Artie and Diane agree to look after their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents need to leave town for work. Problems arise when the kids' 21st-century behavior collides with Artie and Diane's old-school methods.
The parents of Alice, a controlled mom, agree to take care of her 3 crazy children, Harper, Turner and Barker, because they feel they don't see their grandchildren enough, when Alice and her husband Phil go on a business trip for Phil. But when everything goes downhill, they need to find a way to prove to Alice, Phil, and themselves that they can be great grandparents.
Completely Delightful - Great Insight into the Reality of Parenting!
Parental Guidance is a completely delightful movie. Truth be told, I am a Big Marisa Tomei fan, but I don't believe that influenced my view of this very enjoyable movie.
That being said, Billy Crystal and Bette Midler rock too. There' a lot to this story, more than one might think. Alice Simmons (Marisa Tomei) and her hubby Phil (Tom Everett Scott) are ultra-Type A parents, who strive to raise their kids perfectly. They impart all sorts of touchy-feely, loving and encouraging words and phraseology on their 3 children. Who are adorable by the way.
Phil has to attend a company off-site in Hilton Head and wants Alice to join him. She says yes. In need of babysitters, they finally resort to Marisa's parents - Diane Decker (Bette Midler) and Artie Decker (Billy Crystal). As you might expect all is upside down from moment one. When they enter Simmons' house, the mantle is adorned with photos of Phil's parents with the grandchildren. This resonated with me big-time because my three children are much closer to my former in-laws than they are to my parents. Ah. . . such is life.
Simmons' eldest, teen Harper Madison (Bailee Madison - she also appeared in Just Go With It with Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler) is sweet! Turner Simmons (Joshua Rush) gives a sterling rendition of the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" (New York Giants vs. Brooklyn Dodgers - 1951 World Series) and younger brother Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) has an imaginary invisible Kangaroo friend Carl (ala Jimmy Stewart's Harvey)... What struck me about this movie is the reality of it. It's about the grades children give their parents and the mistakes parents think they made when raising their kids. Artie Decker sums it up nicely when he's speaking with Alice, "You didn't come with instructions." Ain't that the truth.
My parents tried hard I believe, but they left their marks in some ways. I try to be a good parent to my three children and no doubt have left my marks. But in the end and throughout, I LOVE my children and try to let them be who they are and encourage them to find themselves and their way. If nothing else, the point is we all try. Parents aren't as bad as their kids claim. Kids love their parents, despite their kicking and screaming. The generations old tug-of-war continues. And parenting is a combination of art and science. See this movie! While you're at it, keep your eye on Bailee Madison. And maybe Marisa Tomei too!
Arthur VanDam, film critic and author
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