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'The War with Grandpa': Movie Review

Movieguide Magazine


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THE WAR WITH GRANDPA is a family comedy about a boy who’s upset about his grandpa taking his room, forcing the boy to move to the attic, which results in a prank war that gets out of hand. THE WAR WITH GRANDPA is very well acted and consistently funny, with several hilarious bits, along with plenty of heartwarming moments celebrating family, but the slapstick comedy includes several light obscenities and profanities.

The comedy opens with 12-year-old Peter and his friends, Steve and Billy, walking into their first day of middle school. As soon as they get through the door, two eighth grade bullies menace Peter. In the next scene, Peter is telling his friends that his grandpa is coming to live with him because he was arrested by the police.

Cut to the scene where Peter’s grandpa, Ed, played by Robert DeNiro, was arrested. The scene opens with Ed in a large supermarket. He’s trying to find his favorite cashier when an overweight employee tells him she’s been let go because the supermarket has gone to all self-help, computerized cash registers. Ed declines any help, but he can’t get his machine to work on some of the items. So, he simply walks off with his groceries, but this sets off the store’s door alarm. Outside, the overweight employee goes after Ed, but Ed shoves him away. The scuffle that follows knocks Ed to the ground, so he hurts his knee. A bunch of other elderly people show up, surrounding the employee, as a police car blasts its siren, and a policeman walks up to stop the melee.

After the police call her, Peter’s mother, Sally, drives two hours to see her father at his house. Sally tells Ed that she can’t drive two hours every time to help him and tells him he needs to come live at her house. He can take Peter’s room, and Peter can move upstairs into the attic. A retired home builder, Ed is reluctant to go, because he built his house for himself and his late wife. However, Sally is adamant.

Needless to say, Peter isn’t happy about giving up his room, and he makes his feeling known to everyone, including his grandpa. I love you, grandpa, he tells Ed, but you took my room.

The next day after Ed moves into Peter’s room, Peter’s friends at school tell him he should fight back. So, that night, after reading the Declaration of Independence in his new attic room, Peter slips a note under Ed’s new door. He announces a state of war exists between him and Ed. He signs it, “Secret Warrior.”

Ed doesn’t take the note seriously. He tries to reason with Peter after Peter wakes him up in the middle of the night with loud music from a cell phone attached to a radio-controlled toy car. This upsets Peter even more, however.

Meanwhile, Ed’s own two friends, played by Christopher Walken and Ceech Marin, advise Ed to fight back. However, he demurs. After all, he is the oldest adult in his daughter and son-in-law’s house.

Peter keeps pressing the issue, however. Ed changes his mind when Peter glues Ed’s favorite glass jar of marbles that he saved every time he built a house when he was working, and the bottle breaks, sending the marbles flying around the room.

Ed calls for a meeting with Peter. If they’re going to have a war, he tells Peter, they have to have some official “rules of engagement.” They agree to two rules. No one else can know about the war, and the other members of Peter and Ed’s family can’t be caught in the crossfire. Peter signs the Rules of Engagement document with his moniker, Secret Warrior, and Ed sings it with his nickname, Senior Warrior.

Let the War with Grandpa begin!

The last two shots in THE WAR WITH GRANDPA are a little anti-climactic. However, the movie is very well acted and consistently funny. There are several hilarious bits, along with many heartwarming moments celebrating family. Despite their war, one day Ed takes his grandson fishing, and Peter has a wonderful time. By the time the dust has settled, and Peter and his grandpa have made up, everyone in the movie is reminded that the minutes you get to spend with your family are very precious. You can never get them back if you lose them by engaging in silly arguments. The movie also has something to say about the costs of war. Eventually, the prank war between Peter and Ed spills over and hurts the rest of the family, including Peter’s little sister, Jenny, who has a charming, cute obsession with Christmas decorations, Christmas music and Santa Claus.

MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for younger children for THE WAR WITH GRANDPA because of the frequent physical, slapstick comedy and several light obscenities and profanities. The movie does contain some verbal, relationship comedy, however, so the physical comedy isn’t overwhelming.

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About The Author

MOVIEGUIDE® was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ted Baehr, past president of the Episcopal Radio & Television Foundation and former director of the Television Center at the City University of New York. MOVIEGUIDE® is affiliated with the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry (CFTVC). Both MOVIEGUIDE® and CFTVC are dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists and by informing and educating the public about the influence of the entertainment media and about how to train their families to become