Share This Page

Crystal, Midler punch up 'Parental Guidance'

| Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, 7:16 p.m.

REVIEW

‘Parental Guidance'

PG for some rude humor; ** 12

There's something to be said for a movie not being as bad as it sounds.

In fact, that's most of what there is to say about “Parental Guidance,” a comedy in which Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play old-school grandparents who have to keep their new-age-ish grandkids for a few days. But it is sweet and means well, and Crystal is much more engaging here than he is wearing a tux and mugging as the host of the Academy Awards. So that's something.

Artie (Crystal) and his wife, Diane (Midler), are asked by their daughter, Alice (Marisa Tomei), to look after the kids while she and her husband, Phil (Tom Everett Scott), go out of town. A set-up scene lets us know that this is the last thing Alice and Phil want to do.

Alice didn't approve of the way Artie and Diane raised her. She's particularly distant from Artie, who wasn't around a lot while traveling for work. She and Phil are more touchy-feely types, taking things like kid empowerment to absurd levels.

And there, pretty much, is your movie. Will the grandchildren, reluctant at first, eventually respond to Artie and Diane? Will Artie and Diane learn lessons, too?

You know the answer.

You know all the answers, really, if you've ever seen any movie remotely like this.

The thing that makes it modestly better than it might have been is Crystal. This is the first time in ages the old stand-up Crystal shows through, flashes of quick wit instead of Borscht-belt antics. Not to the extent that it used to in such movies as “When Harry Met Sally ...” (which was, ahem, 23 years ago). But better than you'd expect.

Just like the movie.

• Wide release

— Gannett News Service

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.