Crystal and Midler talk about Parental Guidance
December 27, 2012
ARTIE Decker (Crystal) is accustomed to calling the shots. However, he meets his match when he and his eager-to-please wife, Diane (Midler), agree to babysit their three grandchildren when their parents go away for work.
Artie and Diane are seen as ‘the other grandparents’ to their three grandkids – meaning their son-in-law’s parents have a much stronger connection with the kids.
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,” explained Midler.
When the son-in-law’s parents are unavailable for babysitting duties one weekend, Diane sees it as a second chance to be a part of their lives. Artie however has mixed feelings.
“He’s been fired from a job he loves, but then finds himself kind of falling in love with his grandkids,” said Crystal.
But before he gets to that point, Artie undergoes a series of granddad versus daughter/grandchildren comedic mis-adventures, misunderstandings and mistakes, not to mention daughter Alice’s lack of faith in his ability to stick to her myriad rules and regulations.
The idea for Parental Guidance stems from a real-word experience, when Billy Crystal and his wife Janice found themselves watching their first grandchild for a few days while their daughter and son-in-law were away.
“It was a lot of fun but after a few days I was pretty exhausted,” Crystal said. “I staggered into the office and said, ‘I have an idea for my next movie: Two grandparents babysit for the grandchildren while their kids go away.”
Like some of Crystal’s other beloved films, Parental Guidance represents a key moment in his personal and professional life.
“City Slickers (about three middle-aged friends taking a western-themed vacation) was made when I was turning 40 and having a bit of a crisis,” he explained. “Before that, When Harry Met Sally came during my romantic period and that became our romantic movie. And now Parental Guidance is my grandparent movie.”
Crystal was a big motivation for Midler to join the team. The two have been friends for nearly 30 years, but this is their first professional collaboration.
“Billy and I have similar tastes in theatre, movies, music and humour, so it was pretty easy for us to play a married couple,” she said. “We know what each other is going to do, so we mesh in a unique way.”
The penultimate sequence in the film features a cameo by 86-year-old Brooklyn Dodgers pitching ace, Ralph Branca, in a role as a judge at a middle school music audition.
Branca’s appearance will delight savvy baseball fans as they watch an emotional rendering of the famous 1951 baseball radio call of “The Shot Heard Around the World,” in which Branca was a key player.
For longtime baseball fan Crystal, Branca’s appearance was one of many highlights of the film’s production but first and foremost, is his and the entire team’s goal to bring some heartfelt laughs to all audiences, young and older.
“When people leave the theatre after watching the film, I hope they say, ‘I know those people; in fact, that’s us,” he said.
“Parental Guidance is going to mean something different for grandparents, parents and children. I think if you’re doing that, you’re doing something good.”