Starring-Robert De Niro, Zac Efron
Scott’s Review #432
Reviewed June 29, 2016
It is a sad day when the only interesting aspect of a film is the gratuitous nudity of one of its stars, but that is precisely the case with Dirty Grandpa, as Zac Efron bravely bares all for the sake of art….or a big paycheck, whichever the case may be. Otherwise, Dirty Grandpa is complete drivel. It is crass, rude, mean-spirited, and blatant in its raunch. It also aspires (successfully) to be politically incorrect- quite surprising in these time of fairness and equality for all. If the film’s intention is to be outrageous it succeeds in spades. Unfortunately, there is not much comedy and the film is quite bad, even where dumb comedies are concerned.
Starring one of films greatest talents of all time- Robert DeNiro, one wonders why he would sign on to appear in this film- certainly not the money, perhaps it has to do with playing a role he has yet to do- we will probably never know. DeNiro plays Dick Kelly, a retired Army veteran, recently widowed after forty years of marriage. Faithful for decades, he embarks on a road trip to Daytona Beach Florida, with his grandson,Jason, in tow. Dick’s goal is to conquer a slutty college girl he and Jason meet while they are eating at a roadside diner. Lenore, the college girl, is with her friend Shadia, who knows Jason from school. To complicate matters, Jason is engaged to self absorbed Meredith. Clearly this sets off a chain of circumstances where each pair falls in love, all the while hurdling various trivial issues. Thrown in are scenes of partying, acting silly, and outrageous crude remarks and behavior. The standard bathroom humour is not spared.
The subject matter of Dirty Grandpa is not unchartered territory as the “road trip/buddy movie” has been done oodles of times in film history. My gripe is not so much with the films raunchiness, but to be blunt it is just not funny. Over the top in raunch comedy has worked many times before- think Pink Flamingos and other John Waters films. But those films had characters to root for and who were interesting. DeNiro’s character is the pits- Efron’s not so bad. The motivation of Dick Kelly is to have sex- almost like the guys in American Pie, but with them it was cute- but DeNiro plays a man in his 70’s. That is fine, but he is so blunt about his need for sex and whines of not having sex for fifteen years because of his wife’s cancer. So, the audience is to think him a nice guy because he waits for his wife to die to score on spring break? Lame.
Efron is my favorite character and as mentioned above- he bares a lot of skin, making it the most appealing aspect of this sorry film. The chemistry between Efron and DeNiro is really not terrible, and I bought them as grandfather and grandson. Efron is not afraid to poke fun at his beefcake image and kudos to him for this. He has a fantastic, chiseled body and good for him for showing it off. Efron has the talent- anyone remember The Paperboy? He was superlative in that underrated independent gem. His character is the straight man in Dirty Grandpa and the only “normal” character. He is the voice of reason if you will.
The supporting characters are as stereotypical as possible. In fact, it is almost as if the film intends to offend, but with no good reason why. Dirty Grandpa has the dumb jocks, the horny teen girl, the weak, effeminate gay character, the Hispanic drug dealer,and so on and so forth. Danny Glover’s brief cameo appearance as a horny wheelchair bound nursing home resident (and old buddy of Dick) is as much laughable (not in a good way) as forgettable. Most characters are thinly written.
Dirty Grandpa appeals to unsophisticated moviegoers who find crude, mean spirited characters funny, and deem stock characters acceptable. Every other sensible person will dislike this film.