The topless 72-year-old acting legend that is Robert De Niro weightlifting the also topless High School Musical legend Zac Efron is one way of attracting audiences, as is having a young man disturbingly watch his granddad sensually put on stockings. Channelling its inner Graduate, Dirty Grandpa attracted me precisely because of the joy of witnessing a timeless legend exceedingly out of his comfort zone. But Dirty Grandpa’s marketing campaign is merely a disguise for how such a poorly conceived idea can be masqueraded through the deviously misguided use of legendary material.
With a decent cast at its command and a sexual viewpoint of everything, it’s a shame the script cowardly produces a clichéd story that recycles teen film traits to a tedious standard. The characters are forced to places we’ve all seen before, like a beach full of half-naked bods, but this time the great Robert De Niro is placed in the midst of all these juvenile fluids. Some of Dirty Grandpa can only be described as inexplicable, like when De Niro is caught masturbating to interracial porn. The film truly descends into disgrace because it just wants to be as lewd as possible to see if the audience can find it entertaining. At times though, we are literally in the same frame of mind Efron is at the start; stunned by literally everything we see and traumatized by De Niro’s crude slump.
It is such a tonally uneven film that it has the audacity to try and find room for some heart despite deciding to favour crassness for over an hour. Dirty Grandpa begins with an unfavourable mixture of morose stupidity, then transforms into an over the top erotic escapade, and when this gets numbingly repetitive, returns to an opening melancholic tone, trying to convince us that this has been a ruse to alleviate Efron’s dreary future. De Niro, quite fittingly titled Dick, is sexually out of control for his age, but when it comes to the film’s turning point he transforms into a gentleman, looking out for his grandson… It just doesn’t make much sense!
There are so many strange bits and pieces merged together under the theme of sex that its flaws stand out even more transparently. From the overbearing fiancé, to the sexual fiend of a grandpa, his Special Forces past, the karaoke-rapping nonsense, idiotic jocks, a cock-hungry female in Aubrey Plaza and the highly unfunny running gag of De Niro constantly poking Efron’s butthole to no avail, Dirty Grandpa is an undoubtedly eccentric mixture; but what a strange one it is. Dirty Grandpa could be a contender for one of the worst movies of the year already, a likelihood only made worse by Jason Mantzoukas’ Greek shop owner/drug dealer who has no laws to worry about, and no place or purpose in this film whatsoever.
Dirty Grandpa is so overly entrenched in sex gags that become funny because they are delivered to us through the highly acclaimed Robert De Niro; they are just way too exaggerated and out of place, however, whenever a young’un does it, particularly Aubrey Plaza, whose sexual aggression has somehow managed to transform her attraction into repulsion. She is so profanely suggestive that she easily raises the level of lewdness to the point of total embarrassment, a sentiment furthered by Julianne Hough’s terrifying creation of a fiancé. But, Dirty Grandpa deserves praise for providing something different, which is to see a respected actor delve into such shameful territory. Its only inkling of joy is through De Niro’s comic execution and Efron’s constant victimising, but other than that it’s comically inept. There’s a fine line between actual comedy and trying too hard to be funny, but Dirty Grandpa doesn’t know which line is which unfortunately. Efron needs to just move on from teen movies already, and De Niro… (sigh)
It’s undeniably funny to watch him in shockingly overblown, dirty action at the start, because that’s what the title imparts, but after this dies out, you begin to think, why has De Niro gone and done this to himself? Perhaps the money was just too good to refuse, he wanted to work with teen movie veteran Zac Efron, get to chant “party ‘till you’re pregnant,” tarnish his well-respected career or, quite simply, because he heard Aubrey Plaza was his ‘love interest’ and just wanted to “f***”. Dirty Grandpa is an orgy of full frontal obscenity, outrageously never breaking its salacious stride even when the initial shock factor transforms into heinous filth.
Dirty Grandpa is a terribly made film that cannot produce a decent thought-out sexual joke. That’s why it needs Robert De Niro there… I don’t know if, by the end, that’s a good thing though!
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Images from ‘Dirty Grandpa’, Lionsgate