‘The War with Grandpa’ Pits Robert De Niro Against His Wily Grandson

Despite being a two-time Oscar winner, Robert De Niro has rarely shied away from an opportunity to take on a variety of projects. The actor, after all, starred in classic movies like Goodfellas and The Deer Hunter but also Little Fockers and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. The War with Grandpa aims to split the difference between his intense and cuddly sides.

Cheech Marin, Robert De Niro, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Walken
Cheech Marin, Robert De Niro, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Walken | 101 Studios

Robert De Niro battles today’s youth in ‘The War with Grandpa’

After losing his wife, Ed (De Niro) — at the behest of his daughter (Uma Thurman) — moves in with her family. But in order to accommodate their new resident, Ed ends up taking over Peter’s (Oakes Fegley, Pete’s Dragon) bedroom. Infuriated at being relegated to the attic, Peter develops a plan to win back his room. And thus The War with Grandpa begins.

As the turf battle escalates, grandfather and grandson attempt to outdo each other in a series of childish pranks. So audiences excited to see De Niro fumble with operating a drone are in for a treat. For younger viewers, The War with Grandpa does possess a certain predictable charm. And De Niro, Thurman, and Rob Riggle totally get the broad humor they’re working with.

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Christopher Walken and the supporting cast don’t get enough

In recent years, director Tim Hill has spent his last several films dealing with CGI critters. Hop, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, and Alvin and the Chipmunks all stay within the same animal hijinks wheelhouse. But The War with Grandpa feels more in line with the “kids versus adults” tone of 2001’s Max Keeble’s Big Move. As such, kids may get a kick out of the movie.

For older viewers, perhaps the most exciting part is the parade of supporting players who get engulfed in the titular conflict. The marketing makes it seem as if Ed’s friends — played by Christopher Walken, Cheech Marin, and Jane Seymour — have substantive roles. But really, their talents are tragically underused. The movie’s far more interested in its pratfalls.

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‘The War with Grandpa’ is now playing in theaters everywhere

Then again, 2020 has been tragically short of new releases. To that end, families looking for a low-risk comedy with a solid message might do well with The War with Grandpa. The movie does try to cram in a few too many subplots and running gags. But overall, it’s a suitable viewing experience with some fun moments and a very tightly wound turn by Thurman.

The War with Grandpa is, of course, one of the only new movies hitting theaters right now. And with talk of another shutdown imminent for movie theaters, families interested in seeing something on the big screen should act fast. The War with Grandpa is currently playing exclusively in theaters.