Parental Guidance Blu-ray Review
There are the grandparents who you trust your kids with, who feed them proper meals and make sure they’re the covers at bedtime. And then there are the grandparents who insist your kids call them by their given name, promise them sugar sandwiches and let them watch any movie they want. (SAW? Sure!)
That’s Artie (Billy Crystal) and Diane (Bette Midler, who not only squeezes in a song but hops on a stripper pole in the first ten minutes) Decker. They’re not Alice (Marisa Tomei) and Phil’s (Tom Everett Scott) first choice to babysit their three children, but Phil’s parents are on a cruise and so the kids—Harper (Bailee Madison, JUST GO WITH IT), Turner (Joshua Rush, NBC’s HEROES) and Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf, in his debut)—are put into the care of her father and mother, “a tornado with lipstick.” To no one’s surprise, helicopter mom Alice decides to stick around the house while Phil goes on his business trip. From there, it’s a clash of parenting techniques, with Artie and Diane promoting a relaxed environment and Alice a taut, gluten-free childhood. You can see where this movie is going.
Directed by Andy Fickman (2010’s YOU AGAIN and 2007’s THE GAME PLAN), PARENTAL GUIDANCE has no interest in giving insight into parenting or parent/child relationships. It thinks it does (namely in the final act), but really it’s concerned with the predictable. You can bet that if cake is a no-no in the Decker household, it’ll be devoured by the kids and thrown in Alice’s face and around the kitchen. From there, the youngest boy calls Artie “Farty” and uses a Super Soaker to make it look like he wet his pants, an image Fox felt the need to put on the back cover art of the DVD and Blu-ray. Later, Billy Crystal gets hit in the crotch with a baseball bat at a little league game, the gang disrupts a Tchaikovsky symphony and Barker urinates on a half-pipe, nearly causing Tony Hawk to break his neck.
PARENTAL GUIDANCE is brimming with this sort of humor. The script, written by Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse (Sony Pictures Animation’s SURF’S UP), is at its worst not when the jokes and scenarios are expected, but when they don’t even make sense. Take, for example, the scene where Artie is fired for his lack of familiarity with social media (“Tweet? I’ll make any noise you want!”), even though he owns iProducts and so must have some idea what Twitter is. To think that Addario and Syracuse spent more than three seconds coming up with scenes like that and songs that start with, “Come out, come out, Mr. Doodie.”
It’s hard not to hate almost all of the characters. Alice is an uptight mom who’s breeding her kids to be whiny, obsessive-compulsive brats, and Artie and Diane are out of line in telling their daughter how to raise Harper, Turner and Barker. The exception is Phil, who should take his offspring to counseling and send his know-it-all parents-in-law on the next flight back to Fresno.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This Fox Blu-ray offers a clear picture throughout.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English Descriptive Audio 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; French Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English and Spanish. The audio transfer is also fine, with audible dialogue and clean music for the duration. (The beloved classic “Come Out, Mr. Doodie” has never sounded so good.)
Audio commentary with director Andy Fickman and Billy Crystal: Fickman and Crystal give a lighthearted track that touches on various aspects of the production.
FXM Productions Presents: In Character with Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Maris Tomei (4:56): The leads sit down to chat about their characters and the movie.
Deleted Scenes (13:00): There are 15 deleted/extended scenes, with optional commentary by Fickman.
The Gag Reel (12:48) offers a selection of flubs from the cast.
Also included is a DVD/Digital Copy.