Parental Guidance: Film Review

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Parental Guidance is one of those godawful holiday movies that makes you yearn for the slightly less godawful period known as “dumpster season” which runs from early January through mid March when Hollywood unloads most of its surefire bombs that even executives who are paid to watch these movies won’t sit through. It’s also one of those movies that you know was purely a paycheck for its cast – and a formidable cast that includes Billy Crystal, Marissa Tomei, and the Divine Miss Bette Midler.

Of course, actors are only as good as the words you give them, and the words in this movie seem to come straight out of a 1990s sitcom about parenting (and that too a very bad sitcom about parenting). There’s the milquetoast middle class suburban couple played by Marissa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott who decide to dump their kids on her parents so that they can go vacationing. It’s the Casey Anthony school of Parenting they went to, it seems. Luckily for them, they get to exit in the first 20 minutes.

Since her parents are Bette Midler and Billy Crystal, you’d think the kids would be in for a good time. Sadly, that is not the case, since the kids are apparently on instruction to make their grandparents relive every mistake they committed against their dear, temporarily departed mother. You can see where this is going before it even starts.

There are a few good natured laughs in the movie, I’ll admit. Most of them are purely the result of the clash between parenting styles. The newer mommy and daddy treat their children like mini-adults, while the older mommy and daddy treat their children (and their grandchildren) like farm cattle. The best parenting advice you can glean from this movie is that no child should ever have to sit through a movie this lame.