Just Baffling: A Review of ‘Dirty Grandpa’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - January 22, 2016
Just Baffling: A Review of ‘Dirty Grandpa’

It’s not often that a pundit gets rendered speechless.  Dirty Grandpa defies any sort of conventional rating as it is a 100 min exercise in jokes that either isn’t funny or just downright offensive to the point that it just makes you kind of sad because everyone involved is trying so damn hard to be as horrible as they possibly can.

Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is a young lawyer with a future who is just one week away from marrying his bosses beautiful but high maintenance daughter (Julianne Hough).  Jason is a straight laced kid who has done everything right, including drive his grandpa; Dick Kelly (Robert De Niro) down to Boca after the death of his wife/Jason’s grandmother after a long battle with cancer, however little does Jason know that Dick has some very different plans and they end up in Daytona Beach for Spring Break.  Trying to keep his nuptials on the rails as he learns more about his grandpa then he ever expected in the middle of wild frat parties, bar fights, epic karaoke, Jason gets a lesson from his grandpa about living life to the fullest and rediscovering the bond that they both had together so many years ago.


Sure, there is actually a nice message in here, but it aims so goddamn low in every aspect of its story telling it makes you wonder if it was just an excuse from everyone involved to go an fuck around for a few weeks while cashing the kind of check that most people will never see in their life time.

Coming off of the Da Ali G Show and the reasonably solid I Give It A Year, director Dan Mazar feels like he is on autopilot as the narrative and script from first time screenwriter Dan Phillips flails aimlessly with no direction.  The movie just goes from gonzo set up, to gonzo set up and it never works.  This movie is just offensive, I love some off color humor as much as the next guy, but just being horrible…isn’t funny…AT ALL.  It’s a string of set-ups and gags to put these characters in the most ridiculous scenarios possible.  Yeah, it’s a funny premise, but the script needs to have dirty-grandpa-red-band-trailer-pica little bit of meat to it or everyone involved will just be overacting through the motions of it all.

I’ll begrudgingly admit, that seeing DeNiro as a septuagenarian horn dog is kind of funny and Zac Efron has an affable charm settling into the frat boy comedy type of role but they don’t have a thing to work with…I mean anything.  Jokes about thumbs up the butt, and wondering if it is OK for DeNiro’s character to say the N-word when they befriend a gang after a confrontation at a club just isn’t comedy.  It feels like Aubrey Plaza may have taken this job as just an exercise in absurdity and everyone else involved really doesn’t even deserve any kind of mention.

Ultimately, this is one of those rare movies that I just can’t give a traditional grade to.  Dirty Grandpa aims at an incredibly low bar, and manages to go even lower than the perceived bottom.  I should have been mad at the end of this film, but was just stunned that actually got made in the first place.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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