Artie (Billy Crystal) and Diane (Bette Midler) realize that they're the "other grandparents"--the ones their three grandkids barely know and dread seeing. So when they have a chance to take care of Harper (Bailee Madison), Turner (Joshua Rush), and Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf), Diane jumps at it, dragging a reluctant Artie along. Naturally, their old-school approach to parenting clashes with the anxious, helicopter-parenting of their daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei) and her husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott). Which will win out? There's really no suspense--contemporary parenting is an easy target and every time Artie complains about how the kids are indulged, random strangers applaud him. However, as Artie's parenting technique yoyos between threats and bribery, movie audiences may find themselves on Alice's side. Parental Guidance is a flimsy movie built around cartoonish kids with cliché problems and jokes about poop and getting hit in the crotch. The plot eventually gets stuck in a mire of nostalgia and vanity (did Midler really have to have a musical number?). But along the way there are moments between kids and grandparents--and between parents and grandparents--that are genuinely sweet. Midler is just coasting through this, but Crystal, who remains a talented and charismatic actor, puts his heart into it.
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