For long time I believed that Billy Crystal’s future as a leading actor had come to an end, then I caught wind of Parental Guidance and began to ponder on whether he still had the stuff. The answer is yes, but has this perennial comedy giant’s routine grown cobwebs or can it still draw laughter with the ease of his earlier work?
Artie, a recently retired baseball announcer, travels to his daughters home to take care of their kids while the overly pedantic parent go on a work/vacation trip. Little do the parents know that babysitting has become far more complex due to the invasive home technology system that has been installed in the home, and the rigorous borders set by the parents.
Parental Guidance is what one would expect from a typical family film, it’s sweet, filled with moralistic messages and the occassional gag/fart joke. What makes this different is the inclusion of Billy Crystal, a face unseen for sometime. Thankfully he is still in as good form as ever and adds a significant weight to an otherwise unexciting film. That said, his funny, while certainly there, doesn’t quite entertain me to the degree that it used to – it could be the role or perhaps his style of humour has become a little stale, but there’s no denying that his efforts don’t quite carry the impact that they used to…or maybe it’s because he’s old.
The Bottom Line
It’s great to Billy Crystal back in action, and as one of America’s greatest all-time comedians it should be a treat to watch him at work…strangely enough, it just isn’t – he comes across as that uncle that has a great sense of humour with jokes that are still funny in spite of being retold dozens of times. The story is sweet regardless of how cliche and it serves as another well placed entry in the age old forgettable american family flick genre.