In the family comedy “Parental Guidance,” Artie Decker (Billy Crystal), who is accustomed to calling the shots, meets his match when he and his eager-to-please wife Diane (Bette Midler) agree to babysit their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents (Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott) go away for work.
Inevitably things go haywire as soon as they arrive. The kids are not happy to see their grandparents, who have a very different approach to parenting and family life from their mother and father.
Artie’s has mixed feelings about this which is 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.
“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.”
Crystal further elaborates on the following q&a the joys of growing up, being a grandparent and producing “Parental Guidance.”
Q: Can you describe Artie and Diane’s marriage?
A: “They are not typical grandparents in that they don’t see the kids a lot and live on the other side of the United States. He and Diane are very devoted to each other; it’s an old-school, traditional kind of relationship in that his wife has supported him throughout the marriage. When our daughter calls and says, ‘I need you to take care of the kids’, Bette says ‘yes’ but I don’t want to go. Bette Midler is fantastic as Diane. We were so privileged that she agreed to play the role with me.”
Q: Artie is a bit old-fashioned in that way?
A: “Artie is not tech savvy at all. He is not kid savvy either and that’s part of the charm of the movie. He tries to find himself again and get out of his malaise about losing his job. He starts to realize that what’s really important is being a loving grandfather and the fact that the kids love him.”
Q: What is your relationship like with your kids now?
A: “We hate each other; we don’t speak! (laughs). No, now it’s even better. It is great seeing the fruits of your labor. The joy I have in watching my daughters with their kids is great, because they’re doing a wonderful job and the kids are fantastic. Recently we were all together in one house for ten days and it was lovely. I think it’s profound to watch the legacy go on. My parents did a good job, we did a good job, they’re doing a good job and that’s all you can ask for.”
Q: It’s still hard to think of you as a grandfather.
A: “It is amazing to me too. But I’ve settled into being a grandfather. I love being around the kids. They’re starting to understand what I do now for a living and they’re starting to see me in movies. They have an entirely different view of me now they know that I act and that I was Mike Wazowski in MONSTERS INC. I had to talk like him for six months. Then they saw THE PRINCESS BRIDE and I had to be Miracle Max (his character from the movie) for six months. And now they get to see me in this film. So it’s a really nice time in my life.”