PARENTAL GUIDANCE. I know it’s billed as a family film and I guess the concept lends itself to that market but what modern day family even know or care who Billy Crystal or Bette Midler are? Let alone what kid on this planet would ever be happy to sit through this unless they were dragged along by their grandparents and couldn’t convince them to see WRECK-IT RALPH or DJANGO UNCHAINED? So that bug bear was happily nestled in my mind when I sat down to endure this.
Outside of that, the film itself is pedestrian, the jokes aren’t funny (most of which are given to Billy Crystal – much of the film was shot using improvisation and they’ve pieced together the film from the multiple takes – Crystal came up with the premise which lived at Paramount for a while before they cut it loose and Fox + Walden Media picked it up) and it’s desperately uncool. That’s all the film needs – a huge injection of cool. Something to make it actually funny and relatable to anyone whose not an affluent middle American.
Bette Midler is a magnificent performer – she’s not an actress – and she is completely wasted here. I’ve never seen such a talent look so bored and have nothing to do as Midler is in this. Again it’s not her fault, the films focus is so hinged on Crystal (Who, again, has no audience that I can gather) that she’s merely secondary set dressing. Being such a talent that Midler is – you can see why I’ve devoted a paragraph to the inexcusable missed opportunity here. They should’ve dumped Walden Media, slapped an R rating on it and let Midler run wild. This would’ve been absolutely hilarious if a ‘Come here you little b*&^%$d!’ got thrown around.
The plot is well worn, the grandparents looking after the cool modern day kiddies and the culture clash that’s going to bring everyone together, it doesn’t even stray from the path its on and the flick is not inoffensive in anyway – it’s just.. bland. A poster for good Christian values. Directed like an episode of The Cosby Show in 1986.
A perplexed Aza, signing off. (As I write this the film is doing solid business in the U.S. so I guess I have answered my question!)