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December 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Reviews for Parental Guidance, starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, are somewhat more positive than those for The Guilt Trip, starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, which preceded it by four days. Manohla Dargis in the New York Times observes, “There are smiles and tears, love and affirmations, a few funny jokes and a lot of easy sentimentality.” Early on in his review, Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle describes the movie as “this harmlessly mediocre cross-generational comedy.” But by the conclusion, he’s writing, “The result is the rare film that can be watched by three or four generations at once, with no one feeling particularly alienated.” Rafer Guzmán in Newsday observes, “Though only mildly amusing and slightly insightful, Parental Guidance makes good use of Crystal, 62, and Midler, 67, appealing faces that have been largely absent from the movies of late.” Weslie Morris in the Boston Globe shows sympathy for the filmmakers, and compliments them for making “a bad family movie less terrible.” On the surface, he notes, the film deals with the differing philosophies of parenting that divide the older generation — represented by Midler and Crystal’s characters — and the newer generation, represented by Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott’s characters. Asks Morris, “Do kids want to see a movie about clashing child-rearing philosophies? Whenever an adult spoke to another adult, the kid to my right squirmed and whined and watched me scribble into my notebook. He was about 4 years old. So anytime a cake went flying or a bat landed between someone’s legs or the brat calls Crystal ‘Fartie,’ my restless seatmate went bananas. … These movies are tough to pull off. You want respectability because the idea of a family movie this time of the year has become an ordeal that could tear a family apart. … An adult wants a modicum of decency. Kids want somebody to get hit by flying cake.” But while Sara Stewart in the New York Post argues that the filmmakers don’t succeed in bridging the generational gap and expresses regret that it has arrived “too late for The Post‘s annual Turkey awards,” Carried Rickey in the Philadelphia Inquirer describes it as “an engaging comedy that bridges multiple generation gaps, making it that rare movie that grandparents, their kids, and their kids can enjoy.”