Review: 'The War With Grandpa' (2020) Dir. Tim Hill
Based on the 1984 novel by Robert Kimmel Smith, this family-friendly comedy finally sees a theatrical release since wrapping in 2017 and proves you are never too old to fight dirty...
Loving father and grand-father Ed (De Niro) is taken out of his old home, due to injuring his leg, by daughter Sally (Thurman) and is given a room in their family house.
But Sally's son Peter (Fegley) has to sacrifice his room and move into the attic. This immediately creates a battle line - Peter wants his room back, and will war with his Grandpa if he doesn't get it back.
With Ed's friend Jerry (Walken) helping take the fight to the grandson, there are no rules and limits as a battle of the generations ensures to see who comes out on top of this family at war...
From maiming gangsters, bad guys and the corrupt, Robert De Niro has since adapted his more mature side in turning more to drama and comedy for his characters. In a role that harkens back to his 'Meet The Parents' days, De Niro is the lovable father and grandfather to all those who play by the rules in his family. But there is always one who poses a challenge - this time it's in the shape of 12 year old Oakes Fegley as grandson Peter.
When De Niro moves in with daughter and son-in-law Uma Thurman and Rob Riggle, it's Fegley who loses out by having to sacrifice his own room for grandpa - and he is ousted to the cold, creaky loft. While not initially as bad as it sounds, Fegley wants what is his by right and will not stop at anything until he gets it. With his time at school already pressured by bullies, Fegley has a quirky bunch of friends to help him on and fight the good fight.
While it's fun and nice seeing the kids get into all sorts of trouble with their gadgets and modern toys, we are here for the elders having fun too with equal frustration.
Christopher Walken and Cheech Marin help De Niro play dirty, and we also have support from a lovely Thurman and Jane Seymour. If you had Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman pop up somewhere, it'd be a hot talent of veteran talent who are simply here for some silly family fun. No crass, no sex, no violence - just silly Jackass-style pranks and underlying heart about what it means to be family and be there for each other. It's got everything from wayward drones causing chaos, shaving foam replaced with quick dry filler and plenty of slips, trips and body-doubles taking the fall for our OAPs.
The bulk of intended comedy comes from De Niro, always channeling his tough-guy persona, this time through a grizzled face and grey hair taking the fight to a child. With no real meat to get stuck into, the novelty wears off quick, but yet somehow he's always entertaining doing what he does best.
Everything can be summed up by a midpoint dodgeball game that will easily make you chuckle; silly physical comedy, all ages involved and Marin trying to catch his false teeth. And not a swear word used throughout. Great fun.
It's not original, and it's not laugh-out-loud funny, but it's harmless family entertainment. There is heart boiling up behind the facade of silly comedy to see how a family can come together, discover relationships and learn from each other during the process.
It has nothing we haven't seen before in these sort of films, and far safer in content than 'Meet The Parents', but it's only 85mins long so doesn't outstay it's family-friendly welcome.
'The War With Grandpa' is a co-production between Marro Films / Sigh Films / West Madison Entertainment / Tri-G Films and Emmett/Furla Oasis