The War With Grandpa

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Universal;
Comedy;
Box Office $18.39 million;
$22.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG’ for rude humor, language, and some thematic elements.
Stars Robert De Niro, Oakes Fegley, Uma Thurman, Rob Riggle, Laura Marano, Poppy Gagnon, Cheech Marin, Christopher Walken, Jane Seymour.

Based on the children’s novel of the same name by Robert Kimmel Smith, The War With Grandpa is an odd little comedy that seems more mean-spirited than it turns out to be.

Robert De Niro stars as Ed, who moves in with his daughter (Uma Thurman) after an accident. When he’s given the room of his grandson, Peter (Oakes Fegley), this upsets the young lad. And since he’s just learning about the U.S. Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence in school, he sends a note to grandpa declaring war unless his room is returned.

Grandpa has a few chuckles with his pals over the note, but doesn’t take it too seriously, prompting Peter to escalate things to a full-on prank war.

Ed, understanding his grandson’s frustration but egged on by his friends, pulls Peter aside and they work out a series of rules for when and where they can prank each other — the most important one is not letting Peter’s parents or other siblings find out about it — so it never gets beyond harmless fun.

That is, until Peter’s younger sister has a Christmas-themed birthday party that gives the filmmakers all sorts of excuses for mayhem.

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 The War With Grandpa is filled with occasional laughs and should serve as a nice diversion for families looking to pass the time. In addition to the pretty standard back-and-forth prank format, the film also heavily relies on a “Family Guy”-style flashback structure — in which a character brings up something that happened, prompting the film to cut to a scene of the humorous incident occurring.

There’s also some clever stuff about the generational technology gap, as grandpa can’t figure out how phones and automated checkout machines work, while the Jenny the youngest granddaughter keeps asking if Ed wants to watch a movie on the tablet she’s always toting around.

The Blu-ray presentation doesn’t include any extras.

Comedy ‘Friendsgiving’ Due on Disc Oct. 27

The comedy Friendsgiving arrives on Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD Oct. 27 from Lionsgate. It will be available for digital sellthrough and VOD Oct. 23.

Produced by Ben Stiller, Friendsgiving stars Malin Akerman, Kat Dennings, Wanda Sykes, Christine Taylor, Chelsea Peretti, Aisha Tyler and Jane Seymour.

In the film, Abby (Dennings) is looking forward to a laid-back Thanksgiving with her best friend Molly (Akerman). But plans for a quiet turkey dinner go up in smoke when they’re joined by Molly’s new boyfriend and her flamboyant mother (Seymour). Soon come party crashers, including Molly’s old flame, a wannabe shaman, and a trio of Fairy Gay Mothers (Sykes, Margaret Cho, and Fortune Feimster).

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Extras include audio commentary with writer-director Nicol Paone and producer-actor Malin Akerman; “Making Friendsgiving: Serving Up Insanity”; and a gag reel.

Holiday Film ‘Buttons: A Christmas Tale’ Due on Digital Nov. 19, DVD Dec. 3 From Paramount

The holiday film Buttons: A Christmas Tale will arrive on digital Nov. 19 and DVD Dec. 3 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The cast includes Jane Seymour, Roma Downey and Abigail Spencer, along with screen legends Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury.  The film is narrated by Kate Winslet and Robert Redford.

From creator/director/writer/composer Tim Janis, who has sold millions of albums and worked with a wide array of artists, Buttons: A Christmas Tale follows the heartwarming journey of two orphan girls whose only wish is to find a home for Christmas. With a little help from their guardian angels (Van Dyke and Lansbury), they discover that miracles really can happen when you find the power to believe.

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The DVD includes bonus songs, a music video and a photo gallery.

Lionsgate Releasing ‘Little Italy’ Nov. 20

Lionsgate will release the romantic comedy Little Italy on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally Nov. 20. The film is currently available on demand.

Little Italy stars Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen as childhood friends whose budding romance is threatened by their parents’ rival pizzerias. The cast also includes Alyssa Milano, Danny Aiello, Jane Seymour and Andrea Martin. The film was directed by Donald Petrie (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Miss Congeniality).

Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette and trailers.