Parental Guidance stars Billy Crystal as Artie Decker, a small-time professional baseball announcer. He is a nice guy but a bit clueless about what changed in America over the past 25 years. He is fired as the broadcaster for the Fresno Grizzlies and his daughter (Marisa Tomei) asks him and his wife Diane (Bette Midler) to babysit her three kids for five days so that she and her husband (Tom Everett Scott) can go on a vacation getaway.
Artie arrives with sweets as a gift, only to find out that his grandchildren are not allowed to eat sugar. This is the start of his realization that today’s world is different from the one he used to know. It is a world where everybody wins and kids are coddled that one small mistake could destroy their futures.
Harper the daughter (Bailee Madison) plays the violin and a perfectionist. She is diagnosed with high achievement syndrome. Turner (Joshua Rush) stutters and has to attend a speech therapy class that is so progressive that the kids don’t even have to speak.
Grandpa Artie doesn’t believe in the new-age stuff. He feeds them with ice cream, watches Saw with Turner and bribes Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) with money. But the problem with Artie is that he apologizes for his out-of-date point of view. During Turner’s speech class, he reprimands the teacher and then asks for her forgiveness. He mixes up Barker’s food on his plate, which is a no-no because Barker doesn’t want his portions to touch each other. He asks sorry for that too. Then during a baseball game, he protests when he learns that there are no outs or score but that didn’t go anywhere.
Parental Guidance satirizes the overly controlled era where grandfather Artie with his old jokes and carpe diem approach to life is more of a free spirit compared to the kids who view him as a dinosaur. After a while, it seems like the director runs out of jokes.