Thursday, 27 December 2012

Movie Review: Parental Guidance

I only get to see about three movies a year, so I generally try to save my evening out time for something special.  (This year's must sees were The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.)

I saw the preview for Parental Guidance and it struck me as a good mother-daughter film.  First off, we both love Bette Midler and think she's hilarious.  And Billy Crystal was an excellent foil for her.  (Add Marisa Tomei and I was good to go.)  Besides, it's a little apt since we've undergone (and are undergoing) the tricky shift of power when the title of Mom goes down a generation and the previous Mom gets demoted to Grandma on the power scale.

This was a fun movie.  Predictable but still managing to feel special.  Lots of wonderful little vignettes between the characters.  My favourites were Bette Midler's advice to her daughter (Marisa Tomei) about protecting her relationship with her husband and Billy Crystal's apology to his daughter for not being the dad he'd hoped he would be.  Both really rang true and I suspect the words came from someone's heart.

I was worried before I saw it that it was going to be a story of the grandparents flaunting everything and yet still fixing all the problems of the family.  As a parent who doesn't always agree with the previous generation, I'd have a hard time with that message.  But I was pleased to see Midler and Crystal's characters making a sincere effort to follow their daughter's wishes.  Not always accurately and, since it's a comedy, often with hilarious unintended side effects.  But they were really trying and that meant a lot to me.

I think about the future and my relationships with my boys a lot.  If they're independent (and I hope they will be), I still want to be a part of their lives.  I want to be someone they call to let me know what's going on.  I want to be an interfering and indulgent grandmother.  But most of all, I want them to be happy to see me and spend time with me rather than dreading my arrival.

It's a long time in the future and so I don't worry about it.  But those seeds have to be planted now.  If they don't have fun with me now, there won't be a bond to carry over into adulthood.  I'm sure there will be battles where I'm sure I'm right and they will be frustrated beyond words with me.  With luck, they'll be loud, out in the open battles instead of a long silent cold war.

Maybe it will be another dream I'll have to give up as we move further down the path.  But for now, I'm still hopeful that those moments are waiting in the future for me. 

So, for every parent out there who has desperately tried to convince a grandparent to try it her way and for every grandparent who has rolled their eyes before giving it a go ... go on out and enjoy watching someone else go through it for ninety minutes.

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