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Dirty Grandpa

Robert De Niro and Zac Efron come to terms with Dirty Grandpa's mediocrity. Image  ©  Lionsgate

Robert De Niro and Zac Efron come to terms with Dirty Grandpa's mediocrity. Image © Lionsgate

I’m not one of those guys who looks at actors and actresses in the ‘twilight’ of their career and goes ‘eww, why are they doing this movie?  They’re Oscar winners.  Why show up in this?’  

Dude/Dudette, they’re OSCAR winners.  If they want to chill out and do a comedy or mindless action film, then so be it.  If they want to do a movie that takes little effort on their part or one that just seems fun, who are you to judge?  They can do whatever the hell they want.

So I’m not going to say anything derogatory about Robert De Niro starring in Dirty Grandpa.  It looks like filming was fun.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that everyone involved enjoyed themselves.

It’s just a shame that not all of that enjoyment made it into the final product.

Dirty Grandpa is a simple film.  Dick Kelly (De Niro) has just lost his wife of 40 years to cancer.  But he’s been doing his grieving over the last decade as he watched his wife slowly lose the battle, so by the time the funeral is over, he is ready to move on with his life.  Meanwhile, his grandson Jason (Zac Efron) is a young lawyer about to marry his emotional, controlling, self-centered fiance Meredith (Julianne Hough).

Dick decides that he needs to get his grandson out of his comfort zone, so he insists that Jason take him to the family beach house in Florida by using the excuse that he and his recently deceased wife went there every year, and it’s only right that he go one more time.

Of course, they never make it to the house.

What ensues is the usual adult comedy.  They soon encounter a potential love interest for Jason in Shadia (Zoey Deutch), a girl he remembers from college.  Her friend Lenore (Aubrey Plaza) conveniently has a thing for (much) older men.  Their mutual friend Bradley (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) is gay, which makes him a convenient butt of some of Dick’s dirtier jokes.

Also convenient are the dumb jocks hanging out with the girls, because of course we need bad guys.

What I’m trying to say is that everything in this movie is just one big convenience.  Nothing surprising happens, and nothing is unpredictable.  From a scene where Jason wakes up on the beach wearing nothing but a thong to Jason Mantzoukas’ character Pam showing up randomly to make drug jokes, everything can be seen coming from a mile away.

That doesn’t mean this is a bad comedy, it just means that it is incredibly lazy.  This laziness is most visible in the dialog.  Look, I’m not against swearing.  This is the End is my favorite comedy of recent years.  The difference is, that film knew how to use vulgar language to enhance the humor while Dirty Grandpa uses its language as verbal filler.  Fuck is not a comma, guys.  Swearing just because you can isn’t funny, it’s lazy writing.

Granted, there are some genuinely funny scenes in the movie.  There are too many talented comedians for there not to be.  It’s just a shame the filth gets in the way of the funny.

Dirty Grandpa

Starring: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch, Aubrey Plaza, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Hough

Written by: John M. Philips

Directed by: Dan Mazer

Running time: 102 minutes

Taras D. Butrej is the go-to guy for all the movies nobody else wants to see. Some people believe his levels of masochism cannot be measured. When he's not busy being disappointed in the theater he can be found talking video games on The SML Podcast or talking television on YouTube. He also has a job, but that's not important right now.