Oakes Fegley (left) and Robert DeNiro (right) star in “The War with Grandpa” (Photo Credit: 101 Studios).
A Much-Needed Respite from 2020
Consciousness has consumed the year 2020 and rightfully so.
With the coronavirus pandemic still claiming lives and the turbulent presidential election, it should come as no surprise that many fans want consciousness from their entertainment like the new music from Nas, Public Enemy and Royce da 5’9.
But no matter how conscious and woke someone appears, comedy can provide much needed relief from the stresses of life.
And the equally cute and cantankerous movie “The War with Grandpa” is the perfect comedy if one wants a break from the harsh realities of this crazy year known as 2020.
A wise person once said that parents take care of their children during their formative years.
However, the roles change as the family ages.
Age often leads to children taking care of their parents as the years progress.
And sometimes, the need for children to take care of their parents necessitates the need for parents to leave their home and live at their child’s home.
In “The War with Grandpa,” Ed (Robert DeNiro, “The Irishman” and “Joker”) not only moves into his daughter Sally’s house (Uma Thurman), he commandeers his grandson Peter’s bedroom (Oakes Fegley, “Boardwalk Empire”).
As a child, a bedroom is one’s own safe haven.
It provides a sense of privacy.
And a bedroom allows a child to showcase their own unique personality when it comes to décor and vibe.
But unfortunately for Pete, his parents only have a three-bedroom home.
And because his sisters Jenny and Mia already share a room, the logical decision is to give Ed Pete’s room.
Therefore, Pete’s parents force him to relocate to the attic.
To make matters worse for Pete, he is entering the sixth grade.
As a first time middle school student, school life can present challenges for a sixth grader.
They go from being kings and queens of the elementary school to becoming bait for bullies from the eighth grade.
Although eighth graders and sixth graders have only two years of separation, the age gap seems much bigger when many of the eighth graders look bigger than high school students.
So in one fell swoop, Pete goes from ruling his own kingdom to having his whole existence turned upside down.
Pete does not have enough brute strength to fight the eighth grade bullies.
When the school bully does something to intimidate those weaker than him, he says, “Oooops. That happened.”
However, he should have enough power to defeat an old man who stole his bedroom.
Therefore, Pete declares war on Ed.
Pete actually passes a Declaration of War from the Secret Warrior under his grandfather’s bedroom door.
“The War with Grandpa” becomes a family civil war that might lead to a Reconstruction period for the family if things get out of control on the battlefield.
Pete and Ed eventually develop rules of engagement for their war like no snitching and no impacting the other family members in the home.
After the warring factions reach an agreement on the rules of engagement, the shenanigans begin.
Pete does things like use remote control cars with an iPod attached in order to wake his grandfather up in the middle of the night to the 1994 hip-hop hit song, “Tootsee Roll” by 69 Boyz.
The young sixth grader also plays practical jokes on his grandfather like placing superglue on his grandfather’s coveted jar of marbles, which has sentimental value to him.
Despite his old age, Ed is no slouch when it comes to practical jokes.
Ed does things like rewrite Pete’s essay on his summer vacation in order to make a fool out of him in front of his friends, teacher and peers.
Pete’s grandfather also destroys Pete’s progress on a video game that he has worked on for years.
Ed and Pete even enlist their friends to help out with the battle of the age classes.
The group war becomes known as the Age Appropriate team versus the AARP team.
Despite the shenanigans, and the star power of Thurman, De Niro and Rob Riggle (who plays Pete’s father, Arthur) carrying much of the movie, the undisputed star of “The War with Grandpa” is Poppy Gagnon, who plays Pete’s baby sister, Jenny.
For some reason, the baby girl is obsessed with Christmas.
Jenny is not obsessed with Christmas like many normal children when the calendar turns to December.
She is obsessed with Christmas 365 days of the year, every year.
Jenny wears Christmas sweaters when it does not appear hot.
Every game on her iPad is Christmas related.
She sings Christmas songs around the house for no apparent reason whatsoever.
Jenny even has a Christmas themed birthday party in early September, complete with snow, Santa Claus and “Merry Birthday” banners in the yard.
“The War with Grandpa” also has a good cameo from comedian Faizon Love (“Friday” and “Money Talks”) who has a fight with Ed at the grocery store, after the grandfather tries to rob the joint.
The fiasco at the grocery story is what leads to the move into Sally’s home in the first place.
Therefore, Ed’s war with the grocery store clerk sets up an even bigger war with his own grandson.
“The War with Grandpa” is the typical comedy, nothing special.
But that is what America might need more than anything right now, a cute and comical film that an entire family can enjoy together in the living room.
The film will allow family members, young and old, to get away from contemptuous politicians and depressing news stories and enjoy much-needed lighter moments in a year often too heavy to handle.