I would not hold it against anyone at this point in the year to want a little bit of light, distracting, comedic entertainment. Things are rough and sometimes you need something disposable. I wish I could say The War With Grandpa is worth your time even for just 90-minutes of mindlessness. Directed by Tim Hill who is known for Hop and Alvin & the Chipmunks that also feature a lot of pranks. Here we have a bratty kid and an old man, Robert De Niro in a lesser form.
The War with Grandpa has a pretty simple premise. Ed (De Niro) is a grump who can no longer drive safely and wants nothing to do with a nursing home. He takes out his anger on those around him. Left with few choices, he moves in with his concerned daughter Sally (Uma Thurman). In doing so, Sally's son Peter (Oakes Fegley) is forced out of his room and into the attic. Peter decides to start a war after being bullied at school and egged on by his friends. The war could be seen as an interesting outlet for Peter's frustrations with being bullied but the film has little interest in anything but broad humor.
Things start out pretty tame but soon escalate. There are a few funny moments as Peter meets his match initially. However, after Ed ruins Peter's Air Jordans the tone shifts to the more extreme. It is hard to know who to root for in this war. Ed is a cantankerous poop who acts like a child. Peter is a spoiled brat who is never sympathetic.
The film does try to make some life lessons as it wraps things up. There is a message of the sacrifices families make for each other but it never feels earned. Ed and Peter are so selfish that it is hard to believe they will take that theme to heart. Cheech Marin and Christopher Walken bring some fun in a few scenes but everyone here is better than this material. You may want a family film to watch this weekend but the bar shouldn't have to be this low.