People may be taking notes for the next April Fool’s Day.

The War With Grandpa 
Stars: Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Oakes Fegley, Cheech Marin, Jane Seymour, Christopher Walken and Laura Marano
Director: Tim Hill
Scriptwriters: Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember, based on Robert Kimmel Smith’s novel “The War With Grandpa”
Composer: Aaron Zigman
Cinematographer: Greg Gardiner
Tri-G Films and 101 Studios
Rating: PG but could have been PG 13 for mock violence
Running Length: 94 Minutes 

With more people moving in together to save expenses, “The War With Grandpa” gives us a story about a grandfather moving in with his daughter and her family. As you can imagine, this is not an easy move, as shown in Robert Kimmel Smith’s book and this screenplay by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember. Who plays the supposedly hapless grandfather, Ed?  None other than Robert De Niro (“The Irishman”), who can do pratfalls and toss a quip with ease. Not only De Niro, but the cast includes Jane Seymour, Cheech Marin, Christopher Walken (steals his scenes) and Rob Riggle.  The “war” concerns possession of a bedroom that had belonged to the grandson, Peter (well played by Oakes Fegley). Military strategists should take note here. 

“The War With Grandpa” begins with Ed having problems living by himself. He is a widower and can’t maneuver a check-out line at a grocery store or drive out of his driveway. Ed’s daughter, Sally (Uma Thurman) decides he should come to live with her family (husband Rob Riggle and three kids), and could have the middle son’s bedroom, while the middle son moves to the attic.  Ah, that is a disastrous decision for a Mom to make and the “war” begins immediately, as Peter strikes first, and then the pranks begin from annoying loud music to marbles on the floor to putting a sealant can where Ed’s shaving cream should be. With all the hi-jinks going on, the audience can sense a serious mode of almost-harm-but-not-quite, that takes us from laughter to this-is-enough.  It is when other people become involved in the melee that the film goes overboard. Not only does Peter have his school friends, but along the way, Ed has his old buddy, Jerry (Walken), another buddy, Danny (Marin) and a lady who likes the idea of revenge, Diane (Jane Seymour.)  People may be taking notes for the next April Fool’s Day. 

This film has humor, some light-hearted (the usual joke about owning a Flip Phone) and some serious, such as putting something in one’s coffee cup. The film exists from prank to prank and though it is amusing to try to guess what Ed or Peter will try next, it also gets bland, and a Robert De Niro film should not be bland. There is a plethora of acting talent in this movie, but it is not utilized. We have a showcase of new, young talent, and look for them in future films. As for the major names, this must have been a fun film to do especially in the scene where the school-age kids form a team against the adults. Clocking in at a little over 90 minutes, this film could have been a made-for-television film. 


Copyright 2020 Marie Asner