Parental Guidance (2012)

ANDY FICKMAN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  B.5

USA, 2012.  , , , , Dune Entertainment.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Bette Midler and  play a middle-aged couple, she trying to find the fabulous in life post-50 and he dealing with having been fired from his job as a sports announcer at a baseball stadium.  When their estranged daughter (Marisa Tomei) calls and asks them to babysit her children, they jump at the chance to spend time with the grandkids they so rarely get to see.  They discover the gulf between generations as their presumably hands-on, harshly honest style of parenting clashes poorly with the sensitivity and micromanaging supervision of their daughter and son-in-law (played in an aggravating caricature of emotional availability by ).  It’s actually a premise worthy of a comedy, particularly in seeing how Crystal’s easy wit is suspect when seen through the lens of disingenuous political correctness, but the situations it presents are all painfully contrived while the jokes are stale.  At the heart of it is actually a bitter drama about a dark woman who hates her parents, and the film’s blissful lack of awareness of this central problem is only one of the things that makes it so hideously inept.  It’s rare that either Crystal’s perfect timing or Midler’s sensational presence can’t save a movie (not to mention Tomei’s reliable charisma), but there it is, this movie is garbage.

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