Parental Guidence – Generations collide
By Jess Fenton, 17 December 2012
Itâ€™s been years since Billy Crystal has done anything noteworthy as an actor, but if the publicâ€™s reaction to his hosting gig at this year’s Oscars was anything to go by, his appeal has not wavered in his absence. Crystalâ€™s new big screen Christmas extravaganza â€˜Parental Guidanceâ€™ shows that he may look a little older, a little wiser and a little… well, this is Hollywood after all, a little more chemically enhanced – but that sly wit and Billy Crystal charm hasnâ€™t budged an inch.
Crystal plays Artie Decker, a minor league baseball announcer recently let go after the team decides to move with the times. When his daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei) askâ€™s Artie and Diane (Bette Midler) to watch the three grandkids for the week, Diane jumps at the chance to get out from under their â€œother grandparentsâ€ moniker. This comedy of errors bursts forth when old school parenting meets 21st century type-A coddling and the kids (young and old) get stuck in the middle.
â€˜Parental Guidanceâ€™ may be formulaic and predictable, but itâ€™s also a lot of fun and has plenty of heart. The Crystal/Midler combination is so seamless and effervescent itâ€™s incredible that no one thought of it years ago – for that, weâ€™ll overlook the fact that they’re supposed to have birthed Marisa Tomei (I mean, come on people!). The kids, while ridiculously mismatched as brothers and sister, are terrific with 13-year-old Bailee Madison once again proving her weight in gold as not only a young actor but a bright comedienne.
The comedy and sentimentality work together beautifully as both Crystal and Midler play to their strengths and tag team each other for the laughs and tears. Itâ€™s also nice to see some light and humour shed on this most relevant and often volatile subject matter as boundaries, development issues and a childâ€™s pressure to succeed are all tackled with sincerity and sensitivity, as well as a giggle here and there.
This may not be the best movie going around but itâ€™s fun, itâ€™s funny, itâ€™s suitable for all ages and quite frankly, itâ€™s worth it just to remind ourselves that thereâ€™s a Billy Crystal in the world.