‘Parental Guidance': Lump of coal

29 December, 2012 (17:28) | by Kathleen Murphy, Film Reviews | By: Kathleen Murphy

We should have seen it coming. Parental Guidance director Andy Fickman’s previous family farce was “You Again,” which this writer called “totally, inanely, numbingly awful …. From the evidence on-screen, [Fickman’s] directorial skills might serve to mount a mediocre high school play.” Now this hack is back, gifting us with another DOA comedy.

Billy Crystal, Kyle Harrison Breitkopf, Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott in ‘Parental Guidance’

Pity anyone who heads out to take in Guidance, billed as cheery comedy about the clash between old-school and contemporary child rearing, with heartwarming lessons to be learned by three generations of one fractured family. Parents and children blessed with an iota of gray matter or taste will storm the ticket booth to demand refunds. The only people sitting still for this overlong ordeal will be those brainwashed by bad TV sitcoms into yukking on cue at lowbrow comedy and cardboard clowns.

Alice and Phil Simmons (Marisa Tomei, mugging grotesquely, and Tom Everett Scott) are the type of “helicoptering” mommy and daddy who follow a strict program designed to produce perfect children. Off limits are sugar, competitive games, discipline, any kind of unscheduled fun that might derail the kids’ constant grooming for future success. Forget straight talk: Communication is strictly PC, couched in neutered pseudo-therapeutic jargon: “Use your words” instead of getting mad and bashing a bully. Tempted to talk back? “Your opinion has value.” Even the Simmons’ house is programmed to nag like a nanny — courtesy of dad’s prizewinning invention.

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