By Christian DiMartino
There comes a scene near the end of Dirty Grandpa in which two trucks nearly crash into each other, and truth is, I was rooting for them to go all the way.
Robert De Niro can be funny, and yet he can phone it in. He’s obviously a legend in his own right, but a lot of his later roles have felt lazy and uninspired. Even though I didn’t expect much from Dirty Grandpa, I did think the idea of De Niro as a foul-mouthed grandpa could be fun, if it was done right. Sadly, it isn’t.
Occasionally, I could sense a twinkle of what might’ve been a funny movie. However, this is not the case. I love a good, mean, “dirty” comedy, but Dirty Grandpa is a film in which it tries to hard to be those things, to the point where it’s lame and misses its marks. It also goes soft and gooey near the end. It wants to be dirty, and it wants to be clean. It should’ve stopped in the middle.
I feared this film was doomed for a number of reasons. One, it’s in January. Two, it’s plot just feels as old and flabby as Val Kilmer’s tits. Three, the trailers didn’t sell it well. Four, I knew just what kind of “comedy” I was walking into, and my fears came to life within five minutes, in which a drunken, bizarre cousin says a bunch of obnoxious, unfunny, and crude things at a funeral. Sadly, that’s what a lot of the humor is here. It’s like everyone is trying to top each other in outrageousness, and it just doesn’t work.
The film opens at this funeral, roughly, if I didn’t mention. Dick Kelly (De Niro) has just lost his wife. So he ends up pressuring his grandson, Jason (Zac Efron) into taking him to Florida. Jason is a lawyer, and is engaged to an uptight loon named Meredith (Julianne Hough). You know just where their relationship is going from this opening five minutes, and the elements become even more predictable as the “story” unfolds.
Anyways, Dick and Jason set off for Florida, and along the way, Jason runs into a former classmate (Zoey Deutch), a horny babe (Aubrey Plaza) with the hots for gramps, and a gay guy, who is mocked from the second we see him. Let it begin. The rest of the film follows the duo as they party, smoke crack, and so on.
This is a film that wants to accomplish what Bad Santa did for us roughly 13 years ago, and its attempts never work. It’s naughty, yes, but the laughs are never nice. In fact, the laughs are fairly scarce, and feel far too obvious. Really, dick, vagina, and sex jokes can only go so far. This is a film that is convinced it can live off of them, and really, they don’t even start out the right way.
It’s entertaining, I suppose, and the plot seems a bit more involving than the recent Tina Fey outing Sisters. Which is why I’m surprised that it’s worse. Sisters wasn’t very funny, but I feel like a lot of that material was just dead air. This film, however, has jokes that fall flat on its fat ass. It tells a tale that we’ve seen far too much before. It’s also kind of like that guy who loves to tell the same joke over and over again, but he doesn’t really realize it wasn’t funny to begin with.
There are things here I won’t forget, and yet there’s things I wish I could forget. I won’t forget De Niro yelling, “I want to f**k f**k f**k f**k f**k.” I also won’t forget De Niro’s dick, or Efron’s ass, and boy, I wish I could. It is also just ridiculous to see the film go soft near the end. I don’t know what the hell they were trying to do, but it certainly didn’t work. It just felt forced, stupid, and it sort of defeats the purpose of what the whole film was trying to be. Not that what it was trying to be was anything good, but this soft touch didn’t help its case.
I’ve only seen three films from 2016 so far, and two of them sucked. Looks like the year is off to a tremendous start.