Director Tim Hill Discusses ‘The War With Grandpa’ Starring Robert De Niro

If you are looking for a film to watch with the entire family this weekend, The War With Grandpa is a solid choice. With an all-star cast that includes Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken, Cheech Marin, Rob Riggle, and Jane Seymour, a few smiles and laughs are automatically guaranteed.

Pitting legendary De Niro against talented youngin’ Oakes Fegley in a grandpa/grandson all-out war provides a classic turf battle that has us crying out that Grandpa’s hip should be broken by now. But the geriatric violence is all in the sake of comedy and by the end of the film, both Grandpa and grandson have learned some lessons and develop mutual respect for one another.

Director Tim Hill says the comedy, conflict, and relationships is what drew him to the film. “I related to a kid who has to give up his room. That’s the thing he has that he loves the most and he doesn’t see the fairness in it,” explained Tim. “That was really fun to explore. Plus, you know, the youth fighting the oldies is pretty fun.”

The chemistry between De Niro and onscreen grandson Oakes Fegley felt natural. “They really connected,” says Tim. “Bob [De Niro] was very helpful. He’s got the experience. He was great with Oakes and just a very giving actor and very patient.”

Robert De Niro as Grandpa Ed and Oakes Fegley as Peter in The War With Grandpa.

One of the most memorable scenes of the film is the dodgeball scene where Oakes’ character and his friends take on De Niro’s character and his senior friends (Walken, Marin, and Seymour). Tim says it was one of the more difficult scenes to shoot, but extremely fun. The director also shared that he was “in heaven” working with so many Hollywood greats. Tim explained that Christopher Walken’s character is not a character at all, but rather Chris just being himself, which was the actor’s choice.

As far as working with the young cast, Tim had some help from his wife, Veronica, who served as associate producer on the film and is also an acting coach. “She’s really skilled at finding the emotion so I give it up to her.” Tim added when working with children, he tries to keep the direction simple.

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“I’ve been doing this a long time. So, I try to be very simple, direct, and supportive. Giving them a chance to do something that’s not my idea is important. [I tell them to] do something you want to do on this take. Then you develop a rapport. I feel like they need to trust you. Sometimes you have to be tough because they play a lot. Kids on set are having the times of their lives. You’re like ‘okay, guys, it’s not woohoo time anymore’. And they are bored because it takes so long. You want to rehearse and shoot right away, but you can’t always do that. So, there is a lot of revisiting the notes you gave them two hours ago. I love them though. Kids are amazing.”

The War With Grandpa comes out in theaters this Friday, October 9th.

Synopsis, Star Rating + Trailer

Review Rating:
3.5/5

Sixth-grader Peter (Oakes Fegley) is pretty much your average kid — he likes gaming, hanging with his friends and his beloved pair of Air Jordans. But when his recently widowed grandfather Ed (Robert De Niro) moves in with Peter’s family, the boy is forced to give up his most prized possession of all, his bedroom. Unwilling to let such an injustice stand, Peter devises a series of increasingly elaborate pranks to drive out the interloper, but Grandpa Ed won’t go without a fight. Soon, the friendly combatants are engaged in an all-out war with side-splitting consequences. 

Based on the award-winning book by Robert Kimmel SmithThe War With Grandpa also stars Christopher Walken, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Cheech Marin, Laura Marano and Jane Seymour.

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Clip from The War with Grandpa: "The Attic"

Clip from The War with Grandpa: "Shaving Cream"

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