The War with Grandpa
Robert De Niro remains oddly engaged throughout most of The War with Grandpa's running time, which makes the film slightly amusing at times, but mostly a test of patience and one's tolerance for pain. War often requires great sacrifice and with that comes great loss. Do yourself a favor and accept defeat on this one.
Tim Hill‘s latest family comedy The War with Grandpa is unlikely going to change your mind about going out to the theaters amongst the global pandemic known as COVID-19, but it does promise light-hearted fun for all ages, capturing a simple story that’s digestible and at the very least, true to its title. The War with Grandpa for most will prove to be a test of patience and bad jokes, but I feel that most families looking for harmless fun will likely enjoy it.
Ed (Robert De Niro) is the titular grandpa in question. He has recently lost his wife, which makes him somewhat of a sad sack that likes to sit around and enjoy his quiet time. Like most elderly people, he resents technology, especially those pesky self-checkout lanes at the local grocery store.
His daughter (Uma Thurman) sparks a genius idea that involves Ed moving in with her family and taking his grandson Peter’s (Oakes Fegley) room, which is less than ideal for Peter.
This creates the “war”, with Peter upset about being forced to live in the attic and Ed simply looking for something to do to pass the time.
The War with Grandpa is based on the book by Robert Kimmel Smith and adapted for the screen by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember, with Tim Hill directing.
Between the source material, the script and the directing — I can say that The War with Grandpa is clearly targeting a certain demographic and it does so with fairly honest intentions. The original trailer had me chuckling, but I mostly knew what I was getting into before watching the film and I can say that it delivers on its basic premise.
It does so in the most predictable and safe way, leveraging its “star-studded” cast in exchange for a script that doesn’t really flesh out anything close to an actual story. The war makes little sense as the stakes aren’t really established, nor are the motives of any of the characters.
In the end, The War with Grandpa takes a puzzling turn into somewhat serious territory for a whole five minutes, while Peter reflects on the idea and notions of war and just how serious and important and usually horrible war is.
It’s a weird shift that goes from zero to one hundred in literally seconds and then the film finishes things off.
There’s not much to say about a film like this and I mean that in the least offensive of ways. This was made for a target audience and I’d be doing nobody any favors ripping it apart or telling you how bad it is.
Did I care for it? Absolutely not. Do I think it kind of stinks, especially given the talent involved? Yeah, sort of.
But I also understand the idea of escapism cinema and the idea of maybe lowering the bar in exchange for a few silly hours that can be spent with the family. I’m never going to suggest this movie to anyone willingly, but I can totally see why people go for these types of films.
I’m sure De Niro got a solid paycheck and hey; the man’s gotta eat just like the rest of us and if he wants to blow off some steam on something like this after giving us The Irishman, then by all means go for it.
The fact that The War with Grandpa could be a deciding factor on if a family wants to go out to the cinema or not alone makes me ease up a bit as theaters are dying across the country and if you feel safe going to one, then take the family and enjoy it.
This time next year we might be begging for anything to come out on the big screen, stinkers and duds included.
The War with Grandpa isn’t for those looking to be challenged mentally or emotionally. It isn’t for those wanting to dive into a film and get lost in its world building. Oh no, The War with Grandpa is for those looking for cheap gags and familiar faces, full of predictable moments that might be exactly what you need during these crazy times and for that I say go out and enjoy!