It is less than one week before Christmas and children are all on their long summer holidays. Yet there are only two movies showing in the multiplex cinema that kids can go and see. Go figure! (as they say in the movies). With the weather not being very summery right now we picked one of those two – The War with Grandpa starring Robert De Niro.
Plot – in as much as there is one…
De Niro plays the grandpa who moves in with his daughter’s home and is given his grandson’s bedroom. The sixth grader has to sleep in the attic and is not happy. His dopey mates at school persuade him to declare war on his grandpa. The ultimate goal being to win back his bedroom.
It all starts off a little silly with the kid using his remote controlled car loaded with a loud music playing phone to enter the bedroom and disrupt his grandpa’s sleep. The prank level ramps up rapidly to the point where both could (and in real life would) be seriously hurt. As these films tend to do.
De Niro is not the only big name in the cast. Uma Thurman plays the boys mother (grandpa’s daughter) while another older actor, Christopher Walken, plays one of those characters that they always include in these stories – the old man’s sidekick who gets sucked into the ‘war’ games. Also the lovely Jane Seymour – I always liked here ever since first seeing ‘Live and Let Die’ – plays a minor role and becomes a friend of grandpa’s.
There is no spoiler alert nor is one needed. You can see the ned coming a mile off if you are still paying attention. For me it was enough that my son was content to sit there munching on his popcorn and laughing at all the silly pranks.
Slap-stick humour features a lot in this movie as it does in most of De Niro’s so called “family comedies”. For adults it is weak if not poor. For a seven year old boy however it was funny. That’s the point with these mediocre movies. You have to remember who they are really aimed at. Once you can accept that it is easy enough to sit back and enjoy (although that may be too strong a word in the case ???) the film.
On the five star rating system I would have to give this movie a 2½ out of 5 (at a push). I would not recommend it for adults but then again… My son loved it and gave it a 4, then later changed it to a 5. So as a parent that’s what you really need to consider.
As these type of movies go it was about average and I wouldn’t expect anything more really. Whereas the modern day animated films like Toy Story, The Minions etc. pretty much guarantee enjoyment for all members of the family; this type of “family comedy” is basically sure to disappoint at least some. I think that is just the way it goes.
What’s that famous saying actors have? ‘Never work with animals or children’? Well Robert, you’ve been in the business long enough. You should know better. It’s about time you heeded such advice. No more “family comedies” please.
On a different note….
I used to think De Niro was one of the great actors. Who didn’t? With his rolls in Taxi Driver, The Godfather, Casino, The Deer Hunter, Good Fellas and many more… But since his close association with that well known creepy pervert Harvey Weinstein I have to admit I am no longer a fan. It’s hard not to question De Niro’s credentials now. And by the way this movie was made in 2017 (what?!) by Weinstein’s company; so think about that one.