There are certain actors/actresses that no matter what kind of mess of a film they are in I cannot help but like them. In Andy Fickman’s (You Again, The Game Plan) Parental Guidance there are two of those kinds of actors. No matter what Billy Crystal and Bette Midler star they end up entertaining me and they had to really be at the top of their games in this film.
Being a family means that you sometimes go through things together. This is a film about a family that is going through exactly that. Being a baseball announcer has been Artie’s (Billy Crystal – When Harry Met Sally, America’s Sweethearts) whole life, so when he is fired from his job he is like a fish out of water. His wife Diane (Bette Midler – The Rose, First Wife’s Club) has been concerned about her and Artie’s lack of a relationship with their grandkids. Their daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei – My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler) is a type-A mother who does not spend much time alone with her husband, Phil (Tom Everett Scott – Because I Said So, That Thing You Do!).
When Phil asks Alice to come watch him in a race this opens up an opportunity for Diane to spend time with Harper (Bailee Madison – Just Go With It, Bridge to Terabithia), Turner (Joshua Rush – Puss in Boots, Playing For Keeps) and Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf – from television’s Being Human) and Artie to try and figure out where he is going in life. Despite her initial doubts Alice does have to leave the kids with her parents and this is where Artie and Diane’s old school methods clash with the way the kids have been brought up.
Though there are some growing pains on both sides, but what ends up happening is everyone learns a lot about themselves and ends up getting what they need.
The film is meant to be a family comedy that deals with the generational gap between how parents brought up their kids and now how their kids are bringing up their own kids. Now, right away when I tell you of the basic premise you will recognize that you’ve seen it all before and you would be right. There is really nothing special about the plot. We have all seen films that feature kids running around chaotically and screaming with their parents/grandparents chasing after them. In other words a generic family movie.
What elevates the film to bearable is the team of Crystal and Midler. Each is hammy as ever, but still effective. Bette Midler is the quirky and zany grandmother who used to be a weathergirl. She is one of the few actresses who could play opposite Billy Crystal and not get chewed up like the scenery. Crystal is someone who has made a very nice living indeed off his priceless physical reactions. As the perplexed grandfather he is relaxed, funny and a smooth talker. All around him is chaos and he remains calm. Yes, we have all seen his schtick before, but, hey, if ain’t broke don’t fix it.
-FXM Productions Presents: In Character With Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei