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When his daughter goes away for work, a grandfather finds himself having to take care of his three grandkids using 21st century methods -- though he soon resorts to an old-school style of parenting.
For more about Parental Guidance and the Parental Guidance Blu-ray release, see Parental Guidance Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on April 1, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Director: Andy Fickman
Writers: Lisa Addario, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
Starring: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Bailee Madison, Tom Everett Scott, Gedde Watanabe
» See full cast & crew
Parental Guidance Blu-ray Review
Go to your room...and watch something besides this movie.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, April 1, 2013
Released in theaters on December 25th, Parental Guidance was poised as last Christmas' go-to we're done opening presents and we're bored family movie, opening alongside the decidedly less kid-friendly Django Unchained. As these sorts of films usually go, it's more bland than bad, the sort of cinematic experience meant to be savored mindlessly after a brain-doping turkey dinner and several slices of pie. So, yeah, if you're planning to watch Parental Guidance on Blu-ray, you might as well go ahead and pre-heat the oven.
Starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler—who play out-of-touch oldsters trying to keep up with their crazy, over-parented grandkids—the film is a pureed blend of embarrassing sight-gags, this is how we raised children in my day squabbles, and oily sentimental pap. It goes down like a white bread and mayonnaise sandwich followed by a glass of warm milk—it's tasteless and substanceless, sure, but it ain't gonna kill you. And it's weird, I know, but some people like mayo and white bread sandwiches. To each his or her own.
Billy Crystal is Artie, the old-fashioned announcer for the minor league Fresno Grizzlies. On the last day of the season, however, his boss cans him for basically being a relic who doesn't get social media, doesn't have apps or a favorite Angry Bird, and doesn't know a tweet from hashtag. His wife, Diane (Bette Midler) thinks he should retire instead of looking for another job, but Artie doesn't want to be dragged around to Costco every day—or whatever retired guys do with their wives—and he still has big dreams of being the voice of the San Francisco Giants.
Meanwhile, their daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei) lives across the country in a "prototype smart-home" developed by her husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott) for his company, R-Life, with HAL9000-style artificial intelligence, automated toasters and coffee makers, the works. You can see where this is going, right? The technology-challenged grandparents are going to come visit and find themselves thoroughly befuddled by the touch-screen tablets and voice-activated software, stuff that's an everyday part of Alice and Phil's hectic, go-go-go lifestyle. But the generational disparities don't end there.
Alice's ideas about parenting—Phil is mainly just along for the ride—are a far cry from her own parents' laissez faire, oh, they'll grow out of it attitude. She's a fierce helicopter mom, making sure her 12-year-old daughter Harper (Bailee Madison) diligently practices the violin, that shy middle kid Turner (Joshua Rush) makes it to speech therapy class for his stutter, and that red-headed tyke Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) is allowed to indulge his imaginary friend fantasies about a kangaroo named Carl. This is the sort of self esteem and wellness-obsessed family where the kids are never given sugar and are told "think about the consequences" instead of a firm "no" when they misbehave.
When R-Life is nominated for a product-of-the-year award, Phil and Alice go out of town to celebrate—it's the first time they've been alone for five years—and reluctantly leave the kids with grandma and pap, whom the carrot-haired Barker soon christens as "Fartie." Subsequently, the anatomical/scatological humor rarely relents. Gramps gets thwacked in the crotch with a baseball bat in one scene and promptly pukes up a chili dog on the face of the offending Little Leaguer. Later, trying to coax the constipated Barker into doing his business in a public restroom, Artie improvises a song that goes, "Come out, come out, Mr. Doody." Oh, and how could I forget Barker pissing off the lip of a half-pipe at the X-Games, causing skateboarding legend Tony Hawk—in the most regrettable cameo of his career—to botch a 900?
The episodic hijinks come one after another—the kids eat ice cream cake for the first time, watch Saw, disrupt a symphony—until the third act, when the film decides to get all weepy on us, tidily resolving each of the children's various emotional dilemmas and delivering some father/daughter healing for Artie and the frazzled Alice. The hope you have a tissue handy sentimentalism comes out of nowhere and resorts to some cheaply manipulative tricks. I mean, how can you not get a little misty-eyed when a young stutterer gets up in front of a crowd and gives a rousing, perfectly fluid rendition of the radio coverage from the final play of the 1951 Giants/Dodgers pennant playoff? You can bet Artie gets teary too.
The real problem with Parental Guidance is that it's just not funny when it means to be. Billy Crystal and Bette Midler practically jazz-hand through their now-hammy schtick—including a shaky duet of "Who Wrote the Book of Love"—and the kids are the typically precocious movie brats. The strange thing is that even at its most frantic, Parental Guidance feels sluggish. This is family comedy with its belt undone, reclining in a La-Z-Boy and rubbing its stomach.
Parental Guidance Blu-ray, Video Quality
Parental Guidance was filmed predominantly on 35mm, with a few select scenes shot with the Panavision Genesis HD camera and—by the looks of it, though I haven't verified—maybe a GoPro or two during the skateboarding sequence. All this transfers relatively well to Fox's 1080p/AVC Blu-ray encode, which seems true to both the source materials and the film's generic family comedy visual aesthetic. The combination of a chunky film stock and spherical lenses means that grain is quite pronounced, even in brighter scenes, which has the inherent effect of softening the image, leaving facial and clothing textures looking a little muddled. Still, there's plenty of high definition detail here, and the thick grain is far better than the alternative—a picture that's been smeared over with digital noise reduction and then artificially sharpened with edge enhancement. There are a few moments when black levels get the best of shadow detail—see the screenshot of Artie in the public restroom with Barker—but otherwise, contrast is balanced and color is as dense and vivid as it needs to be. I didn't spot any other notable compression or source issues besides some pixilation/jagginess during the few POV skateboard shots. Overall, a suitable but short of impressive high definition picture.
Parental Guidance Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Similarly, Parental Guidance features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that does its job but doesn't particularly exert any special effort, which is fine considering this is a low-key family comedy. The rear speakers are only sparsely utilized for anything other than quiet ambience—light room noise, raining falling, that sort of thing—with only one or two notable cross-channel effects, like the back-to-front plane engine roar near the start of the film. Composer Marc Shaiman—Bette Midler's longtime producer/musical director—pads the onscreen action with a score that cries "light hijinks," and the mix has a great sense of clarity, if lacking in engagement or dynamic breadth. Most importantly, dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. The disc also includes an English descriptive audio track, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs, and optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Parental Guidance Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Parental Guidance Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Think of Parental Guidance as Modern Family: The Movie—same generation gaps, same parenting disputes, same precocious kids—but not nearly as funny or sharp or culturally astute. The fuddy-duddy film sits in that entertainment gray area between "not offensively bad" and "but not really worth watching, either." It also proves definitively that present day Billy Crystal is far better presenting movie awards than appearing in movies themselves. 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray release is nicely put together for this sort of film, but Parental Guidance would make a better Netflix rental than a solid purchase.
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Parental Guidance Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Parental Guidance Blu-ray - January 16, 2013
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed its upcoming combo pack edition of Andy Fickman's comedy Parental Guidance (2012), starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei. The release will be available for purchase on March ...
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