Review: 'The War With Grandpa' should have thrown up white flag

Groaner comedy an embarrassment for all involved

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

The soul-sucking "The War With Grandpa" is a movie for no one beyond the second grade, a tired family comedy that takes the talents of Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman and Christopher Walken and flushes them down the toilet. 

It's a movie that thinks prank wars are the height of hilarity, so much so that its entire plot is based around one. Toothpaste in the Oreos? Check. The old hot sauce in the coffee trick? Double check. It's like it was cobbled together on the playground by a group of 8-year-olds living out the fantasies they learned about from cartoons. 

Oakes Fegley and Robert De Niro in "The War With Grandpa."

De Niro plays Ed, an aging widower who is sent to live with his daughter's (Thurman) family and takes the bedroom of his sixth grade grandson Peter (Oakes Fegley), sending Pete upstairs to the attic. This leads, you see, to a war with grandpa, and the two ceaselessly prank each other in the name of, um, plot advancement? 

Peter has a handful of friends at school who are totally invested in this prank war with gramps, just like all sixth-graders are super into in their friends' relationships with their grandparents. And Ed has a couple of friends — Jerry (Walken) and Danny (Cheech Marin) — who join Ed in sparring with his grandson, culminating in a groan-inducing game of dodgeball at the local trampoline park. 

If you had "grandpa drops his pants twice to his daughter's husband" on your "War With Grandpa" bingo card, you're in luck. All of this is presumably funny to someone — again, maybe second-graders? — but mostly "The War With Grandpa" shows the lame state of the family comedy, or at least the lame state of the family comedy 2 1/2 years ago when it was originally scheduled to be released. For what it's worth, it should have stayed buried.

'The War With Grandpa'


Rated PG: for rude humor, language, and some thematic elements

Running time: 94 minutes

In theaters Friday