Arts

The War With Grandpa draws battle lines between feuding generations in director Tim Hill's slapdash family comedy

The War With Grandpa: Robert De Niro as Ed Marino, Christopher Walken as Jerry and Cheech Marin as Danny
Damon Smith

THE WAR WITH GRANDPA (PG, 94 mins) Comedy/Drama/Romance. Robert De Niro, Oakes Fegley, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Laura Marano, Poppy Gagnon, Christopher Walken, Cheech Marin, Jane Seymour. Director: Tim Hill.

Released: March 19 (streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime Video)

BATTLE lines are drawn between feuding generations in director Tim Hill's slapdash family-oriented comedy.

Based on Robert Kimmel Smith's children's book, The War With Grandpa contrives a ridiculous conflict between a petulant six grader and the oldest member of the clan, who agree to resolve differences with Home Alone-style booby traps and pranks that predictably spiral out of control.

Tom J Astle and Matt Ember's simplistic script conceals a couple of decent chuckles between swathes of broad slapstick, which includes an airborne Santa Claus and a barely-running gag involving a traffic cop who is repeatedly in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro dusts off his intimidating patriarch from Meet The Fockers and is squandered as the crotchety old coot at the centre of the conflict.

Co-stars Christopher Walken, Cheech Marin and Jane Seymour should feel equally aggrieved, sidelined for long stretches then forced to sacrifice their dignity in a preposterous set-piece game of dodgeball at a trampoline park that will supposedly draw a line under hostilities.

Generous drizzles of sticky sentiment sweeten a predictable second half.

After an unfortunate first date with a self-checkout till at a grocery store, cantankerous widower Ed Marino (De Niro) faces pressure from his daughter Sally (Uma Thurman) to accept he can no longer take care of himself.

She tries to persuade him to move in with her architect husband Arthur (Rob Riggle) and their three children, Peter (Oakes Fegley), Mia (Laura Marano) and Jenny (Poppy Gagnon), but Ed is resistant.

"Fish and relatives stink after three days," he mithers.

Eventually Ed relents and he moves into grandson's Peter's bedroom, which relegates the disgruntled pre-teen to the attic. Peter deeply resents the hasty relocation to "the creepy place full of spiders and mice" and he declares war on his grandfather.

The old man warns Peter about the consequences – "Even if you win, everybody gets hurt" – but the youngster persists and Ed draws up two rules of engagement: no collateral damage to civilians or their property and no telling.

Flanked by good friends Danny (Marin) and Jerry (Walken) and new acquaintance Diane (Seymour), Ed teaches his scheming grandson long overdue lessons in tolerance and understanding.

The War With Grandpa groans and creaks almost as much as Peter's furniture after Ed removes the screws from his desk and bed.

Fegley has natural likeability but he milks only fitful trickles of compassion for a displaced hero, who behaves like a spoilt brat at every turn. Thurman is wasted, like so many of the cast, but gamely flings herself into the melee.

Thankfully it only takes around 90 minutes for director Hill to call a ceasefire.

RATING: 5/10

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