We all love our grandparents, they possess decades of memories, stories, and lessons for us to learn. We look up to our grandparents to show us the way in life, and in the movies there have been countless grandparents that help shepherd their children and grandchildren on their journeys. One such grandma is Lily Tomlin in her new film, appropriately titled “Grandma” in which she plays a grandma with sass, and edgy wit. To celebrate another fantastic grandma on screen, we’ve made a list of five unforgettable movie grandparents.
Julie Andrews – Princess Diaries
Smart, sassy and beautiful, Julie Andrews is convinces as both a Queen and a grandmother to Anne Hathaway (in her film debut). As the queen of Genova, Andrews carries a regal air with her, making sure that everyone around her knows exactly who’s in charge at all times. The Queen is smart, funny, and incredibly quick witted, at one point helping her granddaughter to get out of a speeding ticket by appointing the officer to “The Order of The Rose” a made up organization. With so many incredible and dignified performances under her belt, it only makes sense that Julie Andrews would be able to add yet another fantastic character to her repertoire.
Peter Falk – The Grandfather – Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is a story within a story, opening with one of the great opening scenes of all time, as a grandpa bequeaths onto his grandson a family tradition, the reading of “The Princess Bride”. Grandpa says that “My father read it to me, I read it to your father, and now I’m going to read it to you”. The young boy, played by Fred Savage, isn’t interested, but Grandapa, played by Peter Falk, describes the story as “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…” The addition of the grandfather/grandson relationship helps us to contextualize some of the more fantastical sections of the story, because we know that it’s an imaginary story, read to a young, sick boy.
Betty White – Grandma Annie – The Proposal
Who could forget Betty White’s return to the public eye as the eccentric grandma that makes up the heart and soul of this Ryan Reynolds/Sandra Bullock rom-com. Betty’s character takes a very active investment in her grandson’s new fiancé, graciously bringing her into the family and, in an unforgettable sequence, performing a sunrise Native American ritual to welcome Sandra to the family. Betty White’s career experienced something of a renaissance, with her hosting SNL and starring in her own TvLand sitcom, as well as her infamous prank show: Betty White’s: Off Their Rockers. Were it not for the proposal, we may never have again experienced the perfect comedic timing and wit of America’s sweetheart, Betty White.
Tyler Perry – Madea – Madea Cinematic Universe
The absolute most divisive and fascinating character on this list, Tyler Perry’s Madea defies any easy categorization, appearing in nine theatrical releases and even more stage plays. Madea, as played by Perry, is an elderly woman who is quick tempered and even quicker with a gun. Audiences have seen Madea torture, kill, go to prison, bring families together, and star in her own animated movie. One look at the shockingly expansive Madea Wikipedia page proves that this isn’t any regular character, this is an expansive universe to rival even Marvel. The Madea Cinematic Universe (or MCU) is an enormous and huge world that defies all explanation. All this is to say that, if nothing else, Madea is one of the most unique grandparent characters of all time.
Gene Hackman – Royal Tenenbaum – The Royal Tennenbaums
The lead of one of acclaimed director Wes Anderson’s earliest films, Gene Hackman plays Royal Tenenbaum as a man in an incredibly conflicted scenario. Royal wants to make a connection to the family that he pushed away, but is unable to set aside some of his more unsavoury personality traits, to his own chagrin. Royal is acerbic, witty, and ruthless against his enemies but learns to accept his own personality flaws as well as own up for how he formatively messed up his kids. In the end, Royal isn’t a saint, but he’s a man who has seen the effects of his callous attitude towards others, and tried to make amends with his misdeeds.
GRANDMA is released today in UK cinemas, please read our review of the film.