Old will be new in the upcoming truthful family comedy “Parental Guidance” starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott.
Billy Crystal plays Artie Decker, a well-meaning but rather self-centered man who loves his life and his wife Diane (Bette Midler), but has never bothered to connect with his grandchildren. Time soon came to reconnect when they agreed to babysit their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents (Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott) go away for work. But when 21st century problems collide with Artie and Diane’s old school methods of tough rules, lots of love and old-fashioned games, it’s learning to bend – and not holding your ground – that brings a family together.
“PARENTAL GUIDANCE combines comedy and pathos in the best way,” affirms Billy Crystal, who portrays Artie Decker. “It’s what life is about. This film has something for everyone.”
“The film was my idea,” says Crystal. “I have three grandchildren of my own and another one on the way in March. The two older girls stayed with us for six days while my daughter had her first vacation away. After the sixth day I rested and then walked into the office and said, ‘okay, here’s an idea for a movie. It is a horror story!’”
In the story, Billy Crystal’s Artie and Bette Midler’s Diane are “the other grandparents” to their three grandchildren – meaning their son-in-law’s parents have a much stronger connection with the kids, which Diane envies and has long sought to correct. But Artie and Diane’s infrequent visits to their daughter Alice’s (Marisa Tomei) home have relegated them to second-tier status – along with a few photos of the couple hidden on Alice’s mantelpiece.
“It’s not that Artie and Diane don’t love Alice – who is their only child – and her three kids; they just don’t understand them,” explains Midler. Diane has renewed hope when Alice reluctantly invites her and Artie to babysit the couple’s grandkids while Alice and husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott) enjoy some time away from home. For Alice, her invitation is an act of, well, desperation – her in-laws are unavailable so she must turn to Artie and Diane for help. (Alice’s misgiving even lead to her breaking out in a rash.) But Diane sees it as a golden opportunity: “Grandparenting is a second chance” to be a part of their lives of their grandchildren and Alice – she tells Artie, who is much less enthused about hanging out with the kids he barely knows.
Artie’s mixed feelings about this “second chance” are partly due to his recent professional setbacks. A minor league baseball announcer for over 30 years, Artie has just been fired, losing his dream to work in the major leagues. Still reeling from that disappointment, the last thing he wants is to look after his grandchildren. But Artie will ultimately discover that there’s more to life than announcing ball games. “He’s been fired from a job he loves, but then finds himself kind of falling in love with his grandkids,” says Crystal.
Before getting to that point, Artie undergoes a series of granddad vs. daughter/grandkids comedic misadventures, misunderstandings and mistakes, not to mention daughter Alice’s lack of faith in his ability to stick to her myriad rules and regulations. Says Marisa Tomei: “Artie and Diane are like a ‘club of two’ and haven’t cultivated relationships with their grandchildren. They had a great time living their own lives, but forgot to get to know the kids.”
“Parental Guidance” opens January 16 in theaters nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.