Grandpa Ed (Robert De Niro) is forced to move in with his loving daughter Sally (Uma Thurman) and her family when they realize Ed can’t live on his own. Ed is given Sally’s 6th grade son Peter’s (Oakes Fegley) room, while Peter is shifted into the bat and rodent-ridden attic.
It’s not long before Peter’s school mates convince him to declare war to preserve his inalienable rights – War on Grandpa.
When Ed is issued the declaration, he doesn’t take it seriously, but soon this one-sided war escalates to the point where Ed can’t ignore it any longer.
As these two determined warriors square off, they soon realize that no one really wins a war – you simply lose less.
I’ll admit, I try to pride myself in keeping an open mind when reviewing a film, but I couldn’t help but wonder why this skilled cast would embark upon an obviously slapstick comedy usually relegated to, well, actors like Rob Riggle (who plays Peter’s father in the film).
I like Rob Riggle and enjoy much of his work, his comedy timing is wonderful, but let’s be honest, he doesn’t act in emotionally complex nor culturally stirring films. Yet, Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro have and do elevate their cinematic game – Were they blackmailed into their roles? Lose a bet? Do a favor for a friend? Then I watched the film and I get it.
“The War With Grandpa” will probably be panned by many critics for its moments of clunky dialogue and simplistic, predictable story.
However, in it’s defense, this film is a family-friendly comedy that’s rated PG – a rarity these days, touting themes of family responsibility, hardwork, mourning and love, all wrapped in a coming-of-age story for Peter.
This talented cast elevates this goofy comedy into a solid holiday film, offering moments of genuine emotion and laughs.
Poppy Gagnon as Peter’s little sister Jennifer steals several scenes and although the predictability is disappointing, the screenwriters keep the adults acting like adults and the kids acting like kids – a distinction that has been muddled in too many movies. This blurring of maturity creates some funny situations, but offers terrible role models for youngsters.
“The War With Grandpa” knows it’s cinematic lane and proudly stays within it, to march forth as a worthy family film for a chilly weekend this Fall.