‘Parental Guidance’ utilizes corny dialogue, predictable plot

Ipsa Chaudhary

Of all the movies I have seen this year, Parental Guidance is by far the cheesiest. The previews made the plot line out to be pretty predictable to begin with. But they didn’t prepare me for the added sappiness.

Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play the “other grandparents”, Artie and Diane, who finally have the opportunity to bond with their grandchildren when their daughter, Alice (Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler), and her husband, Phil (Tom Everett Scott, That Thing You Do!), decide to take a much-needed vacation. Alice enlists her parents to watch her children while she and Phil are out of town.

Diane immediately agrees to babysit her grand kids  but Artie, having just lost his job as “De Voice” of a minor league baseball team, wants to do anything but watch his grand kids.

Unfortunately, Alice and her parents don’t see eye-to-eye on parenting methods. While Alice has an uptight no-sugar-allowed-and-use-your-words approach to raising her kids, Artie and Diane have a more old-fashioned way of doing things. Not only do they have trouble using Alice’s methods of parenting, but they also can’t quite get the grasp of the smart home program Phil installed in their house.

Image used under fair use doctrine
Image used under fair use doctrine

As expected, much of the humor revolves around technologically challenged Artie and the clashing parenting styles. Crystal never runs out of jokes, but his “in my day” plays intended to present the dominance of Artie and Diane’s parenting style seem rather overused. And in contrast, Alice and Phil’s contemporary parenting style seems rather improbable. I might not have any experience parenting, but many of Alice’s methods seem exaggerated. At least I don’t know many parents that never say “no” or “don’t” to their children. It seems a little far-fetched.

Eventually the movie seems to run out of jokes, taking a turn for the cheesy. After the typical screw-ups of Artie and Diane, Alice and Phil cut their trip short only to return home to chaos. But Harper, the oldest child, turns on Alice, and Alice turns on Artie. But the fizzle finally goes out with a bang, when Harper, Turner and Barker make up with their parents and grandparents. In the end Artie and Diane earn their place in picture frames on the mantle, no longer the “other grandparents.”
While the premise for the movie was one of a classic comedy, I could predict the end of the movie less than halfway through it. And I was right. After the typical familial trials and tribulations, the last half hour of the movie contained much crying and family redemption. All in all, it was a pretty run-of-the-mill family movie that, although didn’t leave much room for creativity, gave me what I expected.
By Ipsa Chaudhary