Don’t fool with the old school

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILMREVIEWS -

PARENTAL GUID­ANCE ★

Di­rected by Andy Fick­man. Star­ring Billy Crys­tal, Bette Mi­dler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott, Bailee Madi­son, Joshua Rush

G cert, gen­eral re­lease, 104 min About half­way through this sur­pris­ingly atro­cious fam­ily com­edy – be hon­est, Bette Mi­dler and Billy Crys­tal sound like a fun com­bi­na­tion – any sense of bal­ance breaks down with a bizarre rant from the veteran male lead.

An­noyed by his grand­son’s poor be­hav­iour at a clas­si­cal con­cert, Mr C up­ends the young man in front of the con­duc­tor’s podium, raises his hand threat­en­ingly and be­gins bel­low­ing about the way kids to­day never get to hear the word “no”.

To that point, Parental Guid­ance ap­pears open to a com­pro­mise be­tween tra­di­tional and mod­ern chil­drea­r­ing prac­tises. In a nod to­wards the im­mea­sur­ably su­pe­rior Un­cle Buck, Marisa Tomei, sum­moned to some con­fer­ence or other, pon­ders ev­ery alternative op­tion be­fore ask­ing mum and dad to mind her three neu­rotic chil­dren for the week. Grand­par­ents of the old­school, they are not at home to the child psy­chi­a­trists, the ban on toy guns and the re­fusal to lay down hard rules.

Ini­tially, Bette and Billy come across as a lit­tle silly and out of touch. But Crys­tal’s even­tual break­down per­mits no fur­ther am­bi­gu­ity: this film is filled with loathing for a per­ceived deca­dence among Amer­i­can par­ents. Quite right too.

Lit­tle dar­ling: Marisa Tomei, Bette Mi­dler, Billy Crys­tal and brat in

This is the only point at which Parental Guid­ance seems even half-alive. The re­main­ing 90 min­utes are taken up with ghastly jokes, point­less filler and nau­se­at­ing wads of sen­ti­men­tal­ity. Ev­ery-

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