The movie opens with Sandy (Uma Thurman) deciding, after a series of unfortunate events, that her father needs to come live with her family in order to keep an eye on him. At first Peter is as excited as the rest of the family; however, that is short-lived when he finds out that grandpa would be taking his room, and they would be converting the attic into his new room. Instead of being gracious about it, Peter opts to listen to his friends and declare war by beginning a series of pranks that at first goes ignored for the sake of being an adult about the situation, but soon draws his grandfather into the shenanigans.
The only time the storyline became less than enjoyable is when the pranks became more violent meaning more opt to cause injury. Some still might laugh, some might hold their breath afraid grandfather is going to break a hip! Other than that, it is one of those easy to follow stories that it’s best to just sit back, have fun, and try not to think about it too much.
To say this is not Robert De Niro’s usual film is an understatement. It literally has to be his cleanest, most family-friendly project to date. However, due to his tough, mafioso-like character past it just fit! Ed, the grandfather, is a veteran, has seen and done some things, and is not to be trifled with.
Fegley was believable playing opposite De Niro as the young grandson hyper-focused to the point of selfishness over the loss of his room, and succumbing to peer pressure to get it back. Afterall, most adolescents in that age bracket have issues seeing the big picture from time-to-time. This allows for empathy at first as his room is stripped away, and annoyance as his rage is placed on the wrong person since Ed did not even want to move in the first place.
While Ed and Peter were the stars, being the two characters at war, there were several supporting cast worth mentioning. To balance out Peter’s gang of friends instigating the madness, Ed had his own best friends Danny (Cheech Marin) and Jerry (Christopher Walken) talking their friend into meeting each action with an equal or worse reaction becoming somewhat a miniature grandpa mafia. Then you have their lovely friend Diane (Jane Seymour) who was perfectly willing to join in on some of the fun due to her own angst toward her grandchildren among other reasons. All of this coupled with Peter’s parents, played by Uma Thurman and Rob Riggle, lending some laughs as their characters inevitably get caught in the middle, providing another lesson that ‘war’ never just stays with the two offended parties. There is always someone who gets hit in the crossfire.
Let’s take a moment to talk about visuals. For the most part the film setting was set in a nice suburban home like many family movies that have gone before it, and had some scenes in your generic grocery store. The most interesting visual aspect came from the climax of the story which was set in a backyard birthday party with a Christmas theme. Not only was the party set up like a Northpole dreamland, but it made for an epic, creative domino effect as one prank gone horribly wrong just ricocheted throughout the whole scene.
To watch, or not to watch, that is the question. Although The War with Grandpa was entertaining, and had an element of nostalgia due to some on-point generational casting, there was just nothing that stood out about the film as a whole. It felt less of a fun Friday night trip to the movies, and more of a Saturday night rental with the family.