Parental Guidance opened Christmas Day opposite the blockbuster films (or so the studios hope) Django Unchained and Les Miserables. Both of these blockbusters run close to three hours, so I chose the small peanuts comedy, which runs just over 100 minutes and includes of lots of fun end titles. During the end titles each title card features the stars when they were younger. Younger means yesterday or before.
As it turns out, PG is a pretty good comedy with Bette Midler (now 67) and Billy Crystal (now 64) playing set-in-their-ways grandparents who must travel from Fresno to Atlanta to babysit theie grandkids for a week. Mom (daughter of Bette and Billy) played by Marisa Tomei and her hubby (actor Tom E. Scott) are thoroughly modern parents. The kids all have quirky issues.
For 35 years, BC has been a baseball announcer for the minor league Fresno Grizzlies. Bette is a stay-at-home granny. Just before takeoff the Grizzlies let BC go so he is a senior citizen, out of work, with no prospects. This all sets up a generation gap comedy with really big gaps.
The Atlanta family lives in a high tech home, with so many electronic gadgets that just going out the front door is an adventure. The grandparents still use a Princess phone. The kids seem to speak a different Earth language and eat food that the grandparents have never heard of. Getting Chinese food to go is out. Instead, they eat Pan Asian cuisine at The Healthy Tiger. The restaurant is run by scene-stealer Gedde Watanabe as Mr. Cheng. While not in many scenes, he is dominant when he makes an appearance. The kids are cute. Even with their foibles.
Bette has a few good lines, but mainly is just the granny trying to get along. Grandpa is BC in the announcer job. This lets him pretty much be the wisecracking, quick-witted, Oscar host, which is a role he was born to portray.
While often very predictable to adults, the kiddies in the audience thought even the corny jokes were a scream. When BC brings home an ice cream cake and leaves the two boys alone with it in the kitchen, the results are as predictable as your chances of beating the house in Las Vegas. There are lots of cuddly, warm moments after all the tragedy and weeping gets out of the way. The ending is easy to see coming, but a real tearjerker nonetheless. BC’s last baseball call at the movie’s conclusion is the best and funniest scene in the film. Stay for the credits and watch photos of the actor’s families flash by.
Rated 2.75 out of 4.0 family friendly recommendations.