Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The Wife, The Kid and I took in a matinee of Parental Guidance.

Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are dismayed to find that they’re “the other grandparents” to their daughter’s three mollycoddled moppets, and are determined to change this status while watching the kids for a few days. Slapstick wackiness ensues.

There’s not much to it as a movie; it’s just another heavy-handed family-values comedy. But it’s a real pleasure to watch Crystal and Midler in action—both with each other and with some of the other actors, including the kids, acting as straightmen, they get fast old-school vaudeville rhythms going. It may be Crystal’s best star turn since When Harry Met Sally.

The movie takes on wussified modern parenting, with its “choices” and diplomatic catch-phrases instead of simply saying “no” and telling the kid what’s what. It’s an audience-pleasing, fish-in-a-barrel target, but at least, in Parental Guidance, the attitude is reflected in Crystal’s and Midler’s performing style—heartfelt but precise, direct and disciplined.

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