Dirty Grandpa (2016)
After watching Dirty Grandpa (2016) my first reaction was how quickly can I flush this movie from memory? Top critics around the globe have panned it as awful, crude and unfunny, despite it starring the venerable Robert De Niro and quickly earning $90 M (USD) in box office from a $11.5 M (USD) outlay (beating many other well-reviewed films). Have the critics been overly swayed by the film’s puerile humour, vulgar language and incongruous adolescent antics played out by a grandfather figure? And while we are talking ageism and gender equality, why has the foul-mouthed Grandma (2015) starring the also revered Lily Tomlin been reviewed so kindly when the story themes are not that different? With so many films featuring outrageous language, humour, and behaviour, could it be a bridge too far when a 73-year old cinema icon swansongs an illustrious career in such a subversive anti-establishment way?
In genre terms, this is a standard father and son road film where self-discovery, redemption and familial bonding are the destinations, similar to Nebraska (2013). Grandpa has literally just buried his wife after 40 years of marriage and uses the sympathy card to trick his estranged grandson Jason (Zac Efron) into driving the three-day road trip that was planned with his wife. Jason is an uptight conservative lawyer about to marry his boss’s snooty over-controlling daughter and his future as a corporate partner appears secure. With the wedding only a week away, the trip becomes an odyssey of booze, karaoke, a beach ‘flex-off’, girl chasing and other bawdy behaviour. Grandpa calling their pink convertible Mini Cooper the ‘giant labia’ sums up the tone of the journey. Along the way, Jason finds his undiscovered self, revisits his closet ambition to be a photo-journalist, and his tidy life plans look shaky. The rest you can guess.
Standard comedic stuff, you might say, sure to get a laugh. So what went wrong? This is another film that almost worked, but poor post-production decisions cost it dearly. Editing out excesses of gratuitous profanities, juvenile hip-thrusting and other genital and coital references might have appeased the baying hounds and lifted this comedy to another level. But then it would not have been Dirty Grandpa. Maybe when grandpa De Niro says the trip is “not about guilt but redemption” he is referring to the casting straitjacket he has worn in so many films with this one his last chance to break out. While this film will not do much for the De Niro legacy, if you can ignore the inane smut you will find some laughs. Anyway, why cant baby boomers let it out?
Director: Dan Mazer
Stars: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch
In my opinion, this movie was garbage through and through. I have yet to see a 2016 movie that was worse.
I do hope this is not DeNiro’s swan song.
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Thanks stevejdonahue; you are not alone. But surely it is not as bad as Gods of Egypt? The voice of the people as measured at the box office think this film has some merit, despite the commentariat’s declaration of a killing season on De Niro. The film has issues, but I stick with the passable rating of two and a half stars because throughout the film I was curious what happens next and much of it was laughably stupid.
I get what you’re saying. However, I don’t judge the merits of a movie by how much it makes at the box office. Otherwise, my opinions on Zootopia and BvS would have been much higher.
But yes, as movies, Dirty Grandpa and Gods of Egypt are both inconsolably broken movies.
The only reason that I gave Gods of Egypt a 2 instead of a 1 is because its terribleness adds some comedic value to the movie, in a way that it’s so bad that it’s good (well… so bad that it’s slightly entertaining).
Dirty Grandpa’s humor is lazy, embarrassing, and inept, its a story arc that has been done a million times, and its characters are recreated tropes from hundreds of other movies that have done it better and more subtle.
There was literally one scene where I laughed, when Plaza tells De Niro to rip her open like a social security check, but literally the rest of the movie I was writhing in my chair with how bad the movie was.
Of course, my viewpoint isn’t the same as everybody else’s, so it’s not like you’re wrong for enjoying it (I just think you’re wrong for enjoying it lol). Two Youtube reviewers I watch both gave it similar grades to yours.
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Thanks for you comments Steve, even though I dont share your point of view. You have challenged me to clarify why I keep defending this fundamentally flawed movie, which I’m willing to do. IMO, if De Niro was replaced by a young bro whacko, it might have worked despite the narrative predictability. So I’m backing De Niro not because of his acting career or baby boomer status, but because I believe the merciless critical attacks on this film reveal deep-seated prejudices based on age and on a belief that De Niro should more or less stay in character (ie: serious). There are many flaws with this movie, but it is not “garbage” nor an “inconsolably broken movie”. Its just playing to an audience that is willing to indulge De Niro’s attempts at smut comedy. Compared with what passes as mature comedy in many movies, this one is prepared to have a laugh at ageist assumptions, class and gender conventions, and even the institution of marriage. For example, the wedding reception scene was utterly ridiculous but totally parodic. The hounds baying for blood need to lighten up; Hollywood praises much worse films than this.
Sorry I didn’t reply to your response. WordPress did not notify me.
I’m curious as to what you mean by the movies that pass as mature comedies. Which comedies are they? Given that I really do not enjoy most comedies except a few here and there and pretty much everything made by Edgar Wright, I will probably agree with you about most bad movies passing as mature comedies.
As for the rest of your reply, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Haha.
If you do want to talk about it in depth, I do have an extremely small segment of my blog called “Conversations about movies” if you want to talk about and defend your views on Dirty Grandpa. You’d be the second person to ever participate.