There was a time in history where a good cast typically meant a good movie, but nowadays, it simply means a studio had a little extra pocket money for salaries on something they know is lackluster. Though, “Dirty Grandpa” held my interest for one reason alone: they shot the film at my aunt and uncle’s country club in Atlanta and they were able to see the set while shooting occurred. Fun fact: the golf course in the film is spray-painted green. I thought that was a pretty cool tidbit of information, but there’s a problem with this information.
To see that the golf course in the film is green, one must actually see the film; something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
“Dirty Grandpa” sucks. “Dirty Grandpa” sucks a lot. I typically don’t like boiling a movie down to that black-and-white, but “Dirty Grandpa” is the rare “Fantastic Four“-esque experience that calls for such language. I counted how many times the film made me laugh, which came up at a whopping zero. I began to count how many times I lightly chucked, which came to three, all three times came from Lenore (Aubrey Plaza), a hyper-sexualized college student dead set on having sex with Dick Kelly (Robert De Niro) and all three times were shown at least once in various trailers. Oh, De Niro… how you’ve fallen; I’ll admit “The Intern” was a sweet and enjoyable diversion from your typical work, but how in debt are you that you have to do this? Come on Robby.
To put the “plot” simply, “Dirty Grandpa” revolves around Jason Kelly (Zac Efron), a corporate lawyer living in Atlanta, engaged to Meredith (Julianne Hough) and subservient to his father, David (Dermot Mulroney). After his grandmother’s death, Jason is tasked with taking his grandpa, Dick, down to Boca Raton, Fla to his vacation home. Once he picks up his grandfather, he realizes he is in for a much different experience with a much more irreverent and disgusting man than he originally thought. Eventually, they follow Lenore and Shadia (Zoey Deutch), an old friend of Jason’s, to Daytona Beach for spring break, where all sorts of “hilarity” occur.
Efron is on his way to getting into my list of “actors I don’t like” soon if he doesn’t turn his act around. With “We Are Your Friends” still looming, “Dirty Grandpa” only hurts him further, really damaging what could’ve been a successful career. My feelings for De Niro have already been voiced. Yet, it’s Plaza’s performance as Lenore that makes me sad and not that it’s egregiously bad compared to the others, it’s just that Plaza’s comedic timing is so impeccable and wonderful in real life and on “Parks and Recreation,” that it’s strange as to how all her choices in films are lackluster and don’t measure up to her potential. Even then, she’s still the best part of the film hands down.
Director Dan Mazer seems to coast along in this film, not hitting any sort of hard hitting points to give for comedic timing whatsoever, which can also be blamed on John M. Phillips’s disgusting script, riddled with offensive humor, gross sex humor and gags that only a middle schooler would find funny, ironic seeing as “Dirty Grandpa” is rated-R. There’s a way to do offensive humor and gross sex humor right, see movies like “Trainwreck” and “Spy,” both of which had distasteful jokes throughout and both were very funny films. “Dirty Grandpa” has the idea, but does absolutely nothing with them and resorts to racist and homophobic humor with no bite.
I can really get into a film that pushes the boundaries of appropriateness, but “Dirty Grandpa” breaks these boundaries and has no idea what to do once it gets past the wall. When a film only knows how to shock an audience and not how to actually make them laugh, it becomes a major problem. Everything would be different if the screenplay had an ounce of comedic timing, or even some heart to it, but the film is nothing but a mean-spirited, gross, unfunny, embarrassing piece of trash that feels three hours long and almost garnered a zero score from me, but since Plaza tried her best with the material in her performance, I’ll push my opinion up just a tad.
Directed by: Dan Mazer
Starring: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch, Julianne Hough and Dermot Mulroney.
Runtime: 102 minutes
Rating: R for crude sexual content throughout, graphic nudity, and for language and drug use.
Lionsgate presents, a BillBlock Media, QED International and Josephson Entertainment production, “Dirty Grandpa”