Originally scheduled to be released in 2018 yet pushed due to obvious complications surrounding The Weinstein Company, The War with Grandpa is something that should’ve stayed on the shelf. As it comes to us now in its “Only in Theatres!” package, it feels almost like a cruel joke. There was a commercial promoting the film recently that had unmasked families joyfully singing the movie’s praises and rejoicing in how great it felt to be back at a theater again. To be completely honest, however, if you are taking your family to watch a movie where Robert De Niro gropes a corpse while Reel 2 Reel’s “I Like to Move It” blasts from his cellphone, you might not only be asking to get COVID… you may deserve it.

The War with Grandpa is one of those family films that classifies itself as such, yet its values are nowhere to be found. Sure, you get a cute and cuddly ending where everything mends itself effortlessly, but the entire film leading up to this unwarranted denouement is classless, immature garbage. Why families would ever want to take their kids to a film this mean-spirited is beyond me.

Even the plot stings with nasty unkindness. A young boy named Peter (Oakes Fegley) is frustrated when his parents (Uma Thurman and Rob Riggle) move his grandfather, Ed (De Niro), into his bedroom, forcing him to relocate to the attic. As a response, Peter slides a handwritten declaration of war underneath the door of his grandfather’s new room, and then unleashes an onslaught of pranks on his grandfather that include nearly breaking his back and harming him in multiple other ways. It’s that Home Alone mentality where people can be seriously hurt without any real consequences, which simply showcases to unassuming children that you can launch an elderly man 50 feet into the sky and have him pummel back into concrete, only to have him raise his hand, chuckle and go, “I’m okay!”

There are multitudes of additional dumb jokes, sight gags and grueling clichés within this movie’s agonizingly prolonged 94 minutes, none of which are worth recollecting because they are unfunny regardless of if they are on screen or in print. At its most engaging, the movie is simply baffling, and you’ll spend much of your time wondering not only what De Niro is doing there, but why another Academy Award winner, Christopher Walken, is also hamming up this shitshow (the film also throws Cheech Marin and Jane Seymour into the friend group as geriatric good measure).

The older, renowned actors occupying this trash fest’s frames are perhaps the only thing that makes it worth it. A sequence where De Niro, Walken, Marin and Seymour faces off against Peter and his friends in a game of trampoline dodgeball is as silly as it sounds, but damn is it a surreal and admittedly enjoyable experience to watch these legends jump up and down and hit stupid kids in the head.

If anything, this is something you should watch out of twisted curiosity and nothing more. For kids, it teaches terrible lessons. For adults, well… they made the film, so consider them the educators.

The War with Grandpa is something that should've stayed on the shelf.
35 %
War Is Hell
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