by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer
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As I’ve said many times before, the first month of the year seems to be the dumping ground for films studios don’t know what to do with or don’t have any faith in. Once in a while you get a decent film that surprises you. Dirty Grandpa is not that film.
The film’s plot is about as deep as an inflatable kiddie pool. Recent widower Dick Kelly (Robert DeNiro) cons his grandson Jason (Zac Efron) into driving him to Boca Raton mere days after his wife’s funeral. On the way the randy old man makes the duo detour to Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale, where the elder Kelly is hoping to get physical with a least one young lady at least three time younger than him.
What ensues are a series of embarrassing jokes in which DeNiro frequently emasculates Efron with references to his car being female genitalia or by consistently trying to jam his thumb up his younger co-star’s rear end. When the film pretty much starts out with Efron walking in on DeNiro taking “physical liberties” with himself the day after the aforementioned grandmother’s funeral, you know what kind of film you’re getting into.
The script is about as basic and crude as possible and not in a good way. Apparently screenwriter John M. Philips had the idea that getting the titular grandpa of the film drop enough F-bombs that Martin Scorsese would blush was the best form of comedy. But that’s not all. We get misunderstood possible child molestation, DeNiro dropping racial and homophobic slurs like it’s a Trump rally and Aubrey Plaza as a hypersexualized Spring Breaker who is basically one giant double entendre.
And the word “cliché” comes to mind about ten minutes in. Nagging fiancée? Check. Upcoming nuptials of the
younger part of the road tripping duo that look to be compromised by said road trip? Yup. Embarrassing misunderstanding when meeting with family members and local clergy? You betcha! It’s hard to believe that this was actually on the Blacklist of best unmade scripts back in 2011.
The only sparingly funny moments were of Jason Mantzoukas as surf shop owner / local drug dealer Pam. His character is 100% what we saw him do on FX’s The League, but it works so I’ll take it.
DeNiro has been in much funnier fare than this. Efron was making a bit of name for himself in the R-rated comedy world with 2014’s Neighbors, but this was a major dip in quality. Hopefully the young actor has a resurgence when the Neighbors sequel hits theaters in a few months.
Until then, this is one Dirty Grandpa that should have stuck to sitting on his rocking chair on the front porch.