom-y, to be really classified as good. For instance, Billy Crystal gets hit in his gentleman’s area with a baseball bat, and it’s played with no sense of irony or shame. Bette Midler could have taken a pie to the face and it would have fit right in. Tim Allen should have been the grandfather, not Billy Crystal.
Swanner: Okay, so it was a bit sitcomish but when Bette tells Marisa that she needs to take care of her husband because when the kids stop calling the husband is the one still there…I thought that was a very good moment. As TV as it is it’s still more entertaining than quite a few films I’ve seen this year (or this week) and personally I don’t think Tim Allen could have pulled off the role. When I tell people how much I like the movie I get the same response…Really? Yes, really! It’s not going to win any awards but it will make a nice offering under the Cineplex tree this Christmas.
Judd: The message in that Bette/Marisa moment is amazing in this day and age of “The Children Are the Center of Our World” parenting, and it was the moments like those that are keeping me from hating this film. The easiest way for me to describe it (maybe not for our readers to understand it) would be to say that Parental Guidance is like an old British MGB. It was a really good car that was horribly made.