[Review] – Parental Guidance

7 Jan

Parental Guidance

Title: Parental Guidance
Year: 2012
Director: Andy Fickman
Writers: Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse
Starring: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott, Bailee Madison
MPAA Rating: PG, some rude humor
Runtime: 104 min
IMDb Rating: 5.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 19%
Metacritic: 37

Parental Guidance is the kind of movie that just shouldn’t really exist. During December when some of the very best films of the year are being released to vie for some awards attention we sometimes get stuff like this, family movies that are just absolutely horrible and that, like is also the case with this one, still manage to make a nice buck. Plus, no disrespect to them, but Billy Crystal and Bette Midler shouldn’t be the headliners of a movie in this decade.

The film, directed by Andy Fickman, who hasn’t directed a good film in his career so far (his last film was 2010’s You Again, which I gave a C- to), centers on the characters of Mr. Crystal and Ms. Midler, Artie and Diane, who go to Atlanta to look after their grandkids after their type-A parents leave town for work. What ensues then is that you have these old school grandparents with their set of strict rules colliding with 21st century kids and it becomes this trite and predictable movie about them learning to connect with each other and yadda yadda, you know how it all goes.

I just can’t tell you how much I disliked this film, especially when all the ones I’ve been getting to watch recently have been those end-of-year releases that are pretty amazing. Billy Crystal, of course, was born to play this role of the old man who’s nostalgic for the good old days and gets frustrated at how he can’t quite grasp the need for the iPhones and such. Fortunately for us, he’d been away from the multiplexes for a while now, so we hadn’t had to suffer with this schtick for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Billy Crystal, it’s just that he tires me (plus, he’s a Clippers fan) and I hadn’t missed not seeing him topline a movie in a decade at all.

Of course Billy Crystal is not the only thing that’s bad about this movie, but I do believe he’s the main thing. This from the fact that he’s also a producer here, and you just get the sense that he loves this kind of stuff. He loves the schmaltz combined with the tremendously worn-out jokes and the stupid scatological humor (one of the kids nicknames his character Fartie). All of that kind of felt like a Billy Crystal experience to me, you know, having there be a life lesson in there for the kids between every couple of vomiting instances or injuries to the groin. Ugh.

This is just bad, and yet these movies will always be here. Holiday family movies are usually this, dumb spectacles in which there’s poo so that the kids laugh and then it’s all wrapped up neatly in a corny life lesson so the adults can justify taking their kids to see it when they should’ve let them at home (with a babysitter, not with Billy Crystal) and gone to see Zero Dark Thirty instead.

Mr. Crystal, by the way, as much as I’ve trashed him a couple of paragraphs above, at least tries. He tries because, again, I think this is the kind of movie he loves to make. He’s always seem destined to play this kind of role, really, and now he’s finally the right age so he can go all-in and just sell it to paying audiences. But this whole schtick of the grandpa who doesn’t of every single that’s changed in America in the past quarter of a century is grown old, and the whole culture-clash storyline of this movie is one we’ve been seeing portrayed, in the exact same way, but with different cultural references, for decades now. We really shouldn’t pay to see a movie like this when so many better ones keep being ignored.

And I haven’t even touched upon what to me is the biggest offense I take with Parental Guidance. And that’s the fact that it tries to convince us that Billy Crystal and Bette Midler could have fathered Marisa Tomei, who plays their daughter who asks them to come over and who has a different view on parenting. This is not just me being pissed of that Ms. Tomei, who I adore, has a part in this movie, but I mean seriously, there’s no way those two could have fathered a woman as beautiful. She deserves both a better agent to advice her against these movies and better-looking on-screen parents.

To be fair, there was one time in which I chuckled during this movie, it was when Mr. Crystal kind of went off on a teacher at his stuttering grandson’s speech therapy class. I chuckled at that, but that was the only time. And for a comedy that’s bad. Not to mention it’s at least 20 minutes longer than it has any right to be and it seems to run out of jokes at about the halfway point, though, for its intentions, that’s well enough since during the last act of it it’s only concerned with all the corny stuff about families bringing themselves together and whatnot.

If it wasn’t clear enough already: I seriously advice against seeing Parental Guidance. It’s not the worst 2012 release, but it’s a tremendously crappy one that’s out at a time in which pretty much everything else in theaters is more than worth your time and money. It has Billy Crystal in a role that he was born to play, sure, but that’s just not necessarily a good thing, and I just hope he doesn’t get any ideas and starts producing carbon copies of this every Christmas.

Grade: D


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: