There’s discussion amongst film aficionados that the biggest blunder in the “Dennis the Menace” TV series (and the feature-length film) is that Dennis was old enough to know better.
This is the case with sixth-grader Peter (Oakes Fegley), who used to be close to his Grandpa Jack (Robert De Niro), but when Grandpa moves in with his family after the death of his wife, Peter is forced to give up his most prized possession: his bedroom. Grandpa Jack doesn’t have much going on, so he decides to indulge his bratty 12 year-old grandson in an all-out war between
the two. Winner takes the bedroom.
With big-name actors like Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken and Rob Riggle (yes, he’s a big name), it’s easy to overlook the soul of the movie, Oakes Fegley, who plays Peter with just the right mixture of brattiness and heart. He’s not a bad kid per se, he’s just one who wants his room back – a sentiment plenty of white-privelaged kids in suburban communities can empathize with.
Robert De Niro is back in a “grandpa” role, hoping viewers forget about his role in 2016’s “Dirty Grandpa’, which turned out to be one of the worst reviewed movies of the year. He plays Grandpa Jack pretty straight-forward, and with most of his scenes coming alongside Fegley, this movie plays as some sort of passing-of-the-torch.
It’s also nice to see De Niro and Thurman reunited for the first time since
1993’s ‘Mad Dog and Glory’, and the pair have a few emotional scenes that
make up the best parts of the movie.
The good parts of this movie have a charm that’s based on Peter’s pretty bad decision making. He’s in a situation, analyzes it, and acts in ways only an entitled brat would. Everything Peter does in this movie is almost always wrong. There’s amusement in that, albeit a bit that runs old a bit too quick.
Jane Seymore (Live and Let Die, Wedding Crashers) also makes anappearance here as Robert De Niro’s love interest, proving that no matter how old Robert De Niro is, he’ll alway be fuckable in the eyes of hollywood.
In a grandpa vs grandson family-friendly movie like this, the film’s success is going to come down to two things: Gags and comedy.
The gags in the movie – for lack of better word – made me gag. The film is marketed as a “Dennis the Menace” type of movie, with a kid going up against a Mr.Wilson-like authority figure. Problem is the gags that made‘Dennis the Menace’ amusing are nowhere to be found in ‘War with Grandpa’.
Written and directed by Tim Hill, this movie also falls flat in the comedy department, relying on physical gags that can be found in Adam Sandler’s most eye-rolling movies. This would be forgivable if the characters were given funny one-liners, but no matter how much the actors try, you can’t out-act lazy writing.
‘War with Grandpa’ is a predictable movie with an uninspired story. Although this movie is relatively harmless, it will be forgotten the second the end credits appear. There are a few redeeming qualities, like the performance out of Oakes Fegley and the quality of the supporting cast, but it’s not a movie I would recommend or even watch on VOD.
4.4 out of 10