Battle of the Ages
It has been a long time since we have seen a movie in the movie theater – slightly over 7 months to be precise. And even bad reviews by the critics couldn’t stop us from seeing The War with Grandpa. I rationalized and said that the cinema needs us. As a movie reviewer, I put aside my pre-conceived notions about this film to bring you the best Christian movie review of The War with Grandpa so you could make an informed decision about seeing the movie.
This movie is timely in my house right now. Grandpa has not come to live with us, but Grandma has. While my two sons (ages 16 and 17) didn’t have to give up their rooms, my 17 year old had to give up the room he played the piano in. This was his turf where he felt he could escape when he needed to get away to process teenage feelings. So while he doesn’t want to start a war with his grandmother, he can relate to some of the feelings of the boy in the movie.
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This battle of the ages movie is based on a book by Robert Kimmel Smith by the same name. While I have not read the book, it is now on my list to read!
What is the Grandfather’s Name in The War with Grandpa?
This may seem like an odd question, but I know some of you are going to ask this. In the original book, Grandpa’s name was Jack, however, in the movie it is Ed. You may find some movie reviews that use the name Jack – which makes me wonder if they really saw the movie! LOL
Christian Movie Review for Parents – The War with Grandpa
Synopsis of The War with Grandpa
The movie stars Robert DeNiro as Grandpa Ed. He is a widower who reluctantly moves in with his daughter, Sally (Uma Thurman) and her husband Arther (Rob Riggle). The couple has three children, Mia (Laura Marano), Jenny (Poppy Gagnon), and Peter (Oakes Fegley).
When Grandpa moves in and takes over Peter’s room, Peter declares war. The two draw up terms of the war and agree not to harm any other family members and to keep this a secret between just the two of them. Plenty of pranks ensue, however, at some point, things get out of hand and even when Grandpa calls a truce for Jenny’s birthday, things escalate even further than either of them imagined.
Christopher Walken plays a friend of Ed’s named Jerry, and he is delightful in his role. Furthermore, Jane Seymour plays a cashier turned friend, and my children commented that she looks great for her age – and she really does.
Every time I review a movie of this caliber, I will have some Christians telling me that I am leading my family right to the pits of hell by taking them to see such vile movies.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there will be other people angry at me. I will get messages that say my children should be taken away because I am repressed and raising them to be overly judgmental because I try to list any type of content that people might object to.
If you would like to read how I review movies, please see this post here.
The War with Grandpa Christian Movie Review for Parents
The Good Content in The War with Grandpa
This movie has a lot of wonderful messages intertwined in the slap-stick humor, crude middle school behavior, and downright mean pranks. One of the good messages portrayed in this movie, is that war is messy and there really are no winners.
Another great message in this film is the importance of family. Over and over we see love, tenderness, and genuine concern for family members. Additionally, we see how grandpa adds to the family dynamic in such an overall positive way.
Ed has much wisdom. This is a movie that values the wisdom of the older generation which is so lacking in many movies and sitcoms today. He offers valuable advice to his daughter regarding how she is parenting her own daughter. He also expresses sorrow over the relationship that was strained because of how he responded when Sally was younger. Sally has no recollection of that time period, but her dad knows he lost time with her. This is time he can never get back.
There are plenty of scenes that are so silly I was laughing out loud. My 27 year old daughter said the same thing. However, could the laughs overshadow the negatives of this movie?
The Bad – Possible Objectionable Content:
As a Christian, there are several things that stood out to me in this film. However, I list everything I think someone may have a problem with whether I have a problem or not!
Language: Right in the beginning of the movie, the opening song had the word h-ll. Additionally, the following words or phrases were used: “h-lls yes,” a-s, and d-mn.
Crude language is also used such as idiot, boobie, nuts (to refer to male body parts).
Violence: Overall, this movie has a very Home Alone feel to it with the pranks that Grandpa and Peter plan for one another. There are plenty of “injuries” without anyone actually getting hurt. The number of times people fell on their heads and miraculously were fine was astounding.
Sexual Content: There are a few references to body parts (see above under language). Also, Peter’s older sister is caught with her boyfriend several times. The implication is that they have been making out, but no physical contact is shown. However, her boyfriend’s shirt is unbuttoned in one scene.
Grandpa’s towel falls off when he is in the bathroom, and the scene is long and drawn out, but nothing is shown. In another scene he is shown in his boxer shorts.
One of Ed’s elderly friends, Danny (Cheech Marin), is a womanizer.
Other Objectionable Content:
Peter’s older sister is rebellious and sneaks her boyfriend in the house when she doesn’t think anyone will find out.
A funeral is shown with a body in a casket. This may be a hard scene for children who have recently lost a loved one. Since this is a comedy, there is laughter surrounding this scene, and that may further cause emotional trauma.
One of Peter’s friends has an older sister who is a downright bully towards her brother. She is constantly finding new ways to embarrass her brother.
Peter and his grandfather run from the law.
How to Use The War with Grandpa as a Teaching Tool
This movie highlights the importance of grandparents in the life of grandchildren. Grandpa has a tea party with Jenny, takes Peter fishing, and offers advice to his daughter. If you have thought that your parent is out of touch with reality because of some of their archaic beliefs, now is the time to reassess what is really important.
Do you want to raise children that treat you like you are treating your parents? Do you want your voice valued when you are older? The Bible says in Job 12:12 “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”
Furthermore, the message of Grandpa coming to live with the family because he is valued is one that is so needed today. We are currently living in a time when we hide away the elderly in homes and justify it by saying, “He’ll make friends there,” or “She will be with people her own age.” Interacting with younger generations is essential to the elderly.
Overall Viewing Recommendations:
While this movie is rated PG, there is content that I would not recommend especially for younger children. Overall, I think this movie would be fine for ages 10 and up, but I know that due to the content, some Christians may want to avoid this movie.
I also know there will be parents who say it is fine for younger children. However, my recommendation is due to the number of pranks and the fact that children are known to pull pranks without understanding the seriousness of those pranks.
So, is my 17 year old ready to wage a war against grandma? He joked around last night about slipping a note under her door declaring war. But it gave us some laughs about what in theory he could do. Laughter is a great way to help deal with situations you can’t always control.
Overall, the movie delivered exactly what I expected from it. While many critics were saying it was a complete dud, I wonder how many of those critics just enjoy a movie for the sake of watching a movie? The War with Grandpa delivered a star-studded cast with plenty of laughs. That, and the message of grandparents are valued, is why this Christian Movie Review gives The War with Grandpa a pass. While this movie will not win any awards, it is a much-needed diversion during a time when life is way too serious.
Homeschooling mom – 26 years and counting
Movie reviewer/Travel blogger