Parental Guidance

I don’t really know where to start with this review. I guess I’ll start with what I’m expecting to see when I see a preview. I’m really bad at assuming I know what’s going to happen. Sometimes I’m right, happily sometimes I’m wrong, and then there are times, like with this movie, where it’s half and half.

The movie starts out with Artie Decker (Billy Crystal) as ‘de voice’ of his local Grizzlies’ baseball team. He’s really good at commentating and he loves doing it but after the last game of the season he gets fired. It’s predictable why he’s fired, basically he doesn’t poke or tweet, and I think they thought they hit gold with that moment of comedy but for me, eh. When he gets home his wife Diane (Bette Midler) comforts him. He’s lost for a moment since he wasn’t ready to stop but then decides he should chase his dream to commentate for the Giants though he doesn’t know where to start.

We shoot over to Alice Simmons (Marisa Tomei) Artie and Diane’s daughter, and her husband Phil, (Tom Everett Scott) who live in such a modern electronic home that it’s actually all controlled by a beta system called Rlife. Rlife can be programmed for alarm times, music, food, pretty much everything for each family member. This Rlife is Phil’s dream he gets invited to a conference to get his Rlife hopefully in production. Alice is going to with him, kind of a semi work vacation and they need Artie and Diane to watch the kids for a week.

What makes the divide even greater between Alice and her kids from Artie is that Alice and Phil are raising their kids in a new school that is different from Artie’s old school, tough love and strict rules. They use phrases like ‘use your words’ or if you give a ‘put down’ you have to give ‘three ups’ and you can’t use the word ‘no’ you have to say ‘think about the consequences’.

Their oldest, a young teen, is their only daughter Harper, Bailee Madison, who is extremely uptight and carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Next we have the two boys, Turner, Joshua Rush, middle schooler, who stutters and is shy because of it, and the youngest Barker, Kyle Harrison Breitkopf, who is basically toddler with lots of energy, but seems to get away with a lot of bad behavior.

Diane realizes that they are the other grand parents, the ones that their grand kids don’t really like. Long story short, it’s supposed to be about being open to new ideas but it just feels like old school versus new school. Billy’s Crystal’s comedy and Bette Middler’s and Marisa Tomei’s acting can pull it out of the boredom for some laughs and good moments and there are a few situational laughs with the children as well, but that’s about it.

The truly redeeming quality to this movie, besides the three main actors is the ending, the last ten minutes. It’s a surprising heartwarming ending, and only slightly predictable. It sounds crazy but it actually brings the whole movie up from a two star to a three star for me. One last thing is that the guest I went with has two children of her own and tried to get me to change my rating from three to four. I really can’t do that but I think that means that if you have children of your own you might enjoy this a little bit more than I did.

Bottom line, renter, unless you love Bily Crystal.

3 out of 5 stars.