If you are looking for the perfect sentimental, cross-generation family drama to watch on New Year eve, you cannot go wrong with Parental Guidance. Cue in the age-old debate about traditional parenting vs. the modern-day strategy of ‘flapping around but never slapping’. The film basically takes a dig at the sort of parenting where couples tend to plot out their child’s entire life before he is even out of the womb.
Cliché? Of course. Boring? Not really. The humor is strictly PG rated. Especially for children and a family get-together, this film can be one of those traditional holiday ‘sit-around-the-fire’ kind of watch. It would not even hurt if grandpa took a furtive nap in between!
There is enough meat in the story to keep the present generations from not falling asleep though. Particularly effective is Chaplinesque ‘smarthouse’ that can basically act as a modern-day butler including announcing visitors, checking when the toilet overflows etc.
The generation-gap melodrama/ comedy features Artie Decker (Crystal) as the superannuated minor league baseball radio announcer cum grandfather and his wife, Diane (Bette Midler). Marisa Tomei plays the role of their daughter and Bailee Madison is apt in the role of the oldest grandchild, a little nerdy 12-year-old too stressed out with lessons in violin to concentrate on her curiosity about boys.
Grandpa gets a kick from the job and the couple gets a request from their daughter to look after her children for a few days. They pack up in a hurry and leave since they barely get to see their grandchildren. Predictably, generation Y is not too pleased with the prospect and the start is wobbly. Many mishaps later in which grandpa embarrasses himself in a variety of ways, the grandparents succeed in loosening the kids up a little from their high-pressure schedule.
The conflict of ideals come into play as the debate over ‘the right way of parenting’ warms up a little but in the end, everyone realizes the value and charm of the old way of doing things. The children grow wiser and the parents learn a thing or two. What about the audience? I could not hear any claps but there were guffaws abound. If that is the sort of ‘movie night out’ you are looking for with your family, you have an additional choice in your kitty this winter.