Life must suck if your Pop Pop can score more college-aged poon than you can. Academy Award winner Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch and Dermot Mulroney star in Dirty Grandpa.
Cast of Characters:
Dick Kelly – Robert De Niro
Jason Kelly – Zac Efron
Shadia – Zoey Deutch
Lenore – Aubrey Plaza
Pam – Jason Mantzoukas
Meredith Goldstein – Julianne Hough
Stinky – Danny Glover
David Kelly – Dermot Mulroney
Director – Dan Mazer
Screenplay – John Philips
Producer – Jason Barrett, Bill Block, Barry Josephson & Michael Simkin
Rated R for crude sexual content throughout, graphic nudity, and for language and drug use
Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is just one week away from marrying his ball-breaking fiancee Meredith Goldstein (Julianne Hough), a move that will do wonders for him at the law firm Meredith’s dad runs. But, following the death of his grandmother, his grandpa Dick (Robert De Niro) tricks him into driving him down to Daytona, so grandpappy can get his dick wet in all those lovely college girls who are tossing their dignity down the shitter while away on Spring Break.
Needless to say, such a lascivious endeavor puts Jason’s pending nuptials in serious jeopardy.
Dirty Grandpa is this year’s Bad Grandpa, the difference between them being that Robert De Niro/Zac Efron led comedy is scripted and Johnny Knoxville’s film was pretty much a 90-minute hidden camera prank on unsuspecting participants.
The second, and most unfortunate, difference is that Bad Grandpa was at least funny. Sure, most of the laughs were by way of the Candid Camera reactions from those not in on the joke, but considering that was the film’s intention, they definitely count.
Not that this film is void of any laughs. Robert De Niro, who’s never been opposed to phoning in a role from time to time, is actually having fun with this character, essentially a geriatric version of Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa. Putting aside the blatant contradictions with his character (one moment, he’s mocking a gay black character, the next he’s defending him like he’s his lover), De Niro’s trying his best to wring out what laughs he can out of one filthy joke, and any laughs that are scored here are by way of De Niro (though Efron doesn’t get much to work with as his milquetoast yuppie grandson, he and De Niro do have some solid chemistry together).
So if De Niro is the main star and is the one earning all the laughs, what’s the problem then? Well, the problem is that it’s only De Niro producing any laughs. Also, the film’s marketing strategy is a giant bait-and-switch. This film shouldn’t have been called Dirty Grandpa. This isn’t about him; it’s about Efron’s character, so if anything this film should’ve been called Pussy-Whipped Grandson.
My guess is director Dan Mazer and writer John Philips (who’s writing the upcoming sequel to Bad Santa… thanks for nothing, Hollywood) felt they could only stretch out the one-joke premise so far, which is understandable, so they needed some sort of plot to frame around all the dirty shenanigans. Enter Efron’s pending marriage to his shrill fiancee played by Julianne Hough.
We immediately know Meredith’s a nut-cracker the moment she tryies to go over wedding decorations in the middle of the funeral for Jason’s grandma, then throws a hissy fit when Jason, for some odd reason, thinks it’s not the right time to do that. We immediately know that Jason’s gonna fall in love with his old schoolmate, Zoey Deutch’s Shadia, the moment he reconnects with her. And we immediately know that Jason’s gonna give up his cushy, high-paying job for his true passion, photography, the very moment someone mentions how talented he used to be at taking pictures.
Much less interesting are the ragtag group of side characters Philips throws into the mix. Jason Mantzoukas is funny as Rafi in FX’s The League, but here he’s stuck playing a far less funnier version of that character (which, to be honest, is the only character he plays). Aubrey Plaza is definitely game as the object of De Niro’s affections, or at least his boner’s affections, but she’s given fuck-all to work with. This film also continues an annoying trend I see pop up all the time now in these raunchy comedies where authority figures act like the biggest fucking morons on the planet. Here it’s two cops that are so stupid they’d fail as a hall monitor, let alone a member of the police force. Scenes of them giving back confiscated drugs to Mantzoukas’s character or not giving a shit about any of the other felonies committed in this film would be fine if this was a spoof. However, there’s supposed to be some sort of realism (I’m aware I’m using that term rather liberally right now) to this story, so their idiot act doesn’t work at all.
Oh, and as for underrated character actor Dermot Mulroney, I’ll just say he’s gets more to do in just one scene of his recurring guest star spot on Shameless than he does in his entirety of scenes in this film.
But at least in this film he gets a penis marked all across his face in permanent marker.
Enjoy that paycheck.
Dirty Grandpa has a few laugh-out-loud moments, but they’re far from enough to justify seeing what is mostly a dull R-rated raunch-fest. If there’s any reason to kill off 1 1/2-2 hours of your life on this film, it’d be Robert De Niro, who holds nothing back in his portrayal of the titular sleazy patriarch, but beyond what he brings to the table, there’s not much else.
I give Dirty Grandpa a C- (★★).
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1/25/16 What the Hell Were They Thinking?!
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