Two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro and two-time MTV Movie Award for Best Shirtless Performance winner Zac Efron together for a road trip. Literally the film every human has been clamoring for since Efron burst onto the scene in 2006.
“Dirty Grandpa” stars De Niro and Efron as a grandfather and grandson (I’ll let you figure out who’s in what role) who head to Daytona Beach for spring break to party despite De Niro’s wife having just passed and Efron getting married in a week. Dan Mazer directs.
Aside from “Silver Linings Playbook” Robert De Niro really hasn’t taken on any serious acting roles in the past decade and that does not change here. Meanwhile Zac Efron shattered his perceived clean Disney Kid image with 2014’s “Neighbors,” and he continues to show that he can entertain and is more than a pretty face (whether he will ever be taken seriously as an actor is a question for another day). So their odd couple pairing may seem like a strange selection but it is what you come for and why you stay in “Dirty Grandpa.”
Really how much you enjoy “Dirty Grandpa” is going to depend on if you come to a comedy simply to laugh and be entertained. If you only care about having a smile on your face and enjoying yourself then there’s probably enough in this movie to make it worth your while. There are a handful of laugh-out-loud moments including one that actually had me in tears and rolling around in my chair. So if you don’t care about plot and originality and all that then fly, be free. “Dirty Grandpa” will get the job done. If you like movies to have substance then LOL, let’s talk about that.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: uptight 20-something guy with a corporate job and a fiancé who clearly does not truly love him doesn’t realize what he’s doing wrong with his life until a free spirit friend forces him go out and party where he meets a cool girl who makes him rethink his life’s path (you should’ve stopped me at “uptight”). You know exactly where this movie is going, and it makes no attempts to throw any curveballs, so take that for what it’s worth.
In fact, think of this movie if it didn’t have 72-year-old De Niro as one of the two leads. Picture it was two 25-year-olds going to Daytona Beach and trying to get with girls. Would you care? No, because you’ve seen it before. And the movie makes sure you keep remembering that “it’s funny because De Niro is old!”
One of the film’s weakest aspects is De Niro’s motivation to get with a college girl who has an old man fetish (Aubrey Plaza). Most all of Plaza’s jokes are one-note and telegraphed and just don’t work, and in fact at times are cringe-worthy how flat they fall. I was more invested in Efron’s conflicted relationship with Zoey Deutch, and those are the moments of the film that feel most genuine.
Look, if Robert De Niro rapping the n-word and making 100 penis jokes is your thing, then “Dirty Grandpa” is your “Citizen Kane.” If you just want to have a breezy film with two charming leads then this should do the trick. But if you wanted a comedy gem to wash the bad taste out of your mouth left by “Daddy’s Home” or “Ride Along 2” then you’ll have to wait a little longer. So pick which one of those camps you are in and go see, or don’t see, “Dirty Grandpa.”
Critics Rating: 5/10