National Grandparents Day still isn't a huge deal for Americans, but I bet all that will change as the Baby Boomers come into the senior generational roles, and I wouldn't be surprised if the new Boomer-targeted family film Parental Guidance isn't a sign of this. After all, it can't be a total coincidence that the trailer for the movie, which stars sexagenarians Billy Crystal and Bette Midler, has dropped the same weekend as the holiday (this Sunday).
Do these actors even seem old enough to be grandparents? They're only about 17-18 years older than Marisa Tomei, who plays their daughter, though the technicalities aren't what bothers me. I guess I just expect that as "old people," Crystal ought to look more like "Miracle Max" and Midler to look more like a gray-haired "Winnie the Witch." But nobody wants to see a movie with elderly characters, right? Check out the video and all its bat-to-the-crotch hilarity here:
When I think of grandparents in cinema, I picture the cast of Cocoon. In fact, I especially picture Wilfred Brimley (who was only in his early 50s when the the film and its sequel were made) and Maureen Stapleton, the latter particularly because of her part in the little-remembered movie The Electric Grandmother. I also think of Don Corleone collapsing in front of his grandson in The Godfather and Grampa Vanderhof playing harmonica in You Can't Take It with You.
Also the comedic elders in films such as Christmas Vacation, Sixteen Candles and Weird Science. Apparently John Hughes was as great at writing grandmas and grandpas as he was at creating iconic teenagers. But the most memorable grandfathers have to be those played by Peter Falk in The Princess Bride and Jack Albertson in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And the greatest grandmothers for me are those played by Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom and Frances Bay in Happy Gilmore.
I don't see either Crystal or Midler slipping into the ranks with those characters so well, but then I'm at an age where grandparent roles are more like parent roles for me.
What are the greatest grandparent characters in film? Here some responses received so far via Twitter:
Happy Grandparents Day to my Grandad Dick and my Grandma Estelle, as well as in memory of those who've passed on.
Join the next discussion on Twiter by following Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) and Movies.com (@Moviesdotcom).