Mixed comedic re­sults in De Niro’s fam­ily War

The Timaru Herald - - Weekend Entertainm­ent -

The War With Grandpa (PG, 94 mins) Di­rected by Tim Hill Re­viewed by Graeme Tuck­ett ★★★

Years ago, when I was still young and dumb and seething with sel­f­righ­teous­ness, it would reg­u­larly ruin my en­tire week should I see Robert De Niro on screen in a film that did not seem to me to be wor­thy of his tal­ents.

Now, look­ing back at De Niro’s pretty ex­cel­lent cameo as Ben Stiller’s fe­ro­cious fa­ther-in-law-tobe in Meet The Par­ents, I can laugh along with the rest of the Western World.

But back then, the idea that the De Niro of The God­fa­ther, Good­fel­las, Rag­ing Bull, and Taxi Driver

would lower him­self to – gasp – a fam­ily com­edy was like hear­ing that Leonard Co­hen had joined The Wig­gles. And I re­belled against it in my soul.

These days, I’m just happy if De Niro es­capes with a shred of dig­nity in­tact and hope that he’s do­nat­ing his fees to a wor­thy char­ity.

I fig­ure, at his age, he can do what he wants and it’s no busi­ness of mine if he turns up in some­thing called The War With Grandpa,

play­ing a se­nior cit­i­zen en­gaged in a feud with his grand­son over who gets the bed­room and who has to sleep in the attic when grandpa moves in with his daugh­ter, her hus­band and their chil­dren.

The War With Grandpa is one of those films you re­ally don’t need to know much about, be­yond what you can see on the poster.

Yes, it’s go­ing to be a se­ries of staged set pieces, played out by ut­terly stereo­typ­i­cal char­ac­ters, to a sound­track of what­ever is in the pop charts this month, lead­ing to a hugs-and-lessons con­clu­sion.

And none of that is a bad thing. The world needs safe, sac­cha­rine, pre­dictable and dis­pos­able cin­ema just as much as it needs the good stuff.

And, of its type, The War With Grandpa ain’t ter­ri­ble.

With Uma Thur­man tak­ing on the thank­less role of De Niro’s daugh­ter/mother to the 12-year-old, and a back-up crew for Bob that in­cludes Cheech Marin and Jane Sey­mour, plus some­one I thought was a ter­ri­ble Christo­pher Walken im­per­son­ator, but who turned out to ac­tu­ally be Christo­pher Walken, at least direc­tor Tim Hill (Hop) has a deep bench of stu­pen­dously overqual­i­fied tal­ent to draw on when­ever the thin script is run­ning out of steam.

And Oakes Eg­ley (Pete’s Dragon) is ab­so­lutely fine, find­ing some nice mo­ments of light and shade as the grand­son who just wants his room back.

On the other hand, this is still a movie that thinks it’s hi­lar­i­ous to crack jokes about old men leer­ing at young women in work­out gear, and which plays the sight of a 70-year-old man fall­ing off a roof for laughs.

So, y’know, it’s not ex­actly high­brow we’re talk­ing here.

Also, the fi­nal scene is a bla­tant setup for a se­quel, which seems to me to be op­ti­mistic to the point of delu­sional.

So, there you have it. The War With Grandpa. If you like what you see on the poster, or if you were a fan of the book, then you’ll prob­a­bly like what you see on the screen.

The world needs safe, sac­cha­rine, pre­dictable and dis­pos­able cin­ema just as much as it needs the good stuff. En­ter The War With Grandpa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.