Released: 12th November
Seen: 7th December
At some point in every prestige actor’s career, you will hear them utter the following phrase… “I did this one for my grandkids”. It’s a phrase that’s almost always followed by a movie that won’t be remembered for long but it’s forgivable because it’s for kids and clearly the actor in question would like something to share with their young relatives. Robert De Niro’s done enough films like The War With Grandpa, he can stop doing them any damn time that he wants!
Ed (Robert De Niro) has hit a crossroads in his life. Still mourning the loss of his wife, he’s finding day to day things a little harder and thus his daughter, Sally (Uma Thurman), demands that he move in with her family. She gives Ed the room on the second floor… the room that once belonged to her son Peter (Oakes Fegley) who is now told that he will be living in the attic.
Because the attic is terrible, with leaks and bats and rats (because no one thought to clean it out and fix it up properly before sending their 10 year old child to sleep up there every night, this is clearly a smart family made of good people) Peter wants his old room back and so he declares war on his grandpa. The two of them engage in a series of elaborate and technically impossible to pull off pranks that get more and more insane until the movie ends and the audience is permitted to run for the exits.
I don’t know who Robert De Niro owes money to for him to feel the need to sign up for films like The War With Grandpa but I propose that we, as a society, start a GoFundMe campaign so we can all pool together and pay off whoever he owes because we can’t let him keep doing this. He can’t keep phoning in performances in subpar family friendly films that tarnish his legacy, which is what The War With Grandpa absolutely is.
The War With Grandpa is a film that you don’t expect people at that level to be making. This also goes for Christopher Walken, Cheech Marin and Uma Thurman who all have to be past this point in their careers. At best the stunningly large amount of great actors makes this film technically watchable… you know, in the way that seeing a bunch of Lamborghinis in the pile would make a car accident watchable, you wonder how something so big, fancy and important ended up on fire with everything else.
The War With Grandpa plays like someone took a pile of papers that had various rejected Home Alone scripts and threw them in a bowl, pulling out individual scenes like they were keys at a swingers’ party and putting the scenes in whatever order they were drawn in. Every single one of these scenes is shockingly unfunny and nonsensical, especially when you know how the laws of physics and comedy are supposed to work.
Now, does this mean the film is devoid of laughs? No, but only because if you show enough footage of an irritating child being wailed on by a senior citizen, it will eventually elicit a laugh through sheer repetition.
It might help that the main kid in this film is, officially, the most irritating and unlikable kid I’ve seen in a movie. This is not a slight on the actor, who seems like a nice kid that I’m sure was just following a script and doing as he was told by the director, but the character of Peter is the kind of kid who you want to drop kick every single time you see him because you know the smarmy little shit has done something to deserve it.
Hell, all of the child actors are given horrible characters to work with, from the friend of Peter’s who actively encourages the stupid war in ways that no child possibly would to the cartoon school bully who follows up every single act of bullying with the phrase “Oops, that happened” because bullies are just catchphrase clowns apparently?
OK, positivity, one should try and be positive even with the worst films… oh god this is hard. OK, there’s a kid character called Steve (Isaac Kragten) who spends the entire film being picked on by his older sister and he’s actually occasionally funny. Like, if the film was about Steve dealing with his sister’s torment then it might actually be a half decent film. Steve is easily the most likeable and well performed character out of the bunch, which is sad considering the calibre of this cast.
Oh, and Jane Seymour plays a woman who works at a store that seemingly has a crush on Ed and that’s kind of fun. Can we have more Jane Seymour in films… good films, specifically.
That’s kind of where I have to end the positives because with the exception of two performances, there’s just nothing to like about The War With Grandpa. The editing is absolutely god awful, the music is so generic that I am stunned that they didn’t just get some royalty free music online and slap it in place and visually everything is just bland enough to pass for an upper tier TV movie. Even though I compare this to Home Alone scraps, that’s unfair on several levels.
- Home Alone had a great soundtrack
- Home Alone had likeable leads
- Home Alone was funny!
The War With Grandpa is bad. It’s an unfunny, poorly written mess of a film that wastes multiple Oscar winning and Oscar nominated actors on bad slapstick. It feels like the kind of film that might be described as a joke about bad family comedies, except it’s real and there is no joke here. Put The War With Grandpa in the crooked aged care home we saw on 60 Minutes because it doesn’t deserve to be allowed out among the adults.