Dirty Grandpa (Dir. Dan Mazer)

Posted: February 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

“Dirty Grandpa” is a film that thinks having Robert DeNiro say vulgar things is the height of comedy. They don’t have to be funny and vulgar, just vulgar. This is also a film where Robert DeNiro is shown masturbating to porn, a tissue box blocking his penis from frame but otherwise nude reclining in a La-Z-Boy, while his grandson (Zac Efron) walks in. The presence of his grandson is not greeted with embarrassment, or even stopping the masturbating.  Unless Robert DeNiro is in a level of Nic Cage debt that has previously gone unreported, I have no idea why he would agree to make this film.


The film is simply not funny.  It is edited in such a sharp and sloppy way that even lines or scenes that could potentially, or at least theoretically, be funny are not. You know how in many Judd Apatow films he’ll have his actors improve different lines, and he’ll leave maybe 3-4 of those improvs in the finished film? “Dirty Grandpa” does that too, except the improvs are not funny, and they feel awkward.  This is also a film where the characters do not act in a manner in which normal human beings would ever act.  Imagine you are a woman who is calling your fiancé on Facetime. With you are your future in-laws and a rabbi. When your fiancé appears on camera, he has a swastika made up of penises drawn on his forehead.  What would your reaction be? I assure you, that reaction is not the reaction of the characters in this film.


The plot, such as it is, is simple. DeNiro’s wife has died, and not that he’s single he wants to have unprotected sex with college girls. His grandson, Efron, is enlisted to drive him down to Florida for the ostensible reason of fulfilling an annual tradition DeNiro had with his wife.  However, Efron is set to marry his fiancé, Meredith (Julianne Hough) in a few days. Meredith is a controlling, superficial, manipulative person. The film gives her no redeeming qualities.  On the drive down they run into a former classmate of Efron’s, Shadia (Zoey Deutch), who the film makes clear likes Efron and who is a better match for Efron. Also with Shadia is Lenore, who is played by Aubrey Plaza and is the only decent thing in this film. Lenore is an extremely exaggerated portrayal of a very horny girl who likes older men. It’s clear Aubrey Plaza was having fun with this character, and if she had not already done a far better raunchy comedy a few years ago called “The To-Do List” perhaps I would have appreciated her more. Plaza finds a way of making this character so cartoonishly sex-crazy without making her seem pejoratively slutty. I don’t know how, but she pulls it off. She’s the one thing that leaves this film unscathed. In any event, Lenore wants to fuck DeNiro, DeNiro wants to fuck Lenore, and things keep getting in the way.


Upon running into Shadia and Lenore, DeNiro and Efron’s plans change and they head to Spring Break at Daytona Beach.  This results in multiple arrests, accidental crack usage, a misunderstanding about child molestation involving a stuffed bee on Efron’s crotch, and more manic and unfunny sequences.  There are some attempts at satire, like having two police characters who are so corrupt that the film is obviously trying to make a point about how cops during Spring Break look the other way on crimes related to drunkenness and partying because of the economic benefit Spring Break brings to the area for that week, but the cops are so ridiculously over-the-top that they don’t fit the tone of the film and it comes off as unfunny, forced, and weird.


“Dirty Grandpa” was directed by Dan Mazar, who is mostly known as the co-writer of many of Sacha Baron Cohen’s films, like “Ali G Indahouse”, “Borat”, and “Bruno”.  I like all of those films (even “Bruno”), but Mazar didn’t write “Dirty Grandpa” and he sure as shit can’t seem to direct or edit a film in a way that makes things funny. This film is aggressively unfunny. Granted, it looks like the cast had fun while they were making it, but the only fun to be had in watching it is schadenfreude at how low DeNiro’s career has gotten in recent years, especially if you ignore his work with David O. Russell.  Well, Aubrey Plaza in a thong isn’t too bad either, but it’s not worth the price of admission or sitting through 102 minutes of this crap. D+


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