HOLLYWOOD—It has been said time and time again that doing comedy is no easy task. People point out the importance of simplicity, while others note ‘trying to be funny’ and ‘just being funny’ are two different things. Perhaps “Dirty Grandpa” should take note. This raunchy comedy starring Oscar-winner Robert De Niro and heartthrob Zac Efron pushes those boundaries a bit farther than most people would expect.
De Niro portrays Dick Kelly, a retired Army veteran who has just lost his wife and is looking to reconnect with his grandson Jason (Efron). Dick is the perfect example of never judging a book by its cover, the same sentiment can be echoed for Jason who is so uptight; it drives his grandpa bonkers. The two relatives bond during an epic road trip, where grandpa unleashes his inner beast and the result is somewhat tumultuous, scary and quite disturbing to say the least.
When I think of “Dirty Grandpa,” I think of a narrative where, you have no narrative. It’s just a wild bunch of characters that interact in ways that might leave some exiting the theater thinking: “What the hell did I just watch?” Yes, that is a question you might ask yourself on more than one occasion. Between seeing his grandfather masturbate to consistent gags where his gramps sticks his thumb up his grandson’s you know what, this movie is not for the faint of heart.
I will admit it was a treat to see De Niro portray a character that is such a departure from what so many people think or expect from the esteemed actor. However, if you go back to his earlier works, it’s evident he always had comedic chops; just not many people realized it.
Through the road of discover, Jason and Dick encounter Shadia (Zoey Deutch), a former classmate of Jason’s who has a liking to him and Lenore (Aubrey Plaza), whose desire to hook up with Dick is just disturbing in so many ways I couldn’t even emit a laugh if I wanted to.
What “Dirty Grandpa” suffers from most is its attempt to continue to push the outlandish gags as much as possible with the perception the more disturbing it is, the funnier it is. Unfortunately, that notion becomes tired quite early and you find yourself watching a movie that seems to go nowhere.
You can predict precisely how things will end from the start of the movie. Efron who proved he could be funny in “Neighbors,” doesn’t have that great comedic timing. The script is lackluster, the direction is a mess and frankly “Dirty Grandpa” made me wish I never had high hopes for the concept of watching such a movie.