Many people would agree that Zac Efron is a talented lad but maybe that he just needs a better agent as his film choices have been poor in recent years. I somewhat agree with this but I’ve actually found myself enjoying some of his recent films where others have failed to. The likes of ‘Bad Neighbours’ and ‘We Are Your Friends’ weren’t wholly received positively, especially the latter, but I think that both are likeable enough. Therefore I wasn’t hugely skeptical about ‘Dirty Grandpa’ and I thought it could pass as being somewhat enjoyable if nothing else. I’m afraid though after seeing this movie I now sing from the same song sheet as those critics of Efron’s choices of roles.
This comedy certainly lives up to its title in being ‘dirty’ as around ninety percent of the humour comes in very immature forms with explicit material used in an attempt for laughs. Personally this type of humour rarely lands with me, it can work in small doses but when it is the focus it quickly becomes unappealing and even distasteful. I can’t criticise the film for doing this though as it’s clearly the intention here and there is an audience for this type of humour, it just ain’t for me. As well as this immature comedy I’d say the remaining ten percent of the gags are just dumb or stupid humour which never transpired particularly well. There were two or three characters who embodied this humour and it just never really worked which meant that these characters quickly became irritating. I’ll admit that on a few occasions during the film the script surprises the audience with some actual comedy which is always welcome however, it rarely lasts for entire sequences but rather it comes and goes within a line. The comedy isn’t ever consistent but it’s outrageous nature keeps you from becoming bored but at the same time never really entertains which ends up being neither positive or negative I suppose.
Alongside Zac Efron the film also stars acting legend Robert De Niro as the title character, the dirty grandpa. These leads are always good and they do put their all into these characters however the material here was never going to stretch either actor or provoke any spectacular performance wise. I can’t work out if this was really sad to see De Niro play such a vulgar and unfunny character as he did in this pretty awful comedy, or if it’s cool to see him relax a bit more and have more fun playing a less serious roles. Sure he’s had his day of Goodfellas and The Godfather so why not get involved in some more mass market movies, sure I think it worked pretty well in ‘The Intern’. I feel though my arguments for De Niro taking the role to be involved in a more fun project are only efforts to mask my disappointment of seeing him in such a bad movie. It’s not just the comedy that doesn’t work though the seemingly essential drama that all comedies these days feature was dreadful. First off its so painfully predictable that you’ll be able to finish the plot in your head before it’s even started. Secondly though when the drama becomes the main focus of the film in the final third of the movie you’ll begin to lose the will to continue watching as the whole movie instantly becomes boring at an alarming rate.
So whilst Efron and De Niro are as likeable as they can be they can’t rescue this painfully unfunny comedy from it’s crude and immature nature which for me doomed it before it began. The drama element is a non starter which only makes the largely laugh less comedy more unbearable. Having reflected on the film though I think the worst thing about it is seeing Robert De Niro stoop so low, he’s better than this, so much better.
Rating – 3/10
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