MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Dirty Grandpa’ Is Gross, And Not In A Fun Or Entertaining Way

dirty grandpa feature

Film: Dirty Grandpa
Directed by: Dan Mazer
Starring: Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Aubrey Plaza

Vulgar comedies are a dime a dozen today. Some go too far, some not far enough. Amongst the litany of studio dreck are a few gems, like Step Brothers or That’s My Boy (that’s right, I like that movie). Dirty Grandpa is not one of those gems. As a matter of fact, it’s so dramatically and comedically inept that you can’t help but sit frozen and befuddled until the credits roll. I’m having a hard time putting into words how I feel about Dirty Grandpa, so I’ll try as hard as the writers did on this thing to cobble together something cohesive. Simply put: It really, really sucks.

Jason Kelly’s (Zac Efron) grandma just died and he’s tasked with taking his grandfather, Dick Kelly (Robert De Niro), to Florida to carry out some old ritual that he and his wife had before her passing. Everything was going according to plan until Dick duped Jason into driving to Daytona Beach for one last spring break hurrah. Will Jason make it out of the next few days alive and back in time for his marriage to Meredith (Julianne Hough)? You probably won’t care. I didn’t.

If there were anything admirable about Dirty Grandpa, it’d be its commitment to one long and tired gag. There’s an appeal to seeing De Niro, one of cinema’s legends, swearing up a storm about how much unprotected sex he wants to have with co-eds. There’s even an unhinged quality to De Niro’s performance that isn’t reflected by anything else in the film! It’s just a damn shame that no one else was game for some no-risk debauchery. Yes, that even means the people behind the camera.

Director Dan Mazer seems completely uninterested in the material, constantly picking up plot threads and ditching them for some other joke that tries way too hard to work. The party scenes in Daytona Beach, in particular, reek of such disinterest, constantly diving into some slo-mo montage of Efron or others chugging beer before reverting back to something totally unrelated. The narrative tries to go for a hangout vibe. You know, the kind where people can just naturally exist and not really have to do anything. That gets sideswiped by some gooey moral undercurrent, though. People can’t just be assholes. They at least have to be harboring some kind of emotion about their past lives or desire to release themselves from the shackles of suburban life.

Dirty Grandpa‘s ultimate trespass isn’t being offensive, it’s the gang’s juvenile need to curb its shortcomings. Dragging something out can turn it from bad to worse, and that’s exactly what this does. When you think the joke has finally run its course, it just keeps going. Who would have thought hearing De Niro recite names of members of the Wu-Tang Clan could come off so pedestrian, and dare I say, tired and old? And no, there isn’t a point to that. Not everything is multi-layered and needs thorough analysis.

I apologize for the brevity of the words that lie within, but it’s a task to work harder to write about a film that doesn’t work nearly as hard to entertain. Aubrey Plaza’s trashy character had it right in wanting to be covered with some kind of amoral filth. Too bad that amoral isn’t in right now.

GRADE: F

Sam Cohen

Sam Cohen is that guy you can't have a conversation with without bringing up Michael Mann. He is also incapable of separating himself from his teenage angst (looking at you, Yellowcard). Read on as he tries to formulate words about movies!
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