I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during the pitch meeting with DeNiro for “Dirty Grandpa”: “And so Efron comes to pick you up, and you’re lying there on your recliner masturbating in the nude to interracial porn! He screams in horror while you’re ejaculating, but you’re so cool about it, that you barely acknowledge the awkwardness. The kids will love it!” I appreciate that Robert DeNiro seems to be actively working against being typecast as some wise old grandpa or magical elderly sage.
Too many older actors are being dropped in to grandparent roles and typical clichés, so DeNiro seems to be pushing against those pigeon holes. It’s too bad he’s working so hard against that type that he’s slumming it in complete nonsense like “Dirty Grandpa.” This is a film that’s so beneath DeNiro. Hell, it’s so beneath Zac Efron that it’s absolutely pathetic. Efron plays uptight lawyer Jason who is being pulled at all corners to pursue a law career and get married to his very rigid bride to be. When Jason is sent to deliver his newly widowed grandfather Dick to Florida, he’s shocked to discover his quiet and meek grandfather is actually loud, crude, foul mouthed, and sexually starved.
Despite Jason’s protests, Dick drags his uptight grandson across the country to go to Daytona Beach and party while Dick is still able to. All the while Jason realizes he may not be as happy with his buttoned down life as he thought. Their assorted misadventures involve drug use, a lot of sexual humor, and some painfully unfunny scenes that Efron just doesn’t have the comedic chops to handle. It’s almost like someone drew a raffle and paired these two completely different actors together to deliver what is a hundred minutes of pure comedy sewage. Efron and DeNiro have zero chemistry with one another.
Efron’s more reserved performance chugs behind DeNiro’s more charismatic and adrenaline fueled turn as this seventy something widow desperate to party and have as much sex as possible. Another minor consolation is the performance by Aubrey Plaza who isn’t just sexy, but also delivers some really sharp one-liners. I’m all for bad taste comedy but “Dirty Grandpa” goes one step over the line and almost make a sport out of being painful, unfunny, and disgusting. But hey if you want to see DeNiro shout words like “Pussy,” “Labia” and “Dildo” every five seconds, “Dirty Grandpa” might just right up your alley.