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Monday, October 7, 2013

Parental Guidance

Read my latest movie review on Parental Guidance, an absolutely hilarious movie! At the Movies Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

Fans of Billy Crystal will be delighted with his latest flick, costarring Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei. It truly is one of the best family films I have seen in a very long time! My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it, crying at some parts and howling with laughter at others. Bette Midler, especially, can be outright hilarious without using raunch and gross-out lines. Hopefully, Hollywood’s current A-list comedic actors will follow her lead and try evoking quality humor without venturing into the world of R ratings.

It always saddens me when I see some of my favorite actors getting older and playing the grandfather role. I still remember Crystal from his When Harry Met Sally days, where he was this adorable little man with a head full of curly hair and wit to match. The wit may still be there, but the hair is a little thinner, and I’m not so sure he could still be described as adorable. Bette, on the other hand, looks fabulous, getting more beautiful as she gets older. I’m amazed at how wonderful she looks and how much energy she exudes on screen.

Now for the story—basically it is about a disgruntled daughter (Marisa Tomei) who reluctantly invites her parents (Crystal and Midler) to babysit her three kids while she and her husband take a much-needed vacation. Tomei is a “helicopter parent” who doesn’t believe in meat, sugar, or discipline, whereas her father is “old school” and has no bridle on his tongue or sensitivity toward political correctness. Crystal is one of those dads who has put his dreams and ambitions above everything else, having no idea that he has figuratively missed his daughter’s childhood. He gives a great little speech, telling Tomei how heartbreaking it was for him to discover this truth only after she had already grown up and left home for good, never to return—even for Thanksgiving and Christmas. A message to all of us parents today.

Unfortunately, life lessons are sometimes hard learned, and Crystal’s character is not immune. When the movie opens, his career as the long-time radio voice of a local minor league baseball abruptly ends because of his ineptness when it comes to social media (a hilarious scene). But he is still a man of dreams, harboring a boyhood desire to one day announce for a major league team, like the Dodgers, Giants, or Yankees. Selfishly, he uses Tomei’s connections with ESPN to stage an interview for a position as a halfpipe announcer, which ends terribly (but chocked full of more laughs). When Tomei learns about it on national news, she returns home to discover mayhem abounding. The kids are wired on sugar, her anal-retentive, studious daughter (played by adorable Bailee Madison) has plans to attend her first girl-boy party, and the boys are sporting black eyes, among other things. Tomei and Crystal go head to head on how to parent children—a wonderful combination of tearful emotions and funny lines.

One of our favorite scenes was when Midler gives Tomei some words of wisdom on the importance of spending quality time with her husband. I think so many of us forget that. As our busy schedules fill up with kid-related activities, we sometimes forget to have those date nights and couples vacations that are very important to keeping a marriage thriving. We also enjoyed a wonderful family scene of the grandparents playing “kick the can” with the kids in the backyard, slipping and sliding in the rain and mud. But mostly, we enjoyed seeing reconciliation in a family that had been estranged for far too long. They all loved each other, but a break-down in communication and a culmination of unhealed hurts over the years had kept them apart.

Another message to all of us—don’t let the past rob you of the love and companionship of family and friends. It isn’t worth it. Life is precious, and we shouldn’t waste a single day! Do not be dismayed—the Lord can send His message of love and grace through a funny, secular film starring someone as crazy and zany as Billy Crystal or Bette Midler. I can attest that this movie touched my husband and me in a profound way.

Parental Guidance is definitely a movie to add to the family dvd collection. I’m sure it will see a lot of air time in the Friday family for many years to come. Make sure your give it a look-see and enjoy a great movie experience!

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