Saturday, 29 December 2012

Review: Parental Guidance

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Parental Guidance poster

Parental Guidance
105 mins / Dir. Andy Fickman

It's that difficult time of year when you're not sure exactly what kind of punter is going to the cinema. Some will be spending cinema vouchers they got for Christmas, others will be getting away from the noise and chaos of their homes, and some will be just killing time while their respective other spends a day at the sales. It's not a time for 'worthy' cinema. Occasionally you'll get a real gem released on Boxing Day, while everything else will seem like filler…

So, if you're expecting a structured, formulaic comedy, which is gentle enough for the whole family to enjoy with enough safe casting to ensure people will take a gamble on seeing it… you won't be surprised when that's what you get. Parental Guidance is so 'safe' it's practically offensive, but without being twee, somehow. Sure, the ending sees an overflow of sentimentality and preaching in equal measure, but I honestly didn't mind as the rest of the film had been so enjoyable.

Yes. I've liked a film with Bette Midler in it. Let's just keep this between you and me, yes?

The saving grace of this hackneyed family comedy is that Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei are all good in it. Way better than the script should allow them to be (Tom Everett Scott is also good, but has very little to actually do). In addition to this, they've managed to find three children (Bailee Madison, Joshua Rush, Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) who are genuinely funny, convincing and not annoying. Right away, this casting lifts the film above what it could easily have been.

At 105 minutes, the final act starts to drag a little, and the whole thing could have been tied up more neatly at an hour and a half. I also thought that a lot of Billy Crystal's lines should have gotten bigger laughs. The delivery is perfect, but I suspect the timing's been lost in the edit.

All in all, I found Parental Guidance to be very enjoyable. Horrendously clichéd and thoroughly undemanding, it's unashamedly filler. It won't advance the careers of any of the adult cast, but is exactly what's needed if you want to get away from it all and smile for a couple of hours.


• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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