Dirty Grandpa is bad. There is no denying that fact – it currently sits at a 7% Rotten Tomatoes rating and has been panned by pretty much every critic out there. I could have guessed this from the trailer, but the film has still inexplicably made quite a bit of money. Not to be mixed up with the Jackass production Bad Grandpa, Dan Mazer’s latest film sees Robert DeNiro take cutting loose to the next level as Dick, a grandfather who forces his grandson, uptight lawyer Jason (Zac Efron), to take him on a roadtrip. Things go suitably awry after the pair meet Shadia (Zoey Deutch) and Lenore (Audrey Plaza) and end up partying in the infamous Daytoma Beach.
It’s a straightforward premise which is butchered in execution, with John Philips script relying on DeNiro constantly sprouting profanity in a desperate attempt to raise laughs. Gross out comedy can be funny (to an extent), but this is not an example of the subgenre done well – a grandfather/grandson duo smoking crack and making dick jokes comes across as much more creepy than funny.
The fairly decent cast are wasted on such shallow material – Plaza has proven her comedic chops in her fantastic turn in Parks and Recreation (2009-2013), but here she is reduced to her body, whilst Adam Pally provides some of the extremely sparse laughs in his supporting role as Jason’s cousin. It’s a shame to see DeNiro, arguably one of the best actors alive, appearing in such bad material (though he does seem to be having a blast), whilst even the biggest Efron haters have to admit that he is better than this.
Director Dan Mazer is best known as a writing collaborator of Sacha Baron Cohen, with Dirty Grandpa being his second directorial outing after British comedy I Give It A Year (2013). Whilst Baron Cohen may be off making Grimsby (due out in UK cinemas this month), his comedic style is all over Mazer’s work. Dirty Grandpa is a film so devoid of humour that it joins Movie 43 (2013) in the realm of worst comedy films to be released in recent years.