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Andy Fickman
Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott, Bailee Madison, Joshua Rush, Kyle Harrison Breitkopf
Writing Credits:
Lisa Addario, Joe Syracuse

Here come the grandparents. There go the rules.

Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei prove that laughter is relative in this hilarious comedy that's fun for the whole family! Old-school grandparents Artie (Crystal) and Diane (Midler) get more than they bargained for when they get stuck babysitting their type-A daughter's (Tomei) overprotected kids. But things go from hectic to hysterical when Artie realizes the kids are running the house with their newfangled technology. By playing by his own rules, which include sugary snacks, old fashioned games and tough love, Artie manages to outsmart the kids and achieve the impossible - bring the family closer together!

Box Office:
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$14.800 million on 3367 screens.
Domestic Gross
$76.736 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/26/2013

• Audio Commentary with Director Andy Fickman and Actor Billy Crystal
• 15 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Gag Reel
• “In Character with Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei” Featurette
• Trailer and Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Parental Guidance [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 29, 2013)

Neither Bette Midler nor Billy Crystal did much on the big screen over the last decade, but both returned – together! – for 2012’s Parental Guidance. Apparently audiences kinda sorta welcomed them back, as the family comedy earned decent returns at the box office.

I’ve enjoyed Midler and Crystal at times in the past and had hopes they’d combine for a satisfying film. Alas, all hopes were dashed quickly in this dreadful flick.

Phil and Alice Simmons (Tom Everett Scott and Marisa Tomei) live in Atlanta with their three kids: 12-year-old Harper (Bailee Madison), 8-year-old Turner (Joshua Rush) and five-year-old Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf). When they plan a brief trip away from home, they can’t get the usual parties to watch the kids, so they reluctantly ask Alice’s parents Artie and Diane Decker (Crystal and Midler).

Smarting from the recent loss of his long-time job as a minor league baseball announcer, Artie doesn’t want to go from Fresno to Atlanta to do this, but Diane thinks they should spend more time with the grandkids. She wins and they schlep to Georgia. There they encounter a clash between their old school parenting theories and the new age methods favored by Phil and Alice. Hilarity ensues?

No, it doesn’t. Boredom and disgust follow, and there’s not a single laugh to be found in this stinker.

Guidance feels like a throwback film, but not in a good way. It seems like something that could’ve been made 20 to 25 years ago with very few changes. Sure, the nature of the technology shown in the flick would be different, but the jokes and characters would be exactly the same. This is one-dimensional “generation gap” humor at its most basic.

That might not be a bad thing if the movie did anything vaguely original or clever. Unfortunately, it reduces all the characters and situations to simplistic stereotypes and never develops them.

Of course, all of the kids have their problems, and each issue gets neatly resolved by the end. Of course, Artie and Diane learn that they can adapt to the modern methods. Of course, Alice realizes that the old ways aren’t always a bad thing. Hugs for everyone!

Fettered by a tired, stale script, we get tired, stale comedy along with tired, stale sentimentality. For the most part, Guidance splits pretty cleanly between broad comedy and sappy emotions. Most of the first half gives us the gags, and the second concentrates on more touchy-feely material.

I wouldn’t mind if a) the jokes were funny, and/or b) the sentiment felt earned. Did I care about the characters? Not for one moment.

The kids are generally unlikable little annoyances, and none of the adults do much for me, either. With his world turned upside-down after the loss of his job, I should probably feel for Artie, but Crystal does nothing to give him heart or nuance. He's just a flippant joke machine, and Midler’s Diane couldn’t seem to care less about him.

Honestly, those two seem like they’re in different movies. Granted, both offer similar acting styles, as they constantly mug and emote for the camera.

However, there’s no connection between the two of them. If I didn’t know better, I’d think they shot their parts separately on green screen and effects wizards joined their performances via movie magic; there’s zero chemistry between the two leads. (I’m also curious to know what the heck Crystal has stapled to his head; he sports fake hair so bad he now looks like a Chia Pet.)

The kids come across as the worst kind of Hollywood cutie pies. Actually, that’s not entirely fair, as Madison – who was awful in 2011’s Just Go With It - almost sorta kinda tries to give her character some personality, but Rush and Breitkopf feel like showbiz babies without any sense of heart or reality.

I don’t blame the kids for this atrocity, though, as the adults should’ve known better. There’s no story here – it’s a flimsy sitcom premise stretched to 105 minutes – along with no logic and no humor. It starts with broad gags and slowly degenerates into unearned emotion. I wanted to enjoy Parental Guidance but took no pleasure from this dreadful stab at comedy.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Parental Guidance appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a nice visual presentation.

From start to finish, sharpness looked strong. Only the slightest hint of softness affected wide shots, and those examples occurred too infrequently to cause problems. Instead, the film looked concise and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. I also failed to detect any source flaws.

In terms of colors, the movie featured a natural palette that favored a slight golden tone. Across the board, the hues looked positive. They showed nice clarity and breadth and came out well. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows appeared clear and smooth. I thought the movie consistently looked great.

I thought that the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Guidance seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides.

Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement. A few scenes opened up better, though, like at a party or at ballgames. However, most of the movie stayed with limited imaging.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was perfectly fine, as the score and songs showed positive dimensionality. This track was good enough for a “B-“ but didn’t particularly impress.

When we move to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Andy Fickner and actor Billy Crystal. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific take on story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, the project’s development, editorial choices, and some other topics.

I admit I didn’t expect much from this commentary, as I assumed it’d offer a jokey chat without much substance. To a degree, that’s what we get, for Fickner and Crystal keep the piece light. Nonetheless, they manage to tell us a fair amount about the film and keep this reasonably engaging along the way. I wouldn’t call this a great commentary, but it’s enjoyable and better than I anticipated.

15 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 13 minutes. These tend toward extended/alternate versions of existing sequences. A few new gags pop up but little story material appears. We do get a bit more about the reason why Phil and Alice couldn’t get local babysitting, but nothing especially useful comes up here.

We can view the scenes with or without commentary from Fickner. He tells us a little about the sequences and lets us know why he cut most of them. Fickner continues to be engaging and informative.

Next comes a Gag Reel. It goes for 12 minutes, 48 seconds and displays the usual allotment of goofs, giggles and silliness. I can stand about four minutes of that sort of footage; extending the compilation to nearly 13 minutes feels like cruel and unusual punishment.

Finally, a featurette called In Character with Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei occupies four minutes, 56 seconds with notes from Crystal and actors Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei. All three chat together about the story, their characters and various performances. This is a lot of happy talk without much else to it.

The disc opens with ads for Epic, Life of Pi and Chasing Mavericks. These also appear under Sneak Peek along with a promo for Won’t Back Down. We get the trailer for Guidance as well.

A second disc offers a DVD copy/digital copy of the film. It eschews all extras except for some ads.

Lazy and stale, Parental Guidance feels like 1000 other bad comedies. Despite a good cast, it can’t generate any laughs and hits the screen with a giant thud. The Blu-ray delivers excellent visuals as well as reasonably good audio and supplements. I can’t complain about this high-quality release, but the movie itself stinks.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 4
0 3:
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