ReviewWriter: Peter ChaiWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Meet The Parents” and “The Parent Trap”
Family-themed comedies have always had a firm position among the variety of movie genres in Hollywood, and till today they still play an important role in bringing families and friends together in the cinema with down-to-earth family related issues in dramatically amusing settings. Veterans Billy Crystal and Bette Midler are making a move on the silver screen again to prove to us that moviegoers will never get tired of American family comedies in "Parental Guidance".
Directed by Andy Fickman, "Parental Guidance" sees Artie Decker (Billy Crystal), a minor-league baseball announcer who is fired from his long-term job, gets a rare chance to spend some time with his grandchildren Harper, Turner and Barker together with his free-spirited wife Diane (Better Midler) in Atlanta after being approached by his daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei) and son-in-law Phil (Tom Everett Scott), who plan to take a one-week getaway. Motivated and persuaded by Diane, Artie puts his old methods of parenting aside, just to please the trio. Unfortunately, bad things happen when Artie verbally hurts Turner, who has been stuttering in his young life and when he brings Barker with him to an audition for a job at ESPN's X-Games event. Meanwhile, Diane tries her best to protect her granddaughter Harper and teach her to be more relaxed in rehearsing for her violin performance, something that goes against Alice's teachings.
For the older generation of comedy fans, Billy Crystal's reappearance as Artie in Fickman's directorial effort brings back fond memories of watching American family comedies. His hilarious facial expressions and amusing dialogue resemble his comedic portrayal of a parent in "Father's Day", with the thoughtful but relaxing charm of his character Harry in "When Harry Met Sally". The comedian still shows that he's got it when it comes to humour, assisted by his illustrations of real-life experiences that are a mix of a traditional mindset and contemporary art of talking.
Pairing evergreen singer-actress Bette Midler with Crystal on big screen can be compared to the duo Robert De Niro and Barbra Streisand in "Meet The Fockers" and "Little Fockers", however, the chemistry between Midler and Crystal as grandparents in this film are much stronger and surprisingly more entertaining to watch. First of all, it is so fun to see Midler's character Diane's successful attempts to tamp her husband's egos as both a father and grandfather. She does not overdo her interactions with Crystal but glides her way to match up the hype set by the latter gracefully. Her unpleasant meeting with Harper's mean violin teacher played by Rhoda Griffis creates a lot of laughter in the middle part of the story.
Furthermore, the onscreen couple adds colours to the comedy when they sing and jazz free-style to the Frank Sinatra-type of classic tunes at the kitchen floor, observed by their modern grandchildren. Their act in that particular scene reminds us of Crystal's hosting style at the Oscars and Midler's performances on stage.
One of the most touching moments in "Parental Guidance" is the scene where Arnie and Diane flock together with the young ones in the house garden, kicking used-tins in the mud under the rain. This plot illustrates the importance of getting kids to find a life away from technology and overprotective parents nowadays, which is a crucial issue that we often neglect in today's society.
For Asians, you might be sighing when you see that the film has a Chinese waiter playing a joker, a so-called procedure of making fun of the Asian culture that has been repeated for more times than you can count in American comedies. Nevertheless, that character does stand out at certain parts of the storyline.
Overall, "Parental Guidance" is suitable for the viewing of all ages and please trust the reviewer that Crystal and his co-stars will definitely make your day for the new year if you are willing to buy a ticket or two for it in the beginning of 2013.Cinema Online, 31 December 2012