The War With Grandpa Movie Review : A Few Spirited Performances Redeem This Slapstick Family Film
STORY: The War with Grandpa is about the war between grandfather and grandson. Ed is a man who withdraws from everything after his wife’s death. Unable to recover from her mother’s death, her daughter, who doesn’t want her father to live alone, persuades Ed to move in with them. But his arrival causes some changes at home and changes in balances. Peter also suffers from these changes. Although he is very happy with the arrival of his grandfather, giving him his room and moving him to the attic causes their relationship to change. Peter is determined to get his room back no matter what. Making a series of plans with the help of his friends to reclaim his room, Peter starts a war against his grandfather. However, Peter did not fully recognize his grandfather. Ed, who resists all attacks, has no intention of giving up. Who will be the winner of this two-fronted war?
REVIEW: The Deckers are a regular happy American family with a house full of kids. Three to be precise – two daughters and one son. But Sally (Uma Thurman) is also a doting daughter herself, who cannot stand that her father Ed (Robert De Niro) lives alone, wallowing in his loneliness, after her mother’s death. So one fine day, Sally lands up at his house and somehow drags him along to live with them – much to Ed’s resistance. The only problem is that Sally’s young son Peter (Oakes Fegley) has to move out of his room and live in the attic so that the grandpa can be accommodated. After some persuasion from her mother on how one needs to sacrifice for the family, Peter gives up and reluctantly moves out of the room. But soon his friends at school exhort him to get back what is rightfully his. Peter declares a war on his grandpa, who instead of caving in, decides to play along and give it back to his grandson. Now, it’s the secret warrior versus the senior soldier. But make no mistake, even with a full-blown war, there’s no love lost between the two. There’s no place for hatred here. Director Tim Hill and his screenplay writers (Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember) keep it light and fluffy all throughout. Never crossing the line into making this futile war seem anything more than a little kid’s stubbornness. Neither do they make it an overtly emotional tear jerker. Apart from a few homilies about how only fools and generals go to war, the film’s writing is rooted in silly gags. And while there is some fun to be had there, that’s also where the problem lies. A lot of it is just flat out silly and not truly funny to evoke many organic laughs. Barring a few odd LOL moments, there are mostly slapstick scenes where oldies are jumping, falling, flying around or worst still, inadvertently dropping their pants in front of their grown up children. And a lot of it is quite predictable too.
There’s also no dearth of the stereotypes. A school bully, who routinely acts like a jerk, but goes unchecked, until a bunch of old men teach him a lesson…by err literally, throwing him into the garbage bin.
For such a seasoned actress, Uma Thurman comes across as surprisingly hammy with all sorts of loud expressions to portray Sally’s slightly skittish character. And it gets really over-the-top when she gets into the ‘Kill Bill’ mode and attacks her teenage daughter Mia’s (Laura Marano) young friend, thinking that he’s fooling around with her. This even as Mia always assures her, “nothing happened”. It’s also slightly discomforting to see Robert De Niro in such a physically demanding role at this age when he looks vulnerable and fragile. While it did not seem that he enjoyed playing Ed, we can find comfort in the fact that he does give it back quite befittingly to Peter’s childish yet devilish pranks. Thankfully, he gets some much needed support from fellow veterans like Cheech Marin and Jane Seymour. Poppy Gagnon as the little Jennifer is the cutest little surprise package, whose sunshine innocence makes even the most banal scenes sparkle. Rob Riggle is all but wasted.
However, credit where it’s due, Oakes Fegley is indeed the best thing to have happened to this film. The little master does the heavy lifting with ease and lights up this otherwise inane home turf war film. It ends with a hint of a sequel, which is perhaps the only unpredictable part.
Overall, ‘The War with Grandpa’ is no more than a bunch of gags put together in staged set pieces. But thankfully, it never pretends to be more than that either.