Dirty Grandpa (2016)

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A dumb fucking exercise in bad taste and dumbassery that is almost thrilling in it’s total lack of restraint, craft and intelligence. Dirty Grandpa never ceases to be entertaining. Even bad films can be fun. But can all stupid career choices be forgiven? I wonder what De Niro saw in this script that made him think “hey, this sounds like fun”. He’s always been drawn to comedy but never in my life did I expect Bobby to be fascinated by the idea of endlessly shoving his thumb up Zac Efron’s ass.

Now I could sit here and get pissed off and lament “WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO ROBERT DE NIRO?!” but the truth is, our man Bobby is actually great in this role. The problem isn’t him necessarily, it’s just that the material is a fucking bore. De Niro never stopped being a great actor and he never really stopped being in good movies, it’s just that you have to wonder why, in God’s name, is America’s greatest living actor doing this fucking drivel? Does he have a bunch of teenage kids or nephews who love Adam Sandler movies and douchebag comedies? If so, fair enough. If not, then why? Maybe we’ll never know.

It’s not just De Niro who seems to be slumming it either. Zac Efron feels miscast but I admire his desire to play a bit of a sad sack. The only problem is he’s a sad sack with the body of a greek God so it never quite gels. Maybe they went to Paul Dano first but he turned them down? Aubrey Plaza too feels like she should be spending her time on something more worthwhile. She plays the skank to end all skanks here, an honor I’m sure the filmmakers were aiming for given her atrocious dialogue but the role never really comes across as self-aware than it does stupid and infuriating. Danny Glover is also along for the ride, briefly, along with Jason Mantzoukas, Dermot Mulroney (hey, I actually buy him as De Niro’s son!) and Everybody Wants Some‘s Zooey Deutch. In short: lots of talent wasted.

Maybe Dirty Grandpa will get a cult following as the years go by. I can certainly see myself revisiting it and it’s not something I’ll forget anytime soon. That stands for something I guess. There is a sense of maximalist dirtiness and stupidity that would be completely enjoyable if the material had any suggestion of deeper intelligence, but it rarely does.

In closing, I’d like to quote my favourite joke from the Dirty Grandpa himself. In the movie’s final act, during the point when the flawed character usually bestows some wisdom to the hero, De Niro instead offers this bit of advice to the bemused Efron:

“Back in the 80s, when Andre the Giant used to go to the Playboy mansion, he’d stack five playmates on top of each other on a bed and fingerfuck them all. Five at a time, because his hands were so big”

I wonder what Scorsese thought when he saw this movie.

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