See it at the Movies

Parental Guidance


(Light comedy)

Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play Artie and Diane, parents of Alice (Marisa Tomei) and grandparents of her 6-, 8- and 10-year-old precocious children, who are asked to baby-sit for the weekend so Diane may accompany her husband on a business trip.

Artie and Diane aren't particularly crazy about kids and have seldom traveled cross-country to visit them. Artie has just been fired as the voice of his local minor league baseball team, which has sent him into a funk.

The running joke in this mildly funny comedy is the complete opposite ideas about child-raising between parents and grandparents, sometimes with funny results and at other times just plain dumb.

Crystal is one funny man and, given better material besides the patented groin and bathroom humor, he could have been much funnier as the opinionated grandparent. Same goes for Midler, who at least has a chance to show some passion as she bonds with her inhibited granddaughter.

The family lives in a modern automated house, which completely overwhelms the grandparents, who are further overwhelmed by the child raising techniques of their daughter.

But all's well that ends well, as Artie cures the middle child of his stuttering and the younger one of his attachment to an imaginary kangaroo, while Diane helps the older girl to come out of her shell.

There is one funny scene at the very end, with Artie calling a tee-ball game that is classic Crystal. If only there were more like it.

Rated PG, with bathroom, groin and vomiting attempts at being funny.


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