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Parental Guidance

29 Jan

Parental Guidance – directed by Andy Fickman. Family Comedy. The grandparents babysit the weekend while the children’s parents travel to Miami, and things become raucous. 104 minutes Color 2012.
★★★★★
Bette Midler is a national treasure.

Is she Yellowstone? Or, I know, she’s Mount Rushmore! (She certainly isn’t Grant’s Tomb.) Would it be too much to say that she is The Smithsonian? Yes, it would.

And Billy Crystal is up there with her. For never have two such big-hearted comedians been so paired so rightly. I hope they make many more films together, for neither one has made many movies, and Our National Health does require that we see them more often. I believe we have constitutional amendment going forward on the matter.

In any case, here they are abetted by the entrancing Marisa Tomei. She’s so good. She’s so appealing. She is never wrong. So you see, we have three reasons to go to this picture.

As a comedy it is made up of the usual clumsy Hollywood plastic. Which means that audience participation in the proceedings is cut off by the failure to admit by the writers that what we are witnessing is not real. The seduction of the unreal is everything. Extreme situations and the implausible are all right, but they don’t, in and of themselves, seduce. Cling-wrap is not a crystal mirror.

Where do we fit in?

I’ll tell you where we fit in: on the only island there is: the persons and playing of Tomei, Crystal, and Midler with all this, their response to it, and their talent with dialogue.

Crystal plays a baseball announcer from a provincial California city who wants to announce for The San Francisco Giants, and his riffs are really wonderful as he does his announcer’s shtick. Tomei is the rather uptight modern mother raising her kids on the strict leash of leashlessness. When the grandparents show up, a conflict of parenting styles arises, and Midler particularly shows a robust leashlessness of a quite different order.

I had a great time with the three of them. I hope you will too. I wish they never part. They could be the Rogers and Astaire of Twenty First Century comedy.

 
 
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