Story

Dianne (Bette Midler) and Artie (Billy Crystal) have become estranged from their only daughter, Alice (Marissa Tomei), and their three grandchildren, Harper (Bailee Madison), Turner (Joshua Rush) and Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf). Alice and her husband, Phil (Tom Everett Scott), have very different views about parenting from their own parents. In fact, they keep their parents away from their family to stop them having an influence on the children. But a difficult situation comes up when both Alice and Phil must go away for work. Although they don’t want Dianne and Artie to look after their children, Alice and Phil must ask for Dianne and Artie’s help.

Dianne is determined to make a good impression. But Dianne and Artie’s relaxed style of parenting predictably causes chaos.

Themes

Parenting styles; family conflict

Violence

This movie has some violence. For example:

  • Barker gets really angry with Artie for mixing up his food. He calls him evil Artie.
  • Barker pulls his mother and tries to drag her away from the car.
  • Ivan, a school bully, spits on Turner.
  • The children have a fight with ice-cream cake.
  • Ivan hits Artie in the crotch with a baseball bat.
  • Artie vomits over Ivan.
  • A skateboarder crashes on the halfpipe after Barker wees on it.
  • Artie tells Turner to stand up for himself against the school bullies. Turner comes home with a black eye after hitting one of the bullies who then turns on him.
  • Harper has a very demanding violin coach who is quite nasty to her. Dianne threatens the coach with physical violence if she ever talks to Harper like that again.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Barker has an imaginary friend called Carl, a kangaroo. Barker runs onto the road and narrowly misses being hit by a car. But he believes Carl has been hit and is dead. The family go along with this and bury the imaginary Carl in a box in the garden.
  • Artie and Turner are watching Saw on TV and are both scared by something they see on the screen. 

From 5-8

In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example, Artie takes Barker to a public toilet. It’s disgusting and has homeless people living inside. 

From 8-13

Nothing of concern 

Over 13

Nothing of concern 

Sexual references

This movie has some sexual references. For example:

  • Artie comes home to find women learning to pole dance in his lounge room.
  • There is some mild sexual innuendo between Phil and Alice. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Characters drink at various places and at home.
  • Dianne lets it slip to Harper that she used to smoke. 

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern 

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Cheerios and XGames. 

Coarse language

This movie has some coarse language. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Parental Guidance is a family comedy with some crude humour and violence – including bullying – that children might copy. It also shows some careless parenting by the grandparents. It is therefore more suited to older children and adults.

The main messages from this movie are that family is important and you should accept differences of opinion.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the fun and simplicity of childhood. It should be a time when children enjoy simple pleasures rather than learning how to be adults.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues related to Artie and Dianne’s parenting style. For example, they:

  • give the children toy water pistols when their parents don’t let them play with guns
  • let Turner watch an adult movie
  • let Harper dress up like a teenager and put on make-up to go to a party her parents would not have let her go to.

Should Artie and Dianne have shown more respect for their daughter’s values?