Our Gadi Elkon reviews The War with Grandpa.
Sixth-grader Peter (Oakes Fegley) is pretty much your average kid—he likes gaming, hanging with his friends and his beloved pair of Air Jordans. But when his recently widowed grandfather Ed (Robert De Niro) moves in with Peter’s family, the boy is forced to give up his most prized possession of all, his bedroom. Unwilling to let such an injustice stand, Peter devises a series of increasingly elaborate pranks to drive out the interloper, but Grandpa Ed won’t go without a fight. Soon, the friendly combatants are engaged in an all-out war with side-splitting consequences.
The release of The War with Grandpa has been years in the making. A former property of the Weinstein Company it has had numerous release dates over the last 4 or 5 years. 101 Studios has finally brought for the family film adapted from Robert Kimmel Smith’s children’s book. The real tragedy is that Robert passed away earlier this year and thus slightly clouds the release. Nonetheless Director Tim Hill, nephew of legendary director George Roy Hill, has created a vibrant and fun adaptation. Hill’s long career working in the animated worlds of SpongeBob SquarePants and the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise highlight his ability to carry a family story quite well. Add in a talented team led by DP Greg Gardiner, Editors Peter S. Elliot and Craig Herring and an extensive production team and you a real rival to the amazing cast accompanying Tim’s film. The movie allows the Atlanta film setting to accent nicely especially in a terrific lake scene between De Niro (GrandPa Ed) and Oakes Fegley’s Peter character. Overall the film comes across as well made and hits all the necessary family tropes.
The cast is what should attract audiences and De Niro working off of Fegley is spot-on casting. The wily veteran dives so smoothly into these fun older roles just as easily as his more gangster or dramatic work. Fegley is an obvious teen commodity and a name you’ll see for years. Rob Riggle and Uma Thurman have some fun moments but honestly seem forgotten and the parents roles are thus sadly secondary. The real highlights come from the friends of our two leads. The older gang of Christopher Walken, Cheech Marin and Jane Seymour seem to relish their ridiculous antics as much as the young foursome of Fegley, Juliocesar Chavez (Billy), Isaac Kragten (Steve), and T.J. McGibbon (Emma). Both groups have wonderful exchanges throughout and their ultimate dodge ball battle at the indoor bounce house is a lot of fun. The real scene stealers are Peter’s two sister characters. Laura Marano is the older sis Mia who’s love life is a fun detour for the audience and younger Poppy Gagnon (Jennifer) steals every scene she is in. The acting is a little forced at times when it comes to the more emotional or dramatic moments but overall is well done. The film hits all the comedic elements out of the park.
Timing and Covid-19 may negatively impact the film’s potential. The talented crew, All-Star cast and humorous plot maybe a nice on-demand hit to keep in mind. A film that isn’t a classic but does enough to allow a fun and entertaining distraction from reality.
Directed by: Tim Hill
Written by: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, based on the book by Robert Kimmel Smith
Selig Rating: 3 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.