Parental Guidance movie poster
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Parental Guidance movie poster

Parental Guidance Movie Review

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The last time Billy Crystal starred in a major live-action movie, the United States had yet to invade Iraq. The Internet bubble had just burst. And the movie in question was the unfortunate sequel Analyze That. Times have changed since then. Comedy has changed. But Billy Crystal hasn't changed, and it shows in his new film Parental Guidance, now on DVD and Blu-ray.

Crystal is the star of two of my favorite comedies - When Harry Met Sally and Forget Paris - and was a staple in the late eighties and early nineties. But now, in the second decade of the 21st century, Crystal's brand of humor seems relegated to another era.

Then again, it could be that Parental Guidance, a PG-rated family movie, is just poorly written.

In fairness, much of the movie is devoted to pointing out how old and out of touch Billy Crystal and his onscreen wife Bette Midler are with the modern world. That should have been a sign right there that Crystal should have stayed well clear of the film; after all, these kinds of movies tend to crop up year after year, always about some fake modern family that likes to avoid conflict, embrace pointless technology and pamper the children that is taught that "old school" ways of dealing with things often are best. Like these other movies, Parental Guidance suffers from stale humor and painfully dull characters.

Also in fairness, Crystal isn't terrible. He manages to get a few zingers past the screenplay gods. The movie itself also isn't disastrous, at least for a family film. While not very funny, Parental Guidance is harmless and well suited for a family with young children.

Unfortunately, I am neither married nor have young children.

Parental Guidance appears hastily done and is too fast-paced for its own good. The unnecessarily silly situations aside, jokes are crammed into the film at every turn with the hope of a few striking gold. The problem is that, likely due to editing, the comedic timing of said jokes are all off; Crystal's humor rarely gets time to breathe, and most of the jokes fall flat.

There are worse comedies in the world, but in its attempts to make fun of how out of touch Billy Crystal is with the world, Parental Guidance establishes that it too is out of touch with what makes people laugh.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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