PARENTAL GUIDANCE

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NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Sam A.

The film opens with the final season game of a minor league baseball game being commentated on by Artie Decker (Billy Crystal). Artie clearly loves his job, and when the game is over, Brad (Justin R. Kennedy), his co commentator, thanks him for the experience Artie has given him throughout the season and presents him with an iPod to show his gratitude. Right after the game, Artie is fired by the GM for what he perceives is Artie's lack of being hip. He tells him that everything is changing and being updated, and since Artie does not Facebook, tweet, hashtag, play Angry Birds, or poke anyone he is a relic. Artie pleads and says he can do all of these things but the GM has made up his mind.

Arriving home, his wife, Dianne (Bette Midler), is hosting a pole dancing class and Artie is greeted by all the women. Diane notices that something is wrong and later consoles him. She tells him that he can teach announcing at the state school, but he says that he feels too young to retire and dreams of finally being the broadcaster for the Giants in the professional league. The scene closes with Dianne telling him that after all these years its unlikely he'll get the job.

The next scene shows Artie and Dianne's daughter, Alice (Marisa Tomei) and her husband Phil (Tom Everett Scott) in an upper middle class home in Atlanta, dealing with their three kids and professional lives. Phil pulls Alice outside for a private conversation to tell her that he's getting a promotion and that his company is flying them out to a summit for a week. Alice is hesitant because her daughter is having an important recital but Phil reassures her that they'll be back in time and that his parents can watch the kids. Turns out that his parents will be on a cruise that week and the only option is to call Artie and Dianne. Alice is reluctant because she feels that her parents are extremely judgemental of their style of parenting. Phil tells her that they need the vacation to get away, and she calls. She nervously asks the two of them on speaker phone, and Artie mouths to Dianne for her to refuse, but Dianne can't contain her excitement and enthusiastically says that they'd love to watch the kids. Alice is shocked. Artie begins to complain after the call is over and Dianne tells him these are the only grandkids they're ever going to have, and they don't see them enough. After a brief argument, Artie concedes.

During a taxi ride to Alice's house after their flight, it becomes clear why there is a strain in their relationship with Alice. Artie believes in an old school approach to raising a family, and feels that Phil is not a real man, quipping that he most likely breastfed the kids. Dianne says its just her generation and that times have changed. At Alice's house, the kids are less than enthusiastic seeing as they don't see their grandparents very often and don't particularly like them. Artie and Dianne arrive, and they uphold a facade of excitement just as Alice and the kids do. It quickly fades as Alice is extremely liberal in her views. For example, after presenting the kids with water guns, Alice says that she doesn't want her kids playing with things that are associated with violence. Artie and Dianne are instantly creeped out by the house which has a command center that announces guests in a robotic voice. Turns out Phil invented it, and the house is a prototype of basically a "smart house." Artie withholds that he is fired and says he still signs off every game with "nights out Alice," which is something that started when she was a kid, and he wasn't home at night to tuck her in. Next, they look at the photographs over the fire place and see that all of the photos are of Phil's parents with the kids. Alice finds one photograph of them as one of the kids runs up to Artie and uses his new water gun to squirt at Artie's pants. While drying his pants, Dianne says that they're the "other grandparents," the ones who aren't loved and don't have their picture on the mantle. Artie says it's Alice's fault and Dianne says she has to focus because her grandchildren have to love her by the end of the trip. Artie asks, "What about me," to which she replies "that's your problem."

At dinner in a vegan Chinese restaurant that night , Artie finds out that Parker (Troy Michael Simeon), the youngest child, has an imaginary Kangaroo friend named Carl. Everyone, including the host at the restaurant, plays along, which irritates Artie. When the kids go to wash their hands, Dianne asks if there are any special instructions they should know. This conversation really gets to Artie. Alice says that they can't talk to the kids like they talked to her. Instead of saying "no," they have to say "consider the consequences." Instead of saying, "don't do that," they have to say "what about this instead." Instead of "quit your whining you're giving me a headache" they have to say "use your words," so, the child feels "that they have value and are heard." When Parker draws in the tiger on the menu, Artie practices by saying that it's beautiful despite the fact that Parker is drawing outside the lines.  When Artie accidentally touches Parker's food he begins a tantrum. Alice uses her bullshit parenting and tells him to use his words. Parker screams "Evil Farty ruined my food" and runs out of the restaurant.

When Alice and Phil are leaving, the children scream and beg for them not to go. They clearly do not like they're grandparents. After they leave, the torture begins. The kids are clearly spoiled, and  while preparing breakfast and lunch for the kids, Artie and Dianne are subjected to their whining about how the cereal can't be "too wet" and complaints along those lines. When it's time to leave for school, Parker insists on wearing high heels. Dianne attempts to use Alice's methods by saying "your opinion has value but wouldn't you be more comfortable in sneakers?" Parker rudely says "No!" Artie attempts to handle the situation by bribing him with $2.50 which effortlessly works. When loading the kids into the car, Alice arrives and tells them there is a work emergency so she'll take a later flight out and meet Phil there. When Artie asks about the emergency, he finds out Alice works for ESPN, which is an opportunity for him to get his dream broadcasting job for the Giants. Artie goes with Alice to drop the kids off at a fancy private school. There, he notices that Turner (Joshua Rush), the middle child who has a stutter, is bullied by bigger kids. Artie attempts to go over and defend him, but Alice stops him and tells him that Turner's therapist says he needs to solve peer confrontations himself. Artie then takes Parker to pre school and struggles to unbuckle him out of the car seat which fails, leading Artie to hand him over to the parking security in his car seat.

Harper, the oldest, is asked by a boy she likes to come to his birthday party Friday night. She tells him that  she has a thing that night. Back at the house, Dianne struggles with the automated programming to wash the dishes. They confess that they feel as though Alice is lying about her work emergency and really came back because she doesn't trust them with the kids. After school, Alice and Dianne go with Harper to buy a dress for her recital while Artie goes with Turner to speech therapy. The therapist senses Artie does not embrace the method, which is for the children to basically walk in circles with their arms spread. Artie says he has some experience in talking as he is a baseball commentator. The therapist obnoxiously points out that it's a little different from a PhD in speech therapy from Yale. Artie points out that in the hour he spent sitting there, he saw the kids do everything but speak, and that he sees no improvement in Turner's speech since he saw him a year ago. Turner hears this and walks away upset. Back at the mall, Alice and Dianne disagree about the dress Harper should wear. In a tender moment, Alice and Dianne recall a dance number they used to do together.

At the house, Artie tries talking to Turner. When Turner does not accept his apology, Artie tries bribing him. Nothing works, so he asks if anything will, and Turner uses the opportunity to watch Saw, something his parents told him that he can't do. After the movie, Artie gives Parker and Turner cake in exchange for their silence about watching Saw, and it appears that a breakthrough is being made. At that moment, the automated house announces the schedule for ESPN announcer auditions. Artie leaves the kids and begins calling the auditions while Alice, Dianne, and Harper arrive home. They see that Turner and Parker demolished the cake and are now on an insane sugar rush. Phil attempts to video chat the house during the fiasco, and the house asks if Artie and Turner would like to continue watching Saw. Later that night, Alice Skypes with Phil and reveals she doesn't plan on going on the flight and will go the next day. Dianne overhears and yells at Artie, saying they're blowing their shot to be close with the kids.

Dianne attends Harper's violin lesson and cheers her on. Harper says she did terribly, and Dianne looks to the teacher for the support. The teacher tells Harper rudely that she under performed and she's not good enough for her audition. Dianne tells the teacher that if she ever talks to her granddaughter like that again she'll have to deal with her. Artie and Alice go to Turner's baseball game. While watching the game, Artie recalls what a good pitcher Alice was and how they would have fun when she would go to the box when he commentated. Turner is pitching to one of the kids that bullies him and he strikes him out. However, the league has a rule that there are no outs, and they keep batting until they hit the ball. Artie confronts the umpire and finds out they don't keep a score, its all just for fun and no competition. The parents start to speak up, with some of them agreeing with Artie, that its ridiculous, and others saying the kids should just have fun. Alice takes the latter approach. Artie tells the bully he's out to which the boy hits Artie in the crotch with the bat. Artie throws up on the kid.

Dianne defends Artie when Alice says its his fault. Just then Alice confronts her mother about threatening the violin teacher. Phil calls Alice and asks when she's coming. However she says she can't go at all because everything is a disaster. Dianne intervenes and says that she is driving Alice to the airport because they were asked to take care of the kids and that's what they're planning on doing. Alice shows up to Phil's hotel room, and he happily embraces her. The next morning, Artie watches a muted baseball game and commentates, sad that he can't achieve his dream. He goes back to sleep and wakes with his face covered in paint. They rush to take the kids to a concert so Harper can prepare for her audition. Parker runs off during the concert, and Artie chases him to the stage. Fed up, Artie raises his hand to spank Parker but stops himself when the entire audience gasps. He yells that he's had it with this style of raising children and that instead of doing everything to protect their self esteem and feelings, they should hear the word no more often. The entire audience applauds his outburst. At dinner, Artie tells the kids that he was never going to spank Parker and was just angry. Later when talking to Turner, he apologizes for embarrassing him at the game and says he can do anything he just needs to defend himself to punks like that bully.

The next day, Artie has to take Parker on a playdate, but that interferes with his plans to go to crash the X games and commentate them. At school, Turner confronts the bully. At the games, Artie makes an awkward impression and doesn't know who Tony Hawk is. While commentating, Parker runs off to the top of the skateboarding ramp and Artie chases him. This results in Tony Hawk falling of his board. Embarrassed, Artie leaves with Parker and tells him that what he id was dangerous. Parker says Carl told him to do it. Artie tells him that Carl can't be a very good friend if he puts him in harms way. Back at home, Dianne confronts Artie and Turner shows up with a black eye. Turner says he hit the bully first, but his little sister helped him. Artie explains that standing up or yourself doesn't mean hitting and tells him that hen he was a kid he was also shy because of his height. Artie tells him how he gained confidence and and realized his dream of becoming a baseball announcer, recalling a monumental game between the Giants and Dodgers in 1951. Turner tells Artie he can still achieve his dream of announcing for the Giants.

Artie wants to teach the kids how to play kick the can outside. Initially hesitant, the kids and Artie and Dianne have a great time bonding. Harper joins them even though she refused at first due to her vigorous violin practice. It begins to rain, and the family creates a dogpile and embrace each other lovingly. Later, Harper tells Dianne that she's decided to relax from the violin practice and wants to go the birthday party. At the airport, Phil and Alice watch an ESPN interview with Tony Hawk where he describes the incident involving Parker and how it cost him the competition. Phil and Alice are visibly horrified. At the house, Artie and Dianne see that a song they used to sing to Alice when she was a toddler is in her top three songs on her playlist and begin to dance as the kids watch. Harper comes downstairs dressed up, and the family tells her that she looks beautiful. Parker starts to freak out because Carl is "bullying" him. Artie tells him that he controls Carl and Parker begins to cry saying that Carl ran away. Parker chases his imaginary friend and is almost hit by a taxi cab. Artie saves him and Parker says that Carl is dead after being hit by the car. Parker screams at Artie and says that Carl is dead thanks to him. The police arrive due to the house sending a distress signal just as Phil and Alice arrive to witness the scene. The kids run to their parents, and when the situation cools down Dianne asks why they're back so soon. Alice says they saw Parker almost get killed at the X games. Artie begins to explain when Alice notices that Harper is dressed up with make up. Harper says she hates the violin and wishes he had another mother. Alice thanks her parents for turning her kids against them.

Dianne is heartbroken and says that it started to feel like they weren't the "other grandparents." Alice sulks and Phil tells her that after all, Parker is the only one who can kill Carl since it was his imagination, and that only happened when thy weren't there to coddle him. Artie comes downstairs to apologize to Alice, and she asks why he was at the X games in the first place. He confesses that it was an audition and that he was fired. Alice is shocked. Artie tells her that Dianne and Harper have developed a very close relationship, and he would hate to see it end because he screwed up. He tells Alice that it hurts that she stopped coming home for holidays and that she's a good mom with great kids. Phil interrupts and says that Harper has a special request for her audition and wants all of them to be there. The next morning, the family "buries" Carl. Artie gives a humorous speech and says that Carl was special because he was a part of Parker and that made him a part of the rest of the family.

At the audition, the first performer is the bully's little sister who gave Turner the black eye. Backstage, while Harper rehearses, Alice reminds her why she loves music and that she wanted her to play violin because the look of fulfillment on Harper's face made her happy. Harper tearfully apologizes for saying she hates her, and they lovingly embrace. The teacher that Dianne threatened announces that Harper has forfeited her audition. Harper tells the rest of the family that she doesn't want to play music anymore. As they're preparing to leave, Turner goes on the stage and begins announcing a baseball game into the microphone. He peaks clearly and without a stutter. The family looks at him extremely proud of his courage. The audience applauds him, and Turner and Artie run to each other and embrace.

Some time has passed, and we see Artie announcing a little league baseball game with Turner, who now speaks clearly. Parker is up, and he hits a home run. The whole family has their picture taken, and the mantle at Alice's home is shown, this time filled with pictures of Artie and Dianne with the kids.

The End


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