When it’s over, old school meets new school. Artie and Diane Decker (Billy Crystal and Bette Midler) agree to babysit their three grandchildren, while the parents (Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott) are out of town. Things get out of control when old-fashioned childrearing collide with "no sugar, no gluten, and gadgetized" lifestyles. Veteran entertainers, Crystal and Midler have great chemistry and are wonderfully paired. This is their first film together after more than 30 years of friendship (a long overdue collaboration). My favourite scene is when the couple does their rendition of the Monotones' 1958 doo-wop classic, The Book of Love. The music dance number is a nice surprise, even though it is unrelated to the story, it adds to the likability of the characters. I did not find the story engaging, and I think it is mainly because I am not a grandparent. Crystal developed this story based on his experiences with his grandchild, and the grandparent’s voice rings true and clear. Unfortunately, I cannot relate to those feelings, not yet. (However, I may feel differently in 20 years) Crystal is still a multi-talented improv comedian, but I see him missing some beats in this film. Although he offers some good laughs, there is an unnecessary pause right after the jokes or punchline, like the end of a dance number on Broadway. The pause is distracting and breaks the flow of the scenes. Overall, Parental Guidance is a decent family film with enough silly scenarios to keep the viewer from nodding off. It has all the ingredients that make it watchable for all ages, plus a few extras, including issues on raising a “holistic” child, helicopter parenting, and bridging the generational gap.
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