The family-friendliest movie comedy this holiday season is also the sappiest and schmaltziest.
And thanks to Billy Crystal, the shtickiest.
“Parental Guidance” is a mild-mannered riff on parenting, then-and-now. It contrasts the top-down/career-first mentality of one generation with the coddled “nurturing” of today, but never takes a stand on which is better.
Basically, it’s a vehicle for Billy Crystal, and to a lesser degree Bette Midler, to riff on the spoiled, over-indulged and sometimes uptight kids their kid is raising.
Artie (Crystal) is a minor league baseball announcer who never got to his dream job, covering San Francisco Giants games. He’s content to make homespun wisecracks in front of the mike for the Fresno Grizzlies. Until they lay him off for not being hip.
Daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei) is a web designer living in Atlanta with husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott) in a totally computerized house with their three kids.
Into this world come “the OTHER grandparents,” the West Coast couple that never sees them because Artie has been all about the job all his life.
Whatever Artie and Diane did with Alice isn’t good enough for Alice’s kids.
Crystal delivers tepidly caustic rants, Tomei struggles to find anything fun about playing a smothering mother. A quicker, more cluttered movie would have been funnier.
— McClatchy-Tribune News Service