Blu-ray Review: ‘Parental Guidance’

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"Parental Guidance" debuts on a two-disc combo pack consisting of a Blu-ray disc and a DVD. The package houses the film's Blu-ray, DVD, UV digital, and iTunes digital copies, as well as a couple of extras. This 2012 picture directed by Andy Fickman stars Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, and Tom Everett Scott. This comedic tale covers the familiar and expected territory that features the different views on parenting.

This average, by-the-numbers fare follows the antics of a pair of old-school grandparents tasked to take care of their precocious, overprotected, and bratty grandchildren, while the parents are in an important out-of-town trip. As the grandparents continue to adjust their approach to the kids, the more complicated things become. Yet, the whole family learns new things about each other and themselves through both the bonding opportunities and disastrous turn of events they encounter along the way.

Visuals

This generic family comedy simply offers a run-of-the-mill visual aesthetic. The glossy palette mostly promotes natural and pleasing colors with saturation and contrast levels that are very much under control. White and black levels are appropriately balanced. Flesh tones are slightly on the warm side, but they remain lifelike in depiction. Although there are a few weirdly soft shots at unexpected moments, there are no glaring glitches and other serious visual problems to take note of.

Audio

The transfer features a five-channel lossless track, as well as dubbed five-channel options in Spanish and French. This dialogue-driven family flick renders a clearly front-centric sound design, which generally works for the many one-liners and situational gags available throughout its running time. The varying channels host some decent cross-channel and ambient effects, along with a generic musical score, to keep the audio track busy. No pops, hisses, and other aural issues plague the mix.

Supplements

The package is home to a couple of supplements including an audio commentary by director Andy Fickman and actor Billy Crystal, a collection of deleted scenes, a gag reel, the short collective interview with the three leads entitled "FXM Productions Presents: In Character with Bill Crystal, Bette Midler, and Marisa Tomei," and the film's theatrical trailer. Subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.

Final Thoughts

"Parental Guidance" is standard sitcom fare. A bland but serviceable piece for the not so demanding audience, this cinematic offering primarily utilizes a heft dose of wholesome family sentiments, scatological humor, and generation gap farce to please its target market. Its good-natured and play-safe material simply capitalizes on star power, overtly campy gags, and repetitive slapstick treats. Its perfunctory approach to segueing from inoffensive comedy to formulaic drama works for a couple of emotional moments, but it still doesn't create a strong and compelling narrative. At the very least, it finishes up with a heartwarming flourish that tries to offset some of its preposterous story details.

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