Reviewed by: Jessica D. Lovett
AUTHORITARIANISM—What is the difference between being authoritarian and authoritative? Answer
REALITY DISCIPLINE—What is it? 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
Billy Crystal … Artie Decker
Bette Midler … Diane Decker
Marisa Tomei … Alice 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
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|Distributor||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
“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.
PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5