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Parental Guidance: The Perfect Family Movie

The Examiner
‘Parental Guidance’ is a perfect family movie
BY: STEVEN LEBOWITZ
December 25, 2012

Grandparents Artie and Diane (Crystal and Midler) rarely get to see their three grandchildren. So when they are asked by their daughter, Alice (Tomei) if they can come and watch them while she and her husband, Phil (Tom Everett Scott) go away on a business trip that will honor Phil, it comes as quite a surprise. Alice is a little uncomfortable at the idea of knowing that her father holds on to his old school ways of raising children while she has become a helicopter type of mother and is perfectly happy that way. When these two cultures clash, it brings along with it a lot of laughter.

It’s been ten years since there has been a movie starring Billy Crystal. He has been missed. Comedy has always come very naturally to him and he wastes no time getting us to laugh as the movie opens. Bette Midler always had a knack for comedy also and the two have excellent chemistry together.

There are great laughs throughout “Parental Guidance”. They come in many forms including physical and situational comedy, as well as through dialogue and editing. It helps that the audience can so easily identify with the characters on screen, as this could be almost anyone’s family. All the characters are very likable with all of their faults.

Marisa Tomei proves she can stand toe-to-toe with such comedy heavyweights as Crystal and Midler. The three grandchildren are all really good too. Bailee Madison, who plays the granddaughter, Harper, continues to grow as a fantastic young talent and her performance in “Parental Guidance” may even provoke a few tears among the audience members.

There have been some negative reviews of “Parental Guidance”. However, you could not find one unkind word from the people who saw an advanced screening of it in Boca Raton last week. Perhaps those negative reviewers are parents of over-coddled children and they took offense to this movie.

“Parental Guidance” is one of the best family movies to come out in a long while. It can be enjoyed by children, parents and grandparents alike. Besides giving good laughs, it has a solid message about family. Even the end credit sequence that shows the cast and crew with their real families was a nice touch. It is rated PG for some rude humor.

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