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Movie review: Parental Guidance

Movie review: There are worse ways to spend some time in a movie theater than watching Billy Crystal and Bette Midler in “Parental Guidance.”
BY SANDI DAVIS Modified: December 23, 2012 at 10:52 pm •  Published: December 25, 2012

”Parental Guidance” is a movie you want to like. It has a great cast and a good, if timeworn plot.

Artie Decker (Billy Crystal) is the announcer for the Fresno Grizzlies minor league baseball team. It's his life. He has bobblehead dolls in his image and his face plastered around the ballpark. His spirited wife Diane (Bette Midler) keeps her husband happy and supports him. They are a couple who obviously are in love after decades of marriage.

Artie's world crashes around him when he is fired after the last game of the season. He has no idea what he will do next.

In Atlanta, a house run by a computer runs the lives of the Simmons family. Phil (Tom Everett Scott) has won an award for his design of this computerized house and wants his wife Alice (Marisa Tomei) to come to the award ceremony with him, a week away from their three rambunctious children — daughter and violin phenom Harper (Bailee Madison), and sons Turner, who stutters, and Barker, whose imaginary friend Carl is a kangaroo.

After the usual list of baby sitters fails, Alice must call her parents, Artie and Diane.

They arrive, excited to spend time with their grandchildren, to discover the feeling isn't mutual. They are horrified to discover they are the “Other Grandparents.”

The children have been raised by every modern parenting book in print. They are never told no, they aren't punished and they all eat whatever they want from their limited list of approved foods.

From the moment the parents attempt to leave, things between the children and grandparents start going bad.

Alice stays for an extra day or two and her father discovers she works for ESPN. He is stunned she never told him. She clearly wishes her parents were anywhere but in Atlanta and interferes with anything they try to do.

Barker creates a rude name for his grandfather and sticks with it. Turner ignores him completely.

Harper is drawn to her grandmother and the first bridge is crossed. Artie, though, cannot do anything right with either boy. He insults Turner's speech pathologist and Barker is such a brat the only thing he understands is bribery.

A highlight of the movie the baseball tirade seen in the movie trailers. Turner is on a baseball team in a league where there are no outs, score isn't kept and every game is a tie. Arties violently disagrees with this, as do many of the other parents.

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