If you haven’t seen “Parental Guidance” with Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, and Marisa Tomei, you really should. And take your kids with you. It’s very entertaining and as wise/wise-ass as a family movie can be…
Artie Decker (Crystal), a multi-decade radio announcer for a minor league baseball team, has just been canned as too old-fashioned. This eliminates his long-term dream of announcing for a major league team like the NY Giants. His wife Diane (Midler) tries to buoy him up, but the blow has been too devastating. When their long distance daughter Alice (Tomei) calls to ask them to babysit their three grandchildren, Artie shakes his head no as Diane readily says yes.
Alice is an only child, who has long been disappointed by her inattentive father. She and her husband Phil Simmons (Tom Everett Scott) have been raising their children in the placid 21st century way. Harper (charming Bailee Madison) is their 12-year-old daughter, an aspiring concert violinist with a harsh-mouthed instructor. Turner (Joshua Rush) is the middle child with a stutter problem, a looney speech therapist/psychologist, and Ivan (Cade Jones) the Bully to deal with. The youngest twerp is Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) – who the heck names their kid Barker! – who has an imaginary kangaroo friend named Carl. The whole family enjoys dining out at Mr. Cheng’s Asian restaurant, which caters to all sorts of new age anomalies. Cheng (Gedde Watanabe) really gets into his customers’ uniquenesses, which astounds Artie.
Since Artie and Diane only see their grandchildren once a year, they are not quite familiar with them and vice-versa. After Alice and Phil leave for the airport on a business/get-away trip, Alice immediately returns thoroughly worried about leaving her parents with their well-trained new-age children. Her rules, her way of raising them is in jeopardy, especially by her dad. But, eventually, Diane takes Alice to the airport to catch up on some private time with Phil.
In the end, both sides of the family bend their rules, acquire some common sense, and become accepting of each other’s ways – to a certain degree…If you’re tired of violence, car chases, cussing, and nudity, then this PG film will appeal to you.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.