• Nate Adams

Review: 2020 continues to punish us thanks to abhorrent 'The War With Grandpa'


Courtesy of 101 Studios

We can’t seem to catch a break in 2020, the year of our lord. 


Not only has a pandemic ravaged our country, we’ve lost countless icons, the upcoming election is in shambles before it even starts, and movie theaters across the country are being faced with their biggest threat: Robert De Niro’s family comedy “The War With Grandpa.” 


You’d think Josh Gad farting dust and chomping through the ground in “Artemis Fowl” would be 2020’s ugliest cinematic moment, but nothing compares to a running gag of De Niro flashing his genitals to on- screen son-in-law, Rob Riggle. Who doesn’t love slapstick comedy? 


Not to be confused with De Niro’s cinematic classic: “Dirty Grandpa,” everything about Tim Hill’s “The War with Grandpa” - based on the popular novel - is like watching a train headed for a cliff. You can’t look away, but you don’t believe you’re actually seeing it (at one point De Niro’s character digs out a ringing phone from inside the casket of a corpse during a funeral). Listen, Mr. De Niro I’m sorry you weren’t nominated for “The Irishman,” please forgive us, I know you didn’t mean to succumb to a new career low, and that perhaps you assumed “Grandpa” was the family friendly vehicle meant to rebrand your image to youngsters. I also understand if you only did this for the paycheck. In fact, I imagine every actor who dared put their name on this dreck cashed an easy paycheck. Hearing the assembly line of names ala Christopher Walken, Cheech Martin, Uma Thurman, and Jane Seymour, one has to assume their agents have mad negotiating skills.  


Either way, the thin narrative focuses on Peter (Oakes Fegley) who is forced to relocate from his primo bedroom after frailing Grandpa Ed (De Niro) moves in. Peter values his space, time, and Air Jordan sneakers, and his parents (Thurman and Riggle) asking him to move into the attic is an insult to his reign. So he commences an all out turf war - complete with signed rules of engagement - against gramps, the logistics of which pave the way for three (yes, three) screenwriters to conjure up fart jokes, and physical gags (mostly people falling and getting hit in the testicales) as the battle for room supremacy wages on. 


Along the way, Ed enlists old war buddies who are now retired (Walken and Martin) to aid in battle, meanwhile the young whippersnapper has entrusted his schoolyard playmates to carry out their own dirty methods of modern warfare. None of it ever rises above immature and crude, with a lack of compassion holding down the film's bottom line. There’s also several subplots happening in the background that don’t make sense or are briefly mentioned. For one, Rob Riggle’s character is an architect with big aspirations, though his one scene on the subject is so awkwardly interjected, you have to wonder why it didn’t end up on the cutting room floor; and Uma Thurman goes full “Kill Bill” on her teenage daughter's boyfriend. Why? Only Jesus can answer that. 


And who could forget the crack about Grandpa Ed’s precious, symbolic jar of marbles getting destroyed so one character can have the punchline: “Grandpa lost his marbles?” 


I weep for humanity. 


“The War with Grandpa” was executive produced by Guy Fieri and 36 other Hollywood executives. You read that correctly: 36 and Guy Fieri. The thought of 37 high profile individuals slapping their name on this is actually quite hilarious. Did they know what they were getting into? Did they hear the name De Niro and say: “Where do I sign?!” Tough to say, but this movie needs to sleep with the fishes.


Grade: F 


THE WAR WITH GRANDPA is now playing in theaters. 


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