Dirty Grandpa Plot Summary:
After his wife dies, Dick Kelly (Robert De Niro) drags his grandson (Zac Efron) to Florida, only to trick him into going to Daytona in an effort to change his mundane life and impending marriage in this raunchy, alcohol filled adventure.
If this movie had come out in another time, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. Yes. I like Dirty Grandpa. This is a movie that’s not supposed to happen anymore. In our overly politically correct world, this movie breaks all the rules. It rags on African Americans. Gay people. The Jewish religion. Deaf people. People with voice boxes. It leaves no stone unturned. It even takes multiple shots at fat people! They make light of gun violence. It’s like the screenwriter (John Phillips) sat down and said, “What will piss people off the most,” and wrote it down. It’s relentless. Crude. Crass. Offensive. Nasty. The F word is used like it’s a form of breathing. There is no filter. It’s as horrible as you can imagine. But you know what else it is? Kind of funny.
The script is okay on paper, but a bad cast could have easily made this one of the worst movies of the year. This works because they fully commit to the material with no fear. The things they have Robert De Niro say and do will make you squirm, but it’s probably one of his better roles in the last few years, sadly. Dick Kelly is an out of control sex crazed foul mouthed old geezer who causes mayhem and mischief every where he goes. De Niro is hilarious. He goes on these rants towards his weeny-like grandson, and you can’t help but get true gut laughs. It’s a disgusting character, but I much prefer De Niro taking chances like this instead of those garbage Focker movies.
Speaking of the weeny grandson, enter Zac Efron. He doesn’t do much in the first twenty minutes. He’s the standard tight ass. It’s not until Grandpa rubs off on him does Efron become really damn funny. Not so much in how he lets loose, but it’s seeing Efron in the aftermath from a night of partying where they deliver some truly great gags. Watching this guy’s life unravel is high comedy, and Efron delivers ten fold. They even use his singing skills to great comedic effect. While these aren’t exactly the most stable human beings, there is a genuine chemistry between De Niro and Efron. As sick and twisted as this movie is, when they get into the “dramatic” stuff, you buy it to some extent. Although, this is one Grandpa I wouldn’t take life lessons from.
There’s also plenty of solid supporting characters. Efron’s character develops a relationship with Zoey Deutch, and that works fine. There’s also a series of oddball characters, including a couple cops, played by Henry Zebrowski and Mo Collins, who are just as gross and warped as everyone else is. They go on spring break, so of course we get the obligatory frat boys, played by Jake Picking and Michael Hudson. One of them is actually called “Brah.” Jason Mantzoukas pops in and out, and is usually good for a chuckle. If you don’t know who Jason Mantzoukas is, you’ve seen him before, trust me. He’s Rafi from The League, and Dennis Feinstein from Parks and Recreation. Speaking of Parks and Recreation, the biggest standout in this movie might be Aubrey Plaza. Wow. She is absolutely hysterical. Even the most ardent hater of this movie has to find her funny. She’s a great foil for Robert De Niro. It’s time she led her own comedy. Get this actress a great script, and she will deliver comedic gold.
I’m not going to pretend like this isn’t filled with cheap jokes. There’s literally a scene where the man child cousin (Adam Pally) goes down a row of people and offends them. What can I tell you though, the comic timing works. And while there are plenty of shock and sex gags, they work better than in so many other comedies we see today. They are quick. They do the gag, and get out. It’s not like in last year’s putrid Vacation, where there’s a pubic hair joke that is painfully endless. There’s also a hilarious sex scene towards the end, even if it is a bit cartoonish.
Now that I’ve given a positive review to Dirty Grandpa, I can probably never run for President, but I have to be honest with myself, even if it’s sort of embarrassing. It’s certainly not perfect. There are plenty of lulls, and times where jokes fall flat. I don’t want to make this out to be some new comedic classic that I’ll be watching several more times, but it’s solid. It takes chances, unlike the lazy, forgettable crap that is Ride Along 2 or Neighbors. Maybe this movie just hit me at the right time, I don’t know. I feel dirty though, as this director (Dan Mazer) has been heavily involved in a lot of Sacha Baron Cohen comedies (shudder). If you go to this movie based on my recommendation, I just want to heed this warning – you will be offended. You will say several times over, “I can’t believe they did that.” You will shake your head in disgust. But, you might also laugh.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.