Sometimes as a movie critic, you forget that it is okay for a film to be fun.
Somewhere deep down inside your brain you watch a movie and try to analyse and pick apart exactly what the director was trying to achieve with the film. Sometimes there are no hidden meanings nor are there any world changing beliefs that the filmmaker is trying to open the world up to. Sometimes a film is just made to do what films were originally made to do – entertain the audience. That, everybody, is exactly what The War With Grandpa was created to do – entertain not just any audience but entertain the entire family at once.
Now, I could sit here and write an epic review that analysed every aspect of this film from the costuming through to the editing, but I know that when it comes to a fun movie like The War With Grandpa, all you really want to know is whether the film is going to entertain your family or bore them to death. I am more than happy to share that if you like fluffy family films, then you are going to love this one.
The film centres around Peter (Oakes Fegley – Pete’s Dragon), a young boy who thought his biggest problem for the year was going to be the fact that he is now the ‘small fry’ at his school as he rolls into sixth grade. But then his mother (Uma Thurman – Pulp Fiction) drops a bombshell on him that his grandfather Ed (Robert De Niro – Taxi Driver) is going to be moving into their home and taking over Peter’s room. Yes, Peter not only has to give up his room, but he is now going to be living amongst the bats and rats in the attic.
Not to be removed from his domain so easily, Peter alongside his rag-tag mates decide to declare war on Ed, who counter-acts that declaration by forming a team of his own including Jerry (Christopher Walken – The Deer Hunter) and Diane (Jane Seymour – Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman). It is at this point in the film where the true fun begins.
The reason that The War With Grandpa works so well is because the film appeals to the whole family. The screenplay provides plenty of laughs for kids as Pete and his friends devise childish pranks to play on Ed, while the older generation will value a film that takes them down memory lane as they watch screen favourites like Jane Seymour and Cheech Marin (Tin Cup) having a heap of fun with their roles, even when they are asked to do crazy things like have a dodge-ball war while on a trampoline. Yes, seeing older stars like De Niro and Walken tackle roles where they are seen to be having the times of their lives is all part of the fun of this film.
Like all good films in this genre, The War With Grandpa does have a serious side as well. Kids watching the film will see the importance of a family pulling together and learn about the importance of the older generation in their lives. They are both very important lessons for kids to take on board, so the serious side of the film is certainly not wasted.
Of course, most of the interest around this film is going to centre on Robert De Niro. The screen legend has made a name for himself over the past few years in the comedy genre and while some films have been great, some have been really terrible. Here, De Niro cruises through his role, he is obviously having fun and enjoying himself, and if you group this film with The Comeback Trail, then you could say that De Niro’s comedic efforts in 2020 are well and truly on the ‘good’ side of things.
If you are looking to have a fun cinema experience for the whole family then The War With Grandpa is your go to movie. Outrageous and funny, The War With Grandpa will appeal to everyone.