HE is 62, she is 67 but don’t go writing them off just yet.
Billy Crystal and Bette Midler may be older and tighter-faced (the pair’s penchant for Botox is obvious), but in tandem they would have to be any director’s dream, turning what could have been one of the year’s worst films into one of its surprises.
Family-friendly festive offering Parental Guidance is unapologetically saccharine-sweet, but all is forgiven in the spirit of the holiday season, as Crystal and the Divine Miss M take a mediocre script and ignite the screen with an infectious chemistry.
Artie (Crystal) and Diane (Midler) Decker go about their business in Fresno, California, where Artie works as a minor league baseball announcer for the Fresno Grizzles and still harbours a 35-year dream of calling the game for the Grizzlies’ major league affiliate the San Francisco Giants.
One day, Artie’s fading dream is dealt a crushing blow when he is fired at the end of the season, the boss demanding someone more attuned to younger audiences (the fast-paced exchange between the pair about ‘pokes’, ‘tweets’ and ‘hash-tags’ is a hoot).
Artie’s life gets even more complicated when neurotic, over-bearing daughter Alice (Marisa Tomei) calls on him to look after her three children in Atlanta for a week while she joins husband Phil (Tom Everett Smith) on a business trip.
Feeling like the ‘other’ grandparents, Artie and Diane set out to win over their grandchildren, but they find themselves up against it in a fully automated house in the ultimate collision of different generations and parenting methods.
Crystal and Midler have reportedly built up a great off-screen rapport over 40 years, and it shows.
It also helps that they are true to their characters – both are grandparents and undoubtedly infuse Artie and Diane with their own experiences.
Rather than going through the motions, they seem to have the time of their lives.
It is a joy to watch older actors, with fuel still left in the tank, rather than the next big thing.
PARENTAL GUIDANCE (PG)
Rating: 3½ stars
Directed by: Andy Fickman
Starring: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei
Reviewed by: Emilia Vranjes