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This is the first time in ages some of 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.
Billy Crystal and Bette Midler hustle to peddle the threadbare material that makes Andy Fickman's comedy a perfectly tolerable, if uninspired, moviegoing experience.
Parental Guidance is overly generous with regard to the silliness. However, it's not clueless. Crystal seems determined to give as generously as he gets. When a bully whacks him, Crystal covers the bully in vomit. Good for him.
Perhaps anticipating an older audience, most of the lessons are one-sided, with the old-timers seemingly harming the children while actually saving them.
The execution, alas, prevents this from being a genuine crowdpleaser, with the better moments (mostly of the schmaltzy variety) more than offset by the irritating and tedious ones.
The actors deserve credit for the professionalism they bring to this stinker, especially Tomei, who plays it straight as a contemporary have-it-all-or-die-trying mom, and Midler, who's given little to do, but works up an amusing backstory about her days as a good-time gal on the evening news.
Lazy, smugly self-satisfied movie.
The movie spends too much time wedging the couple into a May-December moment, where Crystal cracks nostalgic about the good old days. It's sweet, but it grows old.
Parental Guidance is the abysmal grandpa/grandkids bonding comedy he's (Crystal) been destined to make since he first started creating new comedy with an unmistakable old-person smell.
Slant Magazine
Andy Fickman's comedy offers a confused and flat portrayal of generational differences.

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