How long does grieving over a soulmate take? Not long if you’re ready to bone. Retired Army General Dick Kelly (Robert De Niro) has just lost his wife of about 40 years to cancer. Most in his family are worried about him, including his grandson, Jason (Zac Efron), a young lawyer who specializes in “LSC agreements and SEC contracts.” Or something like that. Jason’s also a week away from getting married to Meredith (Julianne Hough), who is something of a control freak, but still so perfect for Jason.
Dick and his wife always used to go to Florida around a specific time in the year, and that isn’t changing with her no longer on this Earth. Only issue is, Dick doesn’t have a license, and convinces Jason to drive him. Reluctant, he does so, thinking that Gramps just needs to do this as part of the grieving process. Turns out, this is no grieving trip. Gramps is a Dirty Grandpa, looking to have the single fun he wasn’t afforded when in a union. In the process of trying to hook up with women as young as Jason, Dick hopes to show his grandson that it is never too late to live a little.
It is acceptance that the months of January and February, known as Dumpuary in some corners, must feature a few stink bombs released in cinemas amid the award hopefuls and previous year holdovers. In 2016 Dumpuary, Dirty Grandpa is one of those stink bombs.
Not all is deplorable, though. With a name like Dirty Grandpa, no confusion is had as to what is to be expected. In fact, yours truly would say that the ‘Dirty’ part in the title doesn’t encapsulate just how crass, blunt, and simple-minded this movie is. OK, that sounded like a huge negative, but in a way…it is sort of a positive. Director Dan Mazer (Da Ali G Show, writer of Borat) certainly has no shame/fear in potentially offending a lot of groups. Every bit of the R rating is utilized and not gone to waste, if that sort of thing counts.
However, using every bit of the R rating does no good if your comedy isn’t funny. Dirty Grandpa struggles to build substantial momentum in the laugh department, and there just isn’t one scene that is standout or ball-busting with the humor. There are a few scenes worth some chuckles, but with little consistency, the crassness begins to feel like cheap laziness at shock value, hoping that it alone will spark some laughs. It doesn’t help that the story and its endgame is seen about 10 minutes in, a love child of The Hangover, The Wedding Ringer, and any road trip movie (for the hell of it, let’s say Sex Drive) ever seen.
Some chemistry is forged with Zac Efron and Robert De Niro, and these two do serve as the highest points of a low flick. Efron isn’t all that different from most of his adult roles, and I’m sure that many scenes he has in this will become gif-ed to the end of time appearing on women’s Pinterest and Tumblr walls. But as he’s shown recently, he has no issue being the butt of jokes. And as the straight man here, he’s privy to tons of them. It is a shame that the writing is so shoddy, because he and De Niro do try hard. Make no mistake, if this aint the rear of De Niro’s filmography, it is close. Still, it does seem like Robert is having fun with the role, and as such, even with the material is falling flat, he draws some enjoyment out of things.
With their chemistry relatively strong, it would have been better to rely on the duo more. Because, Dirty Grandpa may feature the worst cast of supporting characters to appear in a comedy in quite some time, from Aubrey Plaza (horny co-ed), to Julianne Hough (uptight fiancée) and Adam Pally (stoned cousin). They are all unfunny, but they pale in comparison to Jason Mantzoukas, playing a character of “Tan-Pam.” He’s dull as soon as he appears on the screen, and sadly, he stays on the screen way too much.
Despite its stars’ efforts, Dirty Grandpa has little comedic vitality, and no amount of Viagra, Efron, or De Niro can change that. Not worth venturing out of the home into Snowmageddon 2016 to view this.
Photo credits go to maxim.com, aceshowbiz.com,and filmonic.com.
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