Entertainment

Reel Reviews: Rate Parental Guidance under dumb

Marissa Tomei tries to get away for a vacation while Grandpa Billy Crystal babysits in Parental Guidance.  - 20th Century Fox Pictures
Marissa Tomei tries to get away for a vacation while Grandpa Billy Crystal babysits in Parental Guidance.
— image credit: 20th Century Fox Pictures

Recently fired from his long running career as the radio announcer for a minor league baseball team, Artie (Billy Crystal) reluctantly agrees to use some of his new found spare time babysitting his three grandchildren.

His wife Diane (Bette Midler) is thrilled with the prospect of reconnecting with her grandkids, despite the vast differences between the way she and Artie raised children and the “modern” methods of her daughter Alice (Marissa Tomei) and her husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott).

Will all these parents survive a generational clash? Will the kids?

We say, “It stinks!”

HOWE: Oh this doesn’t bode well for 2013. Crystal and Midler were great 15 or 20 years ago, but it’s like they are still stuck there with their humour in Parental Guidance. If this is the calibre of stars we have to play grandparents for the next 20 years, heaven help us. This was a painful 105 minutes to sit through.

TAYLOR: It wasn’t entirely Crystal and Midler’s fault, although Billy’s penchant for vaudeville and Bette’s need to sing have remained the same for decades. The problem with Parental Guidance is that it is so formulaic. I really wish I had created a checklist of what I expected this film to be before seeing it. I’m sure every box would be ticked. It would have made the movie more fun.

HOWE: But that list should be burnt along with the script. It’s nothing new or original. Hollywood still sends us their trash to watch. What they think is funny just isn’t: the six-year-old boy calling his grandpa Farty over and over again, water sprayed on Crystal’s groin area to make it look like he’s wet himself, or Midler gyrating on a lap dancer’s pole. And I thought The Three Stooges was bad...

TAYLOR: Parental Guidance is 30 years too late. We get it, helicopter parents in the 21st century are busy (it’s not news.) Psychobabble child rearing methods are available (also not news.) Vain Grandma is seeking love, jealous that she and Grandpa are “the other grandparents” with their picture absent from the mantle. There are openings for humour in these situations, but at every turn this film fails to take advantage. Instead Parental Guidance is a parade of clichés. It isn’t even good enough for TV.

HOWE: Well, at least two things may come of this. First, by witnessing Parental Guidance I could have just seen the worst movie of 2013, and second, I don’t think they will make a sequel to this dross.

TAYLOR: There is probably an audience for this film. Some people might prefer safe, familiar, bland comedies like Parental Guidance, but don’t take your kids. It’s too adult for nine or under and too boring for over 10. As a family comedy, it fails. Instead, find yourself some dry bread and glass of water, then kick yourself in the groin, it’s about the same experience.

— Howe gives Parental Guidance 0.5 unfunny moments out of 5.

—   Taylor gives it 1.5 mock muted trumpet laughs out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

Peter Howe and Brian Taylor are movie critics living in Vernon, B.C.

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