Year of release: 2016
Length: 102 minutes
Main Cast: Zac Efron
Robert De Nero
Directed by: Dan Mazer
Distributed by: Lionsgate
There is a popular metaphor that when someone gives all their effort into something and massively succeeds they are said to be “swinging for the fences”. If this movie was swinging for the fences they were not hitting it out of the park, they were conceding foul balls and strikes. If I were to describe Dirty Grandpa it would be a mix between the films Bad Neighbors and Bad Santa but with a lack of comedy. Robert De Nero and Zac Efron play Dick and Jason Kelly in a film that had a predictable plot, a premise that is used as an excuse for the “comedy”, awful dialogue and very few laughs. This is a low for director Dan Mazer because given his past films; he can certainly direct better films than this. This film is pure cinematic torture.
The premise is Dick’s wife has died and she wanted him to move on with his life a find another significant other. Jason is the grandson of Dick (Efron) who is working in law and planning to get married to a control freak of a wife. Jason takes his grandpa to Florida at his grandfather’s request. Dick is intending to kill two birds with one stone on the road trip by bonding with the grandson he neglected for years and getting laid by a college girl, both through partying and getting wasted.
It is very clear from the outset this film is meant to deliver belly laughs instead of the little giggles and subtle laughs. The opening scene attests to that fact because the gags are outrageously over-the-top and bad. The opening scene is funeral for Jack’s Grandmother. These are some of the gags from scene one:
- Jack’s cousin Nick describes his job as a dog breeder to guests and describes the sexual action from his dogs with attention to detail to any of the guests.
- Nick smokes a joint and blows smoke directly at a photo-frame of Jack’s grandmother
- Jack’s wife is on her smartphone and asks Jack what colour tie he wants for the wedding (orange or salmon) during the eulogy of his grandmother’s funeral.
When I saw this movie there was half a laugh coming from a different person per gag. That is about how good it got in terms of audience reaction. No laughs coming from most or even half of the audience, no belly laughs or anything like that and I don’t blame the audience for that at all. It’s the lack of decent humor in the film.
Another major problem was the scriptwriting and its excessive use of the word fuck. They used it needlessly and so much with absolutely no comic effect whatsoever. This film uses it 162 times according to Wikipedia and it did not really make a bad joke funny, as a matter of fact, I was so desensitized by it halfway through I started getting tired and board when any of the characters ranted (particularly De Nero’s). The more and more this film goes on it gets worse and worse. There are characters in this film that are so immoral or unbelievable that I could really get into the mood watching it.
There is also backstory about why Dick neglected his children and grandchildren but with the majority of the film he is so vulgar about nearly everything no one should really care. There are also a couple of cliché story conventions that made the film so predictable that anyone could see what was coming a mile away. The film then plods along with unfunny gag after unfunny gag until the conclusion. At 102 minutes in length, any comedy would run into overstaying their welcome but for Dirty Grandpa, it overstayed it’s welcome after 20 minutes.
Dirty Grandpa offers so much given the history of director Dan Mazer and Actors Robert DeNero and Zac Efron yet they deliver less than nothing. In this context nothing means a lack of humour and less then nothing means feeling gross, annoyed and offended by how this abomination of a film was executed. I was going to give it a DUD initially but as I was writing this review the more I thinking about it and it was worse than I initially thought. It is not so bad as to be considered for being one of the worst films of all time, but will undoubtedly be a candidate for many movie-goers as one of the worst films of 2016 -**1/2