Parental Guidance

Movie: Parental Guidance, 1 hour and 45 min. This 2012 romp stars Billy Crystal as Artie Decker and Bette Midler as his wife, Diane, the self-described “Other Grandparents.” The Deckers agree to babysit their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents, played by Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott, must leave town for work and find themselves without coverage for the kids. Somewhat estranged from their daughter, the Deckers don’t know what they are in for when they pull up to her house and are confronted with Harper's high achievement syndrome, Turner's stutter, and Barker's imaginary friend, Carl.
        Needless to say, there is bound to be a clash when the kids’ totally PC upbringing meets their grandparents’ old-school childrearing style. There is too much potty humor, the writing is pedestrian, and the Deckers’ ultimate reconciliation with their adult daughter is schmaltzy. Nevertheless, there are three good reasons to watch Parental Guidance: 1) The charm of Crystal as a washed-up minor league sports commentator and Midler as an eager-to-please housewife more than make up for the plot’s deficiencies. 2) Every grandparent can identify with the Deckers’ plight of supervising young kids in a strange house with little direction. 3) We all need a good, uncomplicated laugh now and then—especially now.

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