Review: Parental Guidance
PLOT: When Alice and Phil Simmons need to take a week away from their children for work, they call the only two people available… Alice’s parents! Once they arrive, the grandparents try to relate to the grand-kids as comic situations ensue. Will this family accept each other to really be a “family?” Well, if the poop and fart jokes can’t connect them than nothing can.
Oh boy! Another comedy about the good old generation gap! A young couple attempt to raise their children without using the word “don’t” and forcing the young’uns to do too much at too young an age. And then the grandparents come along and don’t understand the newfangled ways to raise a kid… You know, “Back in my day…” and there you have it, the outdated and unfunny PARENTAL GUIDANCE attempts to bridge that gap, in a dated sitcom sort of way.
So here is the deal, Alice and Phil Simmons (Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott) play the modern parents who do everything for their kids. Sometimes even at the expense of their own quality adult time. So when Phil plans a work trip he convinces Alice to come with him… without the kids. Desperate for somebody to watch the three little angles, Harper, Barker and Turner (Bailee Madison, Kyle Harrison Breitkoph and Joshua Rush), Alice calls her parents Artie and Diane Decker (Billy Crystal and Bette Midler). The problem is that the concerned mother feels that her loony mom and pop aren’t capable of this, and boy oh boy do we find out why.
Loaded with a number of “fun for the whole family” crap, pea and fart jokes, there is a ton of fun for those who might find “Full House” appealing. The sentiment about learning how to expand your way of thinking is muddled and clichéd and barely generates a laugh. Every single character makes a dumb decision nearly every step of the way, one that the audience can see from nearly the beginning of the film.
This is not to say that PARENTAL GUIDANCE is totally devoid of humor. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the cast and you can’t help but feel a little bit of sympathy for Artie as he talks about his love of baseball. The opening sequence is actually sort of charming. And yes, the father/daughter vibe between Crystal and Tomei has its fair share of aw shucks moments. Yet none of it rings honest in any way. I almost felt bad for both Midler and Scott who have the thankless roles because more than anything, this is about a father and daughter trying to mend. At least it was in a script by numbers sort of way.
As far as the child performers go, they are slightly irritating but that is mostly because of the lame script. Funny enough, the children are never all that badly behaved in the beginning so it seems like the only people that actually learn a lesson here are the adults. Either way it is hard to care about any of them simply because this flick is so desperate to be hip that it ultimately feels as relevant as “Mr. Belvedere”… If you have to ask what that is, then you probably won’t enjoy this movie.