Parental Guidance (U) 104 mins **
This notably unseasonal offering – not a single snowflake, but plenty of schmaltz – is at least partly intended as a comeback vehicle for Billy Crystal and Bette Midler. They’re playing Artie and Diane, old-school technophobes obliged to inhabit daughter Marisa Tomei’s computer-operated eco-house and look after their three grandchildren. One of the kids is heavily constipated; this, you feel, will be coming up again later.
It’s almost endearingly formulaic: ninety minutes in which the adults take repeated blows to the groin, followed by the ritual passing out of hugs and life lessons to a treacly piano score. Endless baseball references won’t help its cause over here, while its touchscreen technology can’t disguise a script apparently rescued from the same Hollywood mothballs the stars have been stored in. Hey, Billy and Bette: 1992 just called, and it wants its third lamest family comedy back.
Parental Guidance opens nationwide from Boxing Day.