THE WAR WITH GRANDPA – A Review by Cynthia Flores
This film is based on a children’s book that deals with the anger and frustration that accompanies a child’s inability to control his life. Centering on the fact that he loses his room to his grandfather when he moves in. That central point is in this all-star family film, The War with Grandpa. But it also drives home that war is not fun. As Grandpa Ed (Robert De Niro) tells young Peter (Oakes Fegley), “War wounds. Only fools, generals, and kids think it doesn’t.”
The film opens with Peter and his friends starting 6th grade and being picked on from day one. At the same time, Grandpa is trying to get used to living with his daughter Sally (Uma Thurman) and her family. Only Sally and the youngest child Jennifer (Poppy Gagnon), seem truly happy to have Grandpa around full time. Sally’s husband, Arthur (Rob Riggle), has his own issues with Ed. And teenager Mia (Laura Marano) is too busy with her boyfriend Russell (Colin Ford) to be in the mix.
Spurred on by his friends, Peter decides to stand up for himself and declares war against his Grandpa until he agrees to swap rooms with him. This starts out as pranks but quickly ramps up. Grandpa is spurred on by his friends Jerry (Christopher Walken) and Danny (Cheech Marin) to fight back. Once the rules of engagement are agreed upon, things really heat up. The rest of the film is fun and often silly as the two go all out to win at all costs.
The director, Tim Hill, comes from a long line of family films such as The SpongeBob SquarePants animated films. In this film, he doesn’t go very deep into any real emotional territory. Keeping the whole film skimming along the surface of issues such as losing a spouse, children taking care of their elderly parents, and bullying. Which is a shame considering the powerhouse team of actors he had at his command. Poor Uma Thurman seems wholly wasted in her thankless role as mom. Luckily, Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Cheech Marin, and Jane Seymour all make the most of any scenes they had. In fact, there’s a fun outtakes video during the credits as Laura Marano sings a version of Edwin Starr’s song War that shows how much fun this cast is together.
I give The War with Grandpa a 3.5-star rating because as a family film and for younger kids, it works. However, with such a talented cast, I was just expecting more.
Directed by: Tim Hill
Written by: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, based on the book by Robert Kimmel Smith
Selig Rating: 3.5 Stars
Running Time: 1hr 34min
Wide Release: October 9th
Starring: Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Oakes Fegley
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.