Review: The War with Grandpa

If you’re willing to risk your family’s health to see The War with Grandpa hoping for some side-splitting comic relief amidst the pandemic, then sadly, the joke would be on you. At best, The War with Grandpa might serve as a tolerable 90-minute diversion for parents and kids really desperate for a PG-friendly Family Movie Night at the Drive-In. But there’s no way anyone should venture into a theater for this one! The War with Grandpa is a multi-generational dud, a lame paint-by-numbers dysfunctional family comedy based on an award-winning book (by Robert Kimmel Smith) that I can only assume plays better on the written page.

The movie stars Robert De Niro as Ed, a recently-widowed grandfather who reluctantly moves in with his daughter (Uma Thurman), son-in-law (Rob Riggle) and grandkids – two girls and a boy. The boy, Peter (Oakes Fegley, Pete’s Dragon, Wonderstruck, The Goldfinch) is forced to relinquish his room to Grandpa and move into the attic, which (if not for the bat and rat) would seem to be a sixth-grader’s dream accommodation. Peter, however, is not amused. He wants his room back. So he declares war on Grandpa Ed (who probably would rather be in the attic) and the two engage in a series of elaborate pranks that often go awry, underscoring the ultimate points: it’s a fine line between love and war; and war is messy, and has consequences.

The veteran (aka aging) supporting cast includes Christopher Walken, Cheech Marin and Jane Seymour as Grandpa’s platoon, taking on Peter and his pals in such battles as a Dodgeball game featuring the “age-appropriate team” vs “the AARP team”.

The War with Grandpa has a few funny and sweet moments, more than a few predictable ones, and a feeble ending that had me somewhat up in arms. This ‘War’ isn’t hell, but it’s (very) far from comedic heaven.

 

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