Bette Midler has been nominated for two Oscars. Marisa Tomei has actually won an Oscar. And Billy Crystal, well, he's done neither, but he's hosted the Oscars enough times to recognise a good film when it comes along. Yet here they all are in Parental Guidance, one of the dullest, by-the-numbers comedies to have ever existed.
Artie (Crystal) and Diane (Midler) are a happily married couple, living the sweet life until Artie gets unceremoniously fired from his position as a baseball game announcer because he's not tech-savvy and "down with the kids." Meanwhile, their daughter Alice (Tomei) and her husband Phil (a beyond bland Tom Everett Scott) live with their three kids in a house run almost automatically by a computer system which Phil created, and is up for an award for. But the ceremony is out of town, so Alice and Phil plan to take a little week long trip, leaving Artie and Diane minding these grandkids that they barely know, using technology they don’t understand. Will hilarious antics ensue?
Short answer… No. It's not clear at what point Hollywood decided that every child in their movies needed severe issues in order to be cinema worthy, but the three grandkids in this movie have the full spectrum of problems; from anal-retentiveness to a stutter caused by bullying to having an imaginary friend who happens to be a rule-breaking kangaroo… it's just overkill. As for the grandparents, they seem to do everything wrong that a responsible adult can do. The message seems to be that being a kid and making mistakes isn't that much different from being a parent and making mistakes, but it's told so mawkishly that it'll actually make you physically gag.
It's difficult to be too negative on a film this harmless, but it doesn't help that the acting is mostly terrible, the script is almost completely devoid of actual jokes, and the overall plot sums up to "Respect your elders, cause they're always right." Except when it came to making this film; because for that they were very, very wrong.
Review by Rory Cashin | 12:21 | Monday 24th December 2012 | Movie Review