Robert De Niro’s career has been filled with a litany of hit films that have leaned toward crime thrillers. From time to time, he has dabbled in comedy, with hit or miss results. Surprisingly, one of his recent comedies is climbing the streaming charts, sitting at #2 on HBO Max.
The War with Grandpa stars Robert De Niro as Ed Marino, a recently widowed elderly man who finds himself in trouble when he accidentally steals from a grocery store. After causing a scene, Ed returns home to a visit from his daughter Sally (Uma Thurman). She wants him to move in with her and her family. Ed refuses, saying he wants to remain living in the house he built.
Sally doesn’t give up and Robert De Niro’s Ed reluctantly moves in. Upon his arrival, Sally gives him her young son Peter’s room, a move that immediately doesn’t go over with Peter. Forced into the attic, Peter decides it’s time for revenge on his grandfather.
The rest of Sally’s family, husband Arthur (Rob Riggle), and their two daughters Mia and Jenny have no problem with Robert De Niro’s Ed. Peter, though, declares war. Ed, understanding Peter’s issues, goes along with “war” as long as they abide by the rules set forth, the main one being that no one in the family must know about their war. Let the pranks begin.
Peter starts out by replacing Ed’s shaving cream with quick-drying foam. He then damages Ed’s record player. Ed responds by removing all the screws from Peter’s room furniture and rewriting Peter’s school report. Yes, these are the sort of lowball hijinks that follow.
Ed turns to his partners in crime, Danny (Cheech Marin) and Jerry (Christopher Walken) for advice on how to handle not only Peter but life outside of the home he wishes to live in. But as time goes on, Ed spends more of it with his son-in-law and granddaughters, learning how to live again.
One of the movie’s comedic highlights comes when Ed, his two friends Danny and Jerry, and Diane (a game Jane Seymour) are challenged to a game of dodgeball against Peter and his friends. It’s all fun and game (and a little painful) until it truly gets painful when Danny gets blasted in the face, injuring his jaw.
Things come to a head when Peter takes things a bit too far (imagine that) and when Ed responds, their jig is up. The family sees the war between Ed and Peter for what it is. Ed ends up injured and Peter begins his six-month “house arrest.”
In all movies of this sort, lessons must be learned, and endings must tie a neat ribbon on things. The War with Grandpa does both while setting up the possibility of a sequel.
The War with Grandpa, while only recently released in movie theaters, has been around since 2017, when it was filmed. But like many other films, delays ensued. The first came in April 2017 when it was initially set to be released. The Robert De Niro movie was pushed to October of that year when the production was forced to change its principal photography location. In August 2017, the movie was again pushed back, this time to February 2018.
The Robert De Niro movie was then pulled for good in January 2018 as the movie’s distributor, The Weinstein Company, would no longer be distributing it based on the Harvey Weinstein fallout. In October 2020, after three years and a few months, The War with Grandpa finally got its release.
The highlight of The War with Grandpa was, undoubtedly, the onscreen reunion between Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken, one that was 42 years in the making. The two famously paired up in the 1978 war drama The Deer Hunter and had not been seen on screen together since that time. Why they chose this movie is anyone’s guess but De Niro couldn’t have been more thrilled. He told Looper of their reunion, “I was told that they were thinking about having Chris in the film and I was very happy about that,” De Niro says. “It was a matter of just getting him and working it all out, so it was great. It was great for him to be in it, and we’ve known each other a long time, obviously, and it was very nice to have him in it.”
For Robert De Niro, this film represents what one would call neither a hit nor a miss. Critics were lukewarm to De Niro and company’s antics, while audiences found it fairly delightful. The Tim Hill-directed movie cost $35 million to make (most of which has to be going to its stars) while bringing home a respectable $41 million at the box office.
While The War with Grandpa could be considered one of Rober De Niro’s rougher choices of movie roles of the past decade, he still has shown up in some dandies. The last decade has seen DeNiro star in winners such as Silver Lining Playbook, Last Vegas, The Intern, Heist, Hands of Stone, Joker, and of course, The Irishman.
Next up for Robert De Niro is the COVID delayed film The Comeback Trail. After that, DeNiro will reteam once again with director Martin Scorsese in Killers of the Flower Moon, which will also co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, and tells the 1920’s true story of members of the Osage tribe, who are murdered under mysterious circumstances.
If you’re looking for some Robert De Niro-led smiles, though, head on over to HBO Max and go to war with Grandpa and Peter.