Have you ever left your children with their grandparents for a few hours, a day, or a week? I’ve heard numerous stories from friends, about how their kids often pick up some unusual behavior, after spending time with the grandparents. That’s exactly what happens in Parental Guidance, when Diane (Bette Midler) and Artie (Billy Crystal) watch their three grand-kids while Mom and Dad are out of town.
When Artie learns he’s out of his job as the “Voice of the Fresno Grizzlies”, from his fast talking hip boss that wants someone that knows the difference between a hashtag and a hashbrown, he thinks things can’t get any worse. They do,especially, when he returns home and the audience sees his wife Diane (Midler) learning to pole dance. Artie wants to wallow in self-pity, but when their daughter needs them to watch the kids, his wife jumps at a “second chance at parenting.”
Diane and Artie have two different ideas of what a week with the grand-kids will be like, neither of them right. Their daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei) and husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott) are what most would describe as helicopter parents. Alice worries her parents won’t be able to handle the children, and looks for reasons to cancel her trip.
Harper (Bailee Madison) is the only daughter and has been working her entire life to achieve her dream of playing the violin professionally. As she struggles to find a balance between practice and play, she develops a strong bond with her grandmother. Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf), the youngest son, is obsessed with his imaginary friend Carl (a kangaroo). When Artie tells the kids to call him by his first name and not Grandpa, Barker declares him “Fartie.”
Turner (Joshua Rush), delivers the strongest performance of the bunch as a stutterer and victim of school bullies. Eventually, he and Artie share some intimate bonding moments over Artie’s love for baseball, that are endearing.
Other than the normal challenges of keeping three healthy kids on track, Artie and Diane also have an endless list of rules to enforce. No sugar, MSG, dairy, or gluten. They don’t eat real meat, they eat “soysages.” or “soy dogs.” Pee Wee baseball games don’t have outs and every game ends in a tie. Instead of saying “no” or “don’t”, they’re required to say something like “consider the consequences,” or encouraged to review other options.
Parental Guidance illustrates it takes a lot of different methods to raise children, and a combination of old and new ones, just might be the right mix. You’ll find yourself laughing and empathizing with both the parents and grandparents as they battle their way through discipline and car seats.
Overall Impression: Bette Midler and Billy Crystal genuinely seemed to have fun in their roles as Artie and Diane Decker. Crystal’s delivery is just as good as ever, and its one of his funniest films in years. Parental Guidance is a good family movie to see over the holiday break, that both kids and adults can enjoy.
Parental Guidance opens in theaters everywhere on Christmas Day. You can learn more about their family drama on Facebook.
I attended a press screening of this film in order to facilitate this review. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.