Written by / 12/31/2012 / No comments / , , ,

PARENTAL GUIDANCE

year: 2012 cast: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler rating: ***1/2
Remember in CITY SLICKERS when Billy Crystal's character turned 39 and his parents call to leave an early morning birthday greeting… and they couldn’t be more out of touch?

Well the tables have turned, and how those tables have changed…

Billy Crystal is now a grandpa. He and wife Bette Midler have three grandkids from daughter Marisa Tomei, who raises her brood in an extra cautious, politically correct environment, revved up a few notches since her husband has designed a state of the art house protected by a virtual nanny, something straight out of THE JETSONS. Yet all this “high falutin” stuff serves only one purpose: to show how a sixty-something like Crystal, as Artie Decker, and Midler, as Diane, are completely lost in the new age.

Some examples are: the oldest son plays on a baseball team where there are no outs and no winners. For Artie, a baseball sportscaster that just lost his job, this makes no sense. Other situations include the twelve-year-old daughter being forced to play violin without having a social life… But the biggest obstacle is the youngest son, who makes that china shop bull seem like a graceful swan.     

The best scenes have Artie and Diane, finally free of being scrutinized by daughter Alice, taking on this new generation with old school practicality and bluntness. A surprisingly subdued Midler is more of a sidekick here, taking backseat to Crystal – this is really his vehicle.

With a good heart, Artie does all the wrong things: from providing his grandkids a birthday cake (they’re progressive health nuts); taking the youngest to a skateboard park; and a crazy night at a classical music concert. With something disastrous around every corner, Crystal successfully wields his signature put-upon countenance on a noticeably aged face.

Despite too much talky downtime towards the conclusion – each character discussing their lessons learned as if the audience wasn’t aware – this is a lightweight comedy that really hits the spot.

Oh and there’s a pretty blatant message intact: the older it is, the better!
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