Move over Spike Lee. Fifteen-year-old Tre Peart, who recently produced his first feature film with his parents, may soon become a household name. The War with Grandpa, a family comedy starring Robert De Niro, debuted in theaters today. Tre was only eight years old when he read Robert Kimmel Smith’s award-winning book by the same name, and decided he wanted to see the story on screen.
The plot centers on a newly widowed grandfather who moves in with his daughter’s family and (gasp!) takes over his grandson’s room, sparking a war between the two. The film boasts a star-studded cast that also includes Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken, Cheech Marin, Oakes Fegley, and Jane Seymour.
“There’s a rule in the house that my mom made, that I had to read the book before I watch the movie,” Tre recently told us in a Zoom interview. “I couldn’t find the movie anywhere.”
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When Tre approached his mother, Rosa Peart of Marro Media Company, she thought the idea “was cute.” But after her son kept insisting that he wanted to see the movie, Rosa helped him craft and pitch it to his father, producer and financier Marvin Peart of Brookdale Studios, who was about to leave on a trip.
“So he pitched me and I said, ‘Wow. Do you have the book?'” Marvin recalled. “He said, ‘yeah,’ so I took the book on the plane and read it. The next morning when I landed in L.A., I said, ‘listen, this is a great idea. I think we have our next project.’”
The family was surprised to discover that the rights for the book were available and recruited writers to adapt it into a script.
It was Tre’s idea to cast the highly sought after De Niro for the role of the grandfather. He even created a video urging the iconic actor to take the lead role.
“He was not too crazy with the word grandpa in the movie,” Rosa said, adding that the Oscar-winning actor thought it was too soon after his 2016 movie, Dirty Grandpa, (which was panned by critics.)
“We were trying to convince him, ‘no, it’s a family movie,’” she said. “He had never done a family movie like this.”
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When De Niro met with the family and saw the script, he said he liked its premise and tone. But he asked them to rewrite it, Marvin Peart said. The family then turned to screenwriters Matt Ember and Tom J. Astle of Get Smart (2008) fame, to rework the script. De Niro liked the rewrite and signed on. Tom Hill directed the film.
Tre, who worked as a production assistant, said it was “a lot of fun” being on set at the age of 12. (The movie’s release was delayed due to its previous affiliation with the embattled Weinstein Company).
“I talked to the actors a lot, making sure they were happy. I also tried to observe and tried to learn from everything that was going on because this was a first for me, being around all these people and seeing how movies are made,” he said.
Tre, now in high school, was involved in the pre-production work from reading various versions of the script, to making notes on the jokes from a kid’s point of view, his mother said. He also helped choose music for various scenes.
Asked if he was compensated, Rosa said yes, adding, “We had an agreement and he got compensated. We made sure he worked for his money.”
So can we expect to see Tre Peart’s name on other films?
“Yes you will,” the New Jersey teen said, before revealing he’s taking filmmaking classes and has “a lot of things coming.”
The War with Grandpa is now playing nationwide. A list of theaters can be found here. Check out the trailer below.