Robert de Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch
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For tasteless fun, you could probably do worse.
Dirty Grandpa poses the question: just how dirty can one grandpa be? The answer proves variable. On the one hand, it would be difficult to declaim outright Robert De Niro’s vulgarity, his potty mouth, or even, that the film is not overly vulgar. In what could easily be renamed Horny Grandpa, or Sexually Frank Grandpa, the film hinges on the solipsistic idea that libido in the elderly is somehow outrageous and hence, dirty. Whereas, in any number of gross-out comedies populated by twenty-somethings – say Porky’s or American Pie – his behaviour would be considered less an aberration than it would be the product of a healthy sex-drive.
Furthermore, to hear De Niro shouting obscenities is neither surprising nor shocking. Pick a few of his films at random – Raging Bull, Casino, This Boy’s Life – and you’ve heard worse. What worked well about De Niro’s comedic turn in Meet The Parents was that he played against type as a straight-laced, upstanding conservative, but here his schtick is routinely familiar. Because it’s familiar, it then fails the novelty of the premise – old person acting foul.
The plot as well is routine fodder. Jason, an uptight, under the thumb copyright lawyer (Zac Efron) is set to marry his domineering fiancé Meredith (Julianne Hough) when he takes off on a road trip with his newly widowed grandpa Dick (De Niro.) They arrive at spring break in Daytona where they party hard and Jason connects with the true love of his life, Shadia (Zoey Deutch), whom he had known in college. Subsequently, Dick encourages Jason to cut loose, lose his pretensions, and pursue the girl of his dreams, with riotous consequences involving an off the hook drug dealer (Jason Mantzoukas) and a young woman named Lenore (Aubrey Plaza) with a fetish for old people.
The main problem with Dirty Grandpa is that, despite a few chuckles, it isn’t overly funny. Its deficiency is in believing that outrageousness equals comedy instead of wit. What it does possess however is entertainment value. For tasteless fun, you could probably do worse.