I suppose it’s a bit much to expect a film called Dirty Grandpa to be anything except dirty and about a grandpa. However, despite the fact he’s spent most of the past 20 years phoning it in, it’s difficult not to hold out hope that with Robert De Niro onboard it’s going to be more than just a series of slightly random gross-out jokes and comedy that’s more annoying than funny. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
Jason (Zac Efron) is an uptight lawyer, a week away from marrying an equally uptight woman. It’s also his grandmother’s funeral. He gets roped in to driving his grandfather, Dick (De Niro), to Florida for his annual vacation. However, once on the road, it becomes clear the 72-year-old isn’t intending for a couple of weeks of sun and shuffleboard while reminiscing about his late wife – he wants to get laid and party.
That isn’t what Jason had in mind at all, but soon Dick is dragging him into a series of shenanigans involving accidentally smoking crack, waking up virtually naked on the beach, getting in trouble with the police and having a penis swastika drawn on his forehead. Turns out Dick isn’t just hoping to let loose following the death of his wife and a 15-year drought in his sex life, he’s also worried that Jason isn’t really happy in his buttoned down lawyer life.
Dirty Grandpa wants to be a Judd Apatow-type flick, mixing a load of gross-out humour with a chunk of sentimental emotions. However, it suffers from what many comedies of this ilk do, which is that it often feels more like a series of sketches than a movie. As a lot of those sketches land with a thud or actively work against the emotional arc of the story, there’s a lot more in the movie that doesn’t work than does.
To be fair, some sections are quite fun and when it’s actually telling a story rather than just heaping randomness upon randomness, it suggests it could have been a lot better than it is. De Niro is also often pretty fun as the filthy septuagenarian, although the fact the film gets him to do the same shtick over and over again does mean it starts to outstay its welcome.
There are also far too many things that don’t actually make any sense, where you have to actively beat your brain into submission in order not to feel that the writers and directors think the viewer is a complete moron. Either that, or you can get arrested in Florida for being a paedophile and then everyone completely forgets about it the moment you post bail.
Of course, for those who like a bit of man flesh, there’s Zac Efron and quite a few other buff guys with their shirts off. Efron certainly spends plenty of time allowing us to see quite how much time he’s spent in the gym, by wearing very little, showing off his booty and generally acting in a way that if he was a woman we’d probably be screaming about the terrible objectification. However, if you like a bit of Efron eye candy, it certainly helps liven up what is otherwise often a very annoying and only intermittently entertaining movie. Indeed, it’s just about the best thing about the movie.
Overall Verdict: Dirty Grandpa feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. Efron & De Niro give it their all and the movie keeps hinting at being something a lot better than it actually is. However, if the only thing you want is a grandpa being dirty, it does certainly manage that.
The Blu-ray includes an Extended Cut of the film, but it can’t be said that it helps at all.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac
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Audio Commentary featuring writer John Phillips, director Dan Mazer and producer Michael Simkin