On one of our recent dates, my 10-year-old daughter and I went to see the movie “Parental Guidance,” which stars Billy Crystal and Bette Midler. A friend had given it rave reviews, so I thought we’d give it a try. I was not disappointed.
The story revolves around Artie, a minor-league baseball broadcaster, and his wife, Diane, an eager grandmother who doesn’t meet her high-control daughter’s standards for proper upbringing. When the daughter, Alice (played by Marissa Tomei), and her husband find themselves in need of a babysitter for a week, she reluctantly calls on her parents.
The resulting antics are pretty hilarious: The kids, who aren’t given sugar by their parents, are given an ice cream cake by their Grandpa, who doesn’t get why such rules are in place, with the expected results. The youngest, Barker, who has an invisible kangaroo friend named Carl, gets into all sorts of situations resulting in many laughs. A confrontation by Artie with the speech teacher for the stuttering Turner and by Diane with the violin teacher for granddaughter, Harper, and the disparity of parenting styles is painfully apparent.
But the hilarity was not what impressed me most about the movie; it was the fact that Artie and Diane are committed to each other after 35 years of marriage. That was refreshing, coming from Hollywood. Diane asserts that she wants to become important in the lives of her grandchildren. She’s asking Artie, who had just been sacked by the baseball team for which he had worked for decades, to be on his best behavior for the week, knowing his antics could get them in hot water with their daughter. Artie tries, he really does, but his innate outspokenness and self-absorption gets him in trouble sometimes.
Like when they take the kids to Turner’s baseball game and learn that they don’t keep score in this league. For a baseball purist like Artie, that’s sheer foolishness. And he makes that clear to the gathered parents around him, many of whom agree.
Confronting Artie’s selfishness one night, Diane says to him, basically, “I’ve supported you for 35 years without complaint (well, with a little complaint), and all I asked of you was this one week to be about the kids. It’s not about you, Artie. It’s not about you.”
One of the sweetest scenes in the film was when Artie comes home from just having lost his job, and Diane tells him that he’s the best baseball announcer in the business and they really messed up when they let him go. Her love and support of him were genuine and she didn’t belittle him or make him feel like a failure.
Besides Artie and Diane’s impromptu song and dance to “Who Wrote the Book of Love” in the middle of the kitchen, the scene that struck me the most was a conversation between Diane and Alice. Alice wants to argue with her mom about something Artie did, but then she says, “No, you’ll just take his side. You always take his side.”
Diane’s answer is poignant: “That’s right, and you know why? Because when the kids are all grown up, it’s the husband who stays.”
In this kid-centric society we live in, where marriages are a dime a dozen, giving priority to your spouse is not a very popular modus operandi, but oh, how important it is.
Thanks, producer Billy Crystal and the rest of the “Parental Guidance” gang for giving such a positive, funny, tear-inducing picture of what marriage and family is all about: not perfection, but commitment and love.
You can read Plugged In’s review here.
Thankful today for:
841. the ability to sit outside in shorts and a T-shirt on a middle-of-February day
842. able-bodied helpers around the house
843. a late 14th-birthday celebration dinner
845. new pants for $5
846. a hardworking husband
847. Linky parties 🙂
848. the opportunity to post on other peoples blogs
849. guest posts on my blog (hopefully coming soon)
850. God’s provision