Crystal, Midler As Funny As Ever In Parental Guidance

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Billy Crystal’s latest starring vehicle is everything that many critics have already written and noted of it.  It is schmaltzy.  It is sappy.  And to say that one might feel uncomfortable throughout the course of this nearly two hour movie is an understatement.  But considering the writing that harkens back to Uncle Buck (1989), Cheaper By The Dozen (2003) and even Meet The Parents (2000), the movie still manages to succeed thanks to the chemistry of lead actors Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.  It’s the chemistry between the two that keeps the movie afloat.  The experience of the pair together helps to support the other, thus validating everything going on around them.  Had they been paired with another actor, things might not have gone as well as they did.  Thankfully, viewers don’t have to wonder how the movie would have turned out had the situation been any different.

Both Crystal and Midler show their veteran acting chops, bouncing their comic prowess off of the somewhat younger Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott.  While some of the antics that happen between Diane (Midler), Artie (Crystal) and the kids are somewhat outrageous, there is at least a certain modicum of truth here as to what happens with so many families in similar circumstances.  As children become the adults, a rift of sorts develops between them and their parents because of philosophical differences on raising children and living life in general.  Every parent would love to think that their child(ren) would grow up to live life like them.  But the reality is that parents and their adult children are different from one another.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t both have something to learn from the other even as adults.  That’s the basis of the story.  Both Artie and Alice are stuck in their ways, and neither wants to budge, thus leading to the story that is both comical and heartwarming enough to keep viewers engaged from start to finish, despite the constant uncomfortable feeling some might have from watching the interaction of the movie’s lead cast.

Now that the movie has been release on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack, audiences get even more enjoyment out of it thanks in large part to its audio commentary.  Crystal–who both acted in and produced the movie–joins director Andy Fickman in discussing everything that went into bringing the movie to life.  The movie is more enjoyable in learning that it was lifted almost directly from a personal experience in Crystal’s own life.  There are also little tidbits such as why Crystal chose to have his character wear a certain kind of hat early on in the movie to the storms that would constantly delay the movie and more.  It’s yet more proof of the value of bonus features and audio commentary in a movie’s home release.  it’s one more reason to check out this family friendly comedy at least once.

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