FILM: Parental Guidance

Artie Decker, played by Billy Crystal, wrestles with the new responsibility of looking after his grandchildren in Parental Guidance.

Artie Decker, played by Billy Crystal, wrestles with the new responsibility of looking after his grandchildren in Parental Guidance.

First published in What's On

GRANDMOTHER knows best in Parental Guidance, an intergenerational comedy of bad manners and frayed tempers which welcomes Bette Midler back to the big screen after four years.

The Oscar-nominated actress and singer looks resplendent in soft lighting, bridging most of the 19- year age gap to on-screen daughter Marisa Tomei, and belts out an impromptu rendition of The Book Of Love by The Monotones with co-star Billy Crystal.

The film focuses on the central clash between old-fashioned ideals and 21st Century desires.

Artie Decker (Billy Crystal) and wife Diane (Midler) are childhood sweethearts who have been married for more than 40 years.

They are free from the responsibility of raising children: Artie is a baseball commentator for his local team while Diane keeps in shape by pole-dancing with her girlfriends.

Poor Artie is crestfallen when the new owners of the team sack him from the commentary booth to inject fresh blood into the club.

Soon after, the couple’s daughter, Alice (Marisa Tomei), phones to ask Artie and Diane to babysit their three grandchildren – Harper (Bailee Madison), Turner (Joshua Rush) and Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) – while Alice accompanies husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott) on an important business trip.

Diane readily accepts, thrilled at the prospect of spending more time with the little ones, but the grandparents don’t know how to relate to Harper, Turner and Barker, and their modern fads.

In desperation, Artie resorts to old-fashioned parenting techniques to give the kids the support they need, but his heartfelt efforts don’t always reap the intended rewards, including an unfortunate incident with professional skateboarder Tony Hawk on the half-pipe.

Crystal and Midler are a formidable duo and share a pleasing on-screen chemistry.

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