Cynical audiences will hate this simplistic, softhearted comedy, but for a bit of undemanding entertainment, it isn't too bad. And while the cast members don't remotely stretch themselves in these roles, they at least manage to get the emotion flowing in the predictable final act. And sometimes a bit of mindless silliness is just what we need.
Crystal and Midler play Artie and Diane, grandparents who have little contact with their uptight daughter Alice (Tomei), who lives on the other side of the country. When she decides to accompany her inventor husband (Scott) to an awards ceremony, she reluctantly agrees to let her parents take care of their three over-protected kids: burgeoning teen daughter Harper (Madison), shy son Turner (Rush) and mop-headed Barker (Breitkopf), a bundle of cheeky energy who immediately renames his granddad "Fartie". Of course, tech-phobic Artie and hug-loving Diane struggle to keep up with these children they barely know, but they're more resilient and far cleverer than Alice gives them credit for.
The script never tries to be sophisticated, announcing its important life lessons early on and never putting any of the characters in danger of not learning something. Meanwhile, the writers continually contrive the plot to keep Tomei on screen as much as possible, even though this kind of undermines the whole point of the grandparents being there in the first place. And every challenge faced by each character (there's a mini-plot for everyone) is fairly easy to navigate. But all of the actors manage to underplay the physical chaos while bringing enough charm to the film to keep us engaged.
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Artie and Diane Decker are the aging parents of a working mother, Alice, whose busy lifestyle means she has to enlist the help of her parents to look after her three young children while she and her husband Phil go away on a business trip. While Diane seems enthusiastic about seeing her grandchildren, Artie is less motivated when he realises that his old fashioned, tough love parenting methods would be lost on the 21st century kids. Alice certainly realises she's got her work cut out trying to teach her stubborn father how to deal with them, remembering the many occasions he let her down when she was a child. Will Artie and Diane's 'second chance' at parenting teach them that their daughter has got the right approach? Or will the venture end in disaster?
This heart-warming comedy is a wonderful story about the unity of family. It is directed by Andy Fickman ('She's the Man', 'The Game Plan') and written by Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse (previously having worked together on 'Lover Girl' and 'Surf's Up') with re-writes from Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (both of 'Tooth Fairy' and 'Robots'). It is set for release in UK cinemas everywhere on December 28th 2012.
Sam chases after Jake, while The Geek chases after Sam. After one school dance, your standard '80s teen party - including requisite shots of piles of junk food and empty beer cans, as well as throngs of kids in brightly colored sweaters dancing badly in somebody's suburban living room - and a late night ride in a Rolls Royce driven by a kid without a license, true love will somehow manage to prevail.
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There's already an Oscars buzz surrounding this movie.