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Parental Guidance

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Parental Guidance Movie Poster Image
Predictable family comedy isn't deserving of its stars.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 33 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 48 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's main message is the importance of staying close to your parents, especially when you're an adult with children of your own. The importance and benefits of inter-generational families are stressed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Diane is trying to be a more attentive mother and grandmother, and she does her best to reconcile with her estranged adult child and get to know her grandkids.


A grandfather is struck in the testicles with a baseball bat and then vomits on a kid. A boy hits his bully in the eye and is then struck in response. A famous skateboarder falls on the halfpipe after a boy pees on it.


Mild suggestiveness and a couple of slow dances and kisses between Alice and Phil. There's a running joke that a married couple occasionally role plays being an English punk lover and his girlfriend. Artie and Diane hug.


Insults like "stupid," "poopyhead," "fartie," and other silly names. A fair bit of scatological humor, such as a boy peeing on a halfpipe and an adult getting hit in the testicles and then vomiting on a boy.


ESPN, the X Games, Tony Hawk, Apple products (including MacBooks and iPods), and the San Francisco Giants are all featured in the movie.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink on vacation.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Parental Guidance is a mostly kid-friendly family comedy about the tension between grandparents' old-style parenting and their daughter and son-in-law's Type-A helicopter parenting. There's some rude and scatological humor -- e.g. "poopy head," "fartie Artie," a grandfather being hit in the testicles with a baseball bat, and a man vomiting on a child. A grandfather's suggestion to stick up for yourself leads to his grandson punching his bully and then getting hit in the eye in response. Several brands are mentioned, particularly ESPN, but the product placements aren't generally overwhelming. There's a little drinking by adults, some mild suggestiveness (including references to a couple's romantic role playing), and some kissing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byThe Movie Critic December 31, 2012

Great movie with great meaning

It's the type of movie I like to see with my family beacuse it's not violent,and after the movie is done you feel good that you chose too watch this m... Continue reading
Adult Written bymitmac December 28, 2012

Movie of the Year

My entire family LOVED this movie....the kids laughed and we laughed and cried. So much truth to this movie. "Modern parents" coddle our children to... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bydancer365 December 25, 2012

Great for an older audience.

I did love this movie, but I am after all 14. There was a lot of kissing, and rude humor also once reffering to a girl as really ugly and a man for being blind... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written by18mlove March 20, 2013

Parental Guidance review

If you want a laugh than see this movie. It is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. I loved this movie. Other reviews say it has sex in it, but it do... Continue reading

What's the story?

Artie (Billy Crystal) and Diane (Bette Midler) Decker are slightly estranged from their only child, Alice (Marisa Tomei), who lives across the country with her family. But when Alice and her husband, Phil (Tom Everett Scott), need a babysitter in order to attend a business awards ceremony, they reluctantly turn to her parents. Desperate to see her grandchildren again, Diane convinces a melancholy Artie, who has just lost his job as a minor-league baseball announcer, to be the "A" grandparents for once. After they arrive, the Deckers quickly realize that middle-school music prodigy Harper (Bailee Madison), stuttering wallflower Turner (Joshua Rush), and rambunctious Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) could use a little of their grandparents' more laid-back approach to parenting.

Is it any good?

It's sad to report that the combination of brilliant comedian Crystal and the multi-talented Midler doesn't amount to much in this uninspired, "everything funny is in the trailer" family movie. All of the bats to the crotch and pee jokes only reinforce how lowbrow and predictable the humor is and how much PARENTAL GUIDANCE squanders its leads' stellar talent.

The interactions between Crystal's grumpy grandfather, Midler's overeager grandmother, and their three wacky grandkids are alternately coy and annoying. Even the one song-and-dance number Crystal and Midler break into ("The Book of Love") is too forced and unnecessary to be entertaining. There are a few Crystal-inspired laughs and gags -- one at the expense of skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, who cameos -- but there aren't enough to make you forget how disappointing it is to see such iconic actors in such a blah film.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie portrays different parenting styles. Is it funny to see how the two generations differ? Is it just a generational "thing"? If not, what accounts for the differences? Is one style "right" and the other "wrong"?

  • Can you think of other movies that feature comical relationships between grandparents, adult children, and kids? How does this one compare to those?

  • Who do you think the movie is intended to appeal to most? Why? Does it succeed?

Movie details

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