Sixth-grader Peter is pretty much your average kid—he likes gaming, hanging with his friends and his beloved pair of Air Jordans. But when his recently widowed grandfather Ed moves in with Peter’s family, the boy is forced to give up his most prized possession of all, his bedroom. Unwilling to let such an injustice stand, Peter devises a series of increasingly elaborate pranks to drive out the interloper, but Grandpa Ed won’t go without a fight.
My expectations were not high for this one – a film shot three years ago that failed to get any kind of release, featuring some high profile names (Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken) and based on a huge-selling children’s book.
I was surprised to find myself smiling throughout, amused both by the pace of the film and its efforts to ensure that every scene had at least one solid laugh. Pitched towards a family audience My War with Grandpa is centred around an average family who invite an older relative to live with them. Due to knee difficulties he cannot easily manage stairs so his grandson is required to give up his bedroom in order for the grandfather to have somewhere to sleep. Banished to an attic bedroom the grandson declares formal war on his senior relative and an amusing battle of wits and practical gags follows.
The cast are very game and embrace the silliness of the ever-escalating war and the story has enough of a touch of realism in its family dynamics to make it very relatable. De Niro is clearly willing to try anything despite his advancing years and he is given good support from contemporaries including a frail looking Walken, an enthusiastic Cheech Marin and the forever upbeat Jane Seymour. Uma Thurman has an amusing subplot as the unknowing middle generation between grandfather and grandchild and faces being the victim of circumstance in increasingly amusing encounters with a local police officer.
Production values are generally high with some ambitious stuntwork and colourful settings. I was surprised thought that the credits for a simple comedy ran more than ten minutes, even with the inclusion of a few outtakes and behind the scenes footage the slow paced credits seem unnecessary.
Overall this was hugely enjoyable and a film I think I will actively revisit until the time when I hopefully become the grumpy grandfather embedded unwanted in his descendant’s household.