Reviews For The Uneasily Quarantined:
The War With Grandpa

Title: The War with Grandpa

Describe This Movie In One Mr. Show with Bob and David Quote:

BOB: Fifty-four percent ... 1982 ... rump roast? It all makes sense! The oldies are not goodies!
Brief Plot Synopsis: The Boomer vs GenZ conflict gets physical.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 1.5 Wolf Men (Mans?) from The Monster Squad out of 5.

Tagline: "All he wanted was his room back."

Better Tagline: "No relation to Dirty Grandpa, more's the pity."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: It's said that getting old is a drag, and that's certainly true for Ed (Robert De Niro), who's struggling with independence following the death of his wife. Daughter Sally (Uma Thurman) and son-in-law Arthur (Rob Riggle) finally convince him to move in with her family, to the consternation of son Peter (Oakes Fegley), who is forced to surrender his room.

"Critical" Analysis: It's become customary to blame COVID-19 for movie delays — just last week it was announced everything from Dune to No Time To Die has been pushed back until at least next year. Some movies, like The Batman, won't see the big screen until 2022.

The War with Grandpa, alas, was the victim of a more ignominious fate: it was produced by the Weinstein Company. As a result, it's been bouncing around since 2017, finally getting released in the middle of a pandemic to limited fanfare. A less cynical person would tell you it's the perfect movie we need in these uncertain times; a heartwarming multi-generational comedy aimed at bringing our increasingly contentious society together.

Yeah, look who you're talking to. The reality is, The War with Grandpa represents perhaps the largest aggregation of actors grimly earning their paychecks since the last one of those Garry Marshall movies named after a holiday.

The movie's billed as a "comedy for the whole family," which assumes most adults are clamoring for De Niro and Riggle (cast wholly against type as a clueless boob) sharing not one but two scenes where the latter reacts convulsively to Grandpa's accidentally exposed penis. No less than a dozen executive producers (including ... Guy Fieri?) thought spicing up Robert Kimmel Smith's award-winning children's book with multiple shots to the groin and Cheech Marin as a horned up elderly dude was a good idea.

One of the themes that screenwriters Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember and director Tim Hill (The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run) preserve from the book is the idea that wars often escalate out of control. Here, it seems, was an opportunity for a thoughtful look at this concept, and you can see De Niro trying in those handful of scenes, but they're mere speed bumps on the way to "pranks" that would most likely kill or maim either Ed or Peter were the normal laws of physics applied.

Instead, we're treated to mind-blowing revelations about how difficult technology and driving are for the elderly, meanwhile a mostly dispassionate De Niro gets to utter lines like, "Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'" with as straight a face as he can muster.

There are a handful of bright spots; Christoper Walken actually seems to be enjoying itself, Thurman is game as always in a pretty thankless role, while Riggle's Arthur is the only character given much of an arc. Jane Seymour playing Ed's sort-of love interest Diane was also a pleasant surprise.

Or maybe her offering to "Irish up" his coffee was a kink I didn't previously know I had.

Could it be both grandfather and grandson being thrust into positions not of their choosing might cause them to find common ground? If that ham-handed Aaron Zigman score is any indication, then yes. Like most conflicts The War with Grandpa leaves behind a lot of scorched (comedic) earth as it delivers its unsubtle and largely unfunny message.

The War with Grandpa is in theaters now.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar