Today’s Prayer Focus

Parental Guidance

also known as “S.O.S.: Familia en apuros,” “Die Bestimmer - Kinder haften für ihre Eltern,” “Haos u kući - Matorci dolaze,” “Le Choc des générations,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for some rude humor.

Reviewed by: Jessica D. Lovett

Moral Rating: Good
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Kids Family
Genre: Family Comedy Drama
Length: 1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release: 2012
USA Release: December 25, 2012 (wide)
DVD: March 26, 2013
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporationclick photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

AUTHORITARIANISM—What is the difference between being authoritarian and authoritative? Answer


If I haven’t used reality discipline before, can I just start “cold turkey”, or should I ease into it slowly? Answer

GRANDPARENTS—Do grandparents who criticize the way you parent ever change? Answer

EXCESSIVE PERFECTIONISM—How can I get my perfectionist husband to back off and not be so picky with our kids? Answer

good grandparent and grandchildren relationships

negotiating with kids

alternate ways to discipline kids

kids that are over-scheduled, and have little time to act like kids

Parenting and family Q&As
Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring Billy Crystal … Artie Decker
Bette Midler … Diane Decker
Marisa TomeiAlice Simmons
Tom Everett Scott … Phil Simmons
Bailee Madison … Harper Simmons
Joshua Rush … Turner Simmons
Kyle Harrison Breitkopf … Barker Simmons
Jennifer Crystal Foley … Cassandra
Rhoda Griffis … Dr. Schveer
Gedde Watanabe … Mr. Cheng
Tony Hawk … Himself
See all »
Director Andy Fickman
Producer Chernin Entertainment
Walden Media
See all »
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Trademark logo.
20th Century Studios
, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company

“Grandparenting is a second chance!”

Witty, sentimental, and fun for the whole family, “Parental Guidance” stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as previously uninvolved grandparents who stumble into a second chance at building a relationship with their grandkids when their parents leave—or try to leave!—for much-needed time away together. Artie (Crystal) and Diane (Midler) find themselves relegated to the position of the other grandparents… You know, the ones who only have one faded photo on the otherwise snapshot-filled mantle, the ones who are the second (or third… or forth…) phone number down the list to call when a babysitting need arises… however, they are determined to change that all in one explosive week with their three eccentric grandchildren, hopefully earning enough trust to repair their dicey relationship with their daughter and son-in-law in the process.

Clashing in parenting styles from their type-A daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei) and her techie inventor husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott), Artie and Diane find it hard to fit into their spotless, stylish home that is a proto-type of Phil’s invention called the “R Home”—a fully-automated home system that does everything from making sure you have a balanced breakfast in the morning to guarding the house against intruders at night! Crystal is completely believable as a passionate baseball announcer, almost teary as he reminisces about great baseball moments to his grandson, and Midler is equally compelling as his fun-loving sidekick, a bubbly former weather girl. The first bits of Artie and Diane trying hard to win the love of their grandkids through indulgence totally backfires and results in some funny scenes, showing them that house rules aren’t always made to be broken.

Not to give away too much of the silly, cake-in-the-face kind of escapades that carry this movie, there are some eyebrow raising points to consider before taking young children to this film. The children are mostly polite, but at times very disrespectful to their parents, as well as their grandparents… not to mention the grandparents being disrespectful to the wishes of the parents!

As Ephesians 6:1-4 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the Earth.’ Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

The preteen daughter shouts to Alice in a heated moment that she “hates” her mom and wishes that anyone else was her mom, the 5-year-old boy calls his grandfather “Fartie,” thinking it rhymes with Artie, and typical things along that line.

There is also one instance of Crystal rudely picking fun at an overweight individual, Crystal being hit in the groin with a baseball bat by a bully kid, a few light and scattered drinking or smoking references, a little juvenile potty humor, slapstick silliness, and the like. There is absolutely no formal cursing to speak of and no nudity, only some minor sexual references. For instance, Midler hosts an older women’s pole-dancing class in her living room, but the fully-clothed scene is clearly intended for comedic and not sexualized purposes. Also, in a couple of instances Phil speaks suggestively in the characteristic British-accented voice of the “R Home” to Alice, inferring sexual role-playing. There are other moments of quick bantering comments from the characters that contain slight innuendo, but nothing too worrisome. Alice and Phil are portrayed as happily married, loving parents—even with their strict, helicopter-style parenting convictions that are sometimes hard to live with.

A very good point that this film drives home with several plot points is that one should refocus one’s life dreams to fit in with the hopes and dreams of one’s family. For instance, pushing or using others to try and achieve goals is never rewarding in the end, even if the goal is reached. This movie strongly urges the audience to put family first and life second. Even the ending credits reverberate this, with the director, producer, actors, and other moviemakers being shown each in a framed photo with their family and loved ones. Even though this is a strongpoint, the secular film never touches on what should really be the first priority in our lives—our relationship with our Lord (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 2:9; Luke 10:27).

When the movie ended, I heard lots of exclamations from the all-ages audience of “How cute!” and “How fun!” and a few isolated cheers and claps… all in all a fun watch with a worthwhile, and, yes, even heartwarming message.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—This movie was great, so much better then I expected. It was funny, had lots of family issues in it and was even way more emotional and funny than I thought it might be. Just goes to show how Hollywood can make movies that don’t have any sex or cursing in it, and it can be great entertainment. When we support movies like this, they will see there is money in it, and they will keep doing it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Samantha, age 38 (USA)
Positive—Went and saw this with my family last night. This is the funniest movie I have ever seen. It was very well done. Billy and Bette were wonderful. This movie was clean and wholesome, and great for the whole family. As is usual in movies like this there was some crude humor (one of the kids calls his grandfather, Artie, “Fartie,” Artie(Crystal) gets hit by a kid in “no man’s land,” etc. That personally did not bother me, but some may be slightly offended. This movie will have you laughing so hard you cry, and then has several very tender moments that will make you tear up as well. Highly recommend!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Bryan, age 31 (USA)
Positive—This movie was wonderful! It was so funny and was just the right length. It was so in line with new age parenting. New age meaning, the kids are always right and competition is a bad thing. Ugh… The grandparents changed this family’s life for the better in less than a week. It was real and refreshing. I don’t feel this movie would be inappropriate for any age range. Enjoy!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Amber, age 36 (USA)
Positive—Just saw this and it is Funny, Delightful, heart-warming and CLEAN. Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are terrific together as grandparents trying to bond with grandchildren who are being raised in a very different way than old school. Lots of times to laugh yourself silly and when you come out of theater you realize you have been totally entertained. Good job hope there is more of this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Dottie Brawley, age 60+ (USA)
Positive—Loved this movie. How refreshing to go to a clean movie! Everyone in the movie is married and loves their spouse. The movie is very pro family, pro marriage. No adultery, foul language, or offensive sex scenes. We went with two other couples, and both men and women enjoyed the movie. It is funny and poiqnant. My adult children are excited to go and take our 13 and 7 year-old granddaughters.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Kathy, age 61 (USA)
Positive—This was a wonderful family friendly movie. I laughed and cried and, for once, enjoyed a movie with my 10 year old daughter without cringing. Well done Billy Crystal who also was the producer. I hope he makes more movies like this one!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
Christy, age 49 (USA)
Positive—This was a beautiful, light, funny, but poignant film to take my 8, 11 and 14 year old girls to. All the characters were flawed, which means they portrayed the reality of the world we live in, but, importantly, they all learned to forgive, to apologise, and through all this to grow and live in love. In this way, we are presented with the notions of Grace and Love, not as being excuses to stuff up, but as reasons to work together and support one another and grow.

My girls, as well as the fully packed theatre, laughed out loud almost the whole way through it. It was a beautiful movie and truly one that is enjoyable for the whole family. It is so hard to find something that is suitable and enjoyable for all ages, so this was a great gem to find. And it was truly funny, with a lot of great little one-liners. There were some mild objectionable content, but, for the most part, they were contextualised really well, so that it was just the normal experiences of life, or for the purpose of learning a lesson (sometimes even in humorous ways). See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Ruth, age 33 (Australia)
Positive—Finally! A quality movie that doesn’t make you want to leave the theater. The chemistry between Crystal and Midler was hilarious… Everyone laughed in the theater with their kids… IF you want a family movie, this is the one. Do you know how long I have been waiting for a quality movie? It’s been years. I just wish Hollywood would pump out more movies like this. Top notch, 5 stars, 2 thumbs up, people.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Vicks, age 42 (USA)
Positive—Went with my family this weekend. I have been looking forward to the movie. Overall, it was funny; Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are a good combination. The only part that was strange, and I felt should have been edited off, was the pole dancing part, it was just totally irrelevant. Otherwise, everything was okay.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
HW, age 50 (USA)
Positive—This is a very funny movie, and I had no problem taking my teenagers to it. No bad words, at all, which is very refreshing. Some groin kicks and other potty humor. The kids were unruly and disrespectful, at times; there were some consequences, and I would caution taking young children to see this movie because of this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Susan, age 50 (USA)
Negative—Hideous movie. Guys, don’t go see this one. It is another mom is the boss and always right, sicko flick. Hollywood humor is the pits: teaching the kids to lie and thinking it is funny; I walked out early and stayed out.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Bill S, age 63 (USA)
Negative—Bratty kids with no respect for adults! Grandson calls his grandfather fartie… ha ha… real funny. No kids were disciplined in the movie. Another liberal biased movie that portrays parents and grandparents as stupid and kids as the rational and reasonable type. I can’t think of any reasonable parent who would want to raise kids in such a hideous manner. The underlying problem here is that the underlying belief is there is no concept of sin or right and wrong behavior. Parents, if you want to ruin your kids, never correct their sinful behavior.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Kyle Barrier, age 51 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—Let me start out by saying this: GREAT MOVIE!!!… Very well acted, pretty clean, and most importantly VERY funny. For me, the only thing I found offensive was the pole-dancing scene, at the beginning. I was happily surprised to see that there was NO use of bad language, and everything else was HILARIOUS! The part I most especially enjoyed was the part where the kids eat the Caravel cake, and the girl tells her mom, “You lied! You said that yogurt was as good as ice cream!” If you have not watched this movie, I definitely recommend it. I hope that more movies come out as funny and as good as this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Jathan, age 13 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.