Before starting to write this review for Andy Fickman’s Parental Guidance, I realized that this is officially the last movie of 2012 that I will review. There’s a decent chance that it’ll be the last movie of the year I actually have time to watch. These are depressing enough thoughts that, at this point, I don’t even want to write about Parental Guidance beyond lobbing a few four-letter words in its direction and calling it a day.
But, honestly, I can’t do that. After all, I like to pretend to have a modicum of critical integrity (plus, the fine folks at the Xpress probably won’t sign my paycheck). So, let’s talk about Parental Guidance. Maybe someone in their infinite wisdom would not have thought it was such a grand idea to give Billy Crystal a leading role in a film for the first time in a decade. Perhaps that’s a bit too conspiratorial, in which case the idea that there are still Billy Crystal fans out there is to blame. Who knows?
What I do know is that we get Crystal going full-tilt Borscht Belt alongside Bette Midler, who fares better (mostly because she’s not Billy Crystal, a built-in advantage). The movie — which looks like it was made for a buck and a quarter and is held together with scotch tape — is all about parenting. You see, Billy and Bette play a couple of fairly negligent grandparents who are asked by their daughter (Marisa Tomei) to watch their collection of three coddled or eccentric grandchildren for a week. Most of Parental Guidance is a sitcom-ish screed on the goofiness of modern parenting techniques, which are all patently absurd and goosed for maximum cheap laughs. Really, this just serves to show how the grand the good ol’ days were before all this newfangled technology (I have a hunch that the spirit of Andy Rooney was reincarnated to channel this movie). The movie is eye-rollingly mawkish, often corny and occasionally cutesy in between fits of Crystal’s tired schtick and the what may be the worst musical number ever filmed.
Frighteningly, Parental Guidance is not even the worst movie of the year. It is, however, the most blatantly cheap, out-of-touch and uncinematic film of 2012. Because of this, it ends up just being insulting in its lack of effort. Rated PG for some rude humor.
Playing at Carolina Asheville Cinema 14, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher Cinema 7
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