So I watched Dirty Grandpa…
Comedy is such a fickle beast. Film is already a subjective art but comedy is probably the most subjective genre out of film. I’m always a bit on edge when I watch a comedy because it’s so easy to get it wrong; and even if they get it right – and the movie is hilarious – comedies normally get panned by critics. So they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. I’m starting to respect ‘Comedy’ more and more as a genre because it’s such a difficult thing to make people laugh.
Okay, basic plot: After Jason’s grandmother dies, his grandfather, Richard (Robert De Niro), asks Jason (Zac Efron) if he could drive him to his home in Boca Ranton, Florida. Jason is reluctant, citing that he has too much work to do for his upcoming wedding, and his career as a corporate lawyer. Jason, however, does eventually agree but the quiet, sedate roadtrip he was expecting with his grandpa doesn’t ever materialise. His grandpa is having an end-of-life crisis of sorts and, after being faithful through forty years of marriage, wants to go out there and have as much sex as he can. Jason finds this absolutely disturbing but with every new inappropriate activity his grandpa puts him in, the two men build a bond and Jason remembers what it’s like to let your hair down and follow your passion.
This film’s best asset is definitely Robert De Niro and his limitless commitment to the role. The basis of this film’s comedy is the juxtaposition between the conventional sweet idea of a grandpa against the neverending roll of profanity that De Niro’s character gets involved in. I loved how up for the inappropriateness De Niro was. I like to think of myself as a pretty liberal guy but there were so many times when I caught myself thinking, “WTF did I just see?” This movie is shocking. It’s wildly inappropriate but also wildly entertaining and funny. This isn’t one of those movies to take your parents to or your conservative, religious girlfriend. This is a proper ‘guy’s night’ kind of movie. It produces raucous laughs and a lot of this was because of De Niro’s willingness to let his hair down and be more than a little bit silly.
Zac Efron does well in this movie and he and De Niro have good chemistry. I think Efron was overshadowed by De Niro many times in this movie but, then again, who wouldn’t be? I like the trajectory Efron’s career is taking and when I think of him, I’m thinking more and more of him as a genuine actor rather than a teenage heartthrob – if anything, he’s now an adult heartthrob. There’s the mandatory shirtless-Zac-Efron scene in this movie, actually quite a few; so if you swing that, there’s definitely some eye candy to behold. I wonder if actors like Efron, Channing Tatum, Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Craig have shirtless scenes written into their contracts because it happens far too often to just be a coincidence.
Dan Mazer directs this film and I think he does it with a bit of a heavy hand. The comedy in certain scenes was often diluted because of the way he chose to cut scenes and the angles he chose. It only happens about two times but it was enough for me to notice. Dan Mazer didn’t write this script (John M. Phillips did) but I wonder how much of an influence he had on its eventual final form. Mazer is a longtime partner of Sacha Baron Cohen and this film’s offensive, no holds barred kind of comedy had a similar feeling to one of those productions. No, this film isn’t a satire or social commentary but it had a very politically-incorrect vibe.
Overall, Dirty Grandpa is really funny and also shocking at times. Its humour is almost non-stop and Robert De Niro is phenomenal in whatever role he chooses. Efron did well as De Niro’s partner and I look forward to more films from him. The film does have a cliche story but it is, nevertheless, fun to watch. Go watch this movie but don’t do it with a prude. 7/10