Any movie starring Robert De Niro, arguably our greatest living actor, is worth checking out. Even lighter fare like The War With Grandpa.
In films like Meet The Parents (and its sequels), The Intern and several others, De Niro has shown that he can deliver a deft performance even when he’s not being intense.
The War With Grandpa is family entertainment. Rated PG. No profanity. No nudity. You can take everyone to see this movie. (And you will need to TAKE them because it will be playing, initially at least, in theaters only.) It is silly fun.
Sixth grader Pete (Oakes Fegley) is forced to give up his bedroom and relocate up to the attic when his widower grandfather Ed (De Niro) moves in with the family. Goaded by his schoolmates, the resentful lad declares war on grandpa who fights back. The pair agree to rules of engagement which include no collateral damage. But their back-and-forth mischief involving drones, snakes, hot sauce, a jar of marbles, a remote control car and other forms of aggravation does indeed affect others including mom and dad (Uma Thurman and Rob Riggle).
The cast includes Christopher Walken and Cheech Marin as grandpa’s buds and Jane Seymour as a chum/love interest. Singer-songwriter and Disney Channel star Lara Marano appears as Pete’s older sister.
The family feud leads to a dodge ball battle between Ed and his posse and Pete and his friends. An attempt to patch up differences by going fishing features a low-speed boat chase as the adversaries attempt to elude a game warden. And a Christmas-themed birthday party results in a multitude of unsurprising physical antics.
In any movie that has a child actor in a key role, the question must be asked and answered: Is the kid any good? Yes. Fegley handles his role well and doesn’t overplay as some young actors do.
The comedic De Niro has a different sort of appeal compared to the characters (likeable and otherwise) he has played in films like last year’s The Irishman. But there is real charm and a twinkle in his eyes (along with an occasional smirk).
The War With Grandpa is a bit of fluff. But so is cotton candy and who doesn’t like cotton candy?