Sunday, February 12, 2017


Welcome to another installment of the TRASH BIN, where we watch the worst movies Hollywood has to offer, according to the critics, and give you our thoughts, good or bad. This week, we’re going to dive into the trash bin and pull out something from 2016…DIRTY GRANDPA.

Dirty Grandpa is the 2016 raunchy comedy directed by Borat and Brüno scribe Dan Mazer. The film stars Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch, and Aubrey plaza in yet another “person you would not expect to be crass is crass” comedy. The film follows the story of a grandfather and grandson who travel together to Florida after the grandmother passes away. The uptight son thinks he’s just taking his grandfather to his home to golf, but grandpa has other plans and wants to go on a sexscapade and hopefully teach his grandson an important life lesson.

Boiling my thoughts down to one sentence on Dirty Grandpa is complicated. In no sense is this a “good” movie. The story is incredibly clichéd and is painfully poorly executed. That said, it’s not all bad. There were several moments in the film that made me legitimately laugh and I didn’t leave it feeling totally unsatisfied.

Beginning with the positives, I think that there are several funny gags in the film and De Niro and Efron have really solid and engaging chemistry throughout. As we kind of know from Mazer’s past work with Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedies, he has a knack for developing funny gags. Dirty Grandpa is no exception. There are many moments in this film that are just so surprising and dynamic that, even when dumb, you can’t help but laughing. The physical comedy in this is really well executed and they effectively use everyone’s abilities well in this way.

On top of the gags, the biggest thing you can take away from this film was the buy in and performances of the two leads. De Niro and Efron both give everything they have to these roles and really have great chemistry. There has been a lot of talk about how “once respected” actor Robert De Niro is ruining his legacy with films like this. I disagree. Is this Casino, Goodfellas, or The Godfather Part 2? Of course not. Don’t make me laugh. But this isn’t so far afield from his work in Meet the Parents or Meet the Fockers that I’m going to fear for his legacy (in fact, there are surprising number of similarities between those movies and this one). De Niro very much commits to this role and plays it effectively. Efron similarly gives everything he has and has really established his comedy in recent films. This was actually kind of a different turn for him as he was playing the straight man instead of the wild and crazy figure. I think he does a great job of it and the synergy with De Niro playing the wacky character subverts a lot of our expectations in a surprisingly good way. Finally, though she’s not good in the film, Aubrey Plaza does give the film its funniest moment at the very end.

The film isn’t good though. The performances outside of De Niro and Efron are weak and pretty grating. Plaza is very bland for the vast majority. Deutch looks good and is meant to offer the emotional through line but, let’s be honest, that is not what anyone cares about in this movie. Julianne Hough drags the film down every moment she is on screen. Jason Mantzoukas was conceivably the worst thing about the film as this strange recurring drug dealer character (by the way, if you want to see how that is done right see Michael Shannon in The Night Before). Overall, the supporting cast really drags and makes the film a slog to watch at times.

On top of that, the film creates certain scenarios that are so beyond the realm of reality that the humor dissipates. It’s funny to see the zany grandfather character be surprising, but it’s not funny to see someone get arrested for exposing their bodies to a young child and then being released like it was no big deal. There are a pair of police characters and police interactions that recur throughout the narrative and they feel like such a work of fantasy that whatever was real about the film kind of fades away and the humor in this scenario is lost.

Overall, Dirty Grandpa is not a film worth seeking out, but if you do see it I can’t say there is nothing to enjoy. There are some solidly funny moments amidst a film that doesn’t work making it bearable even if not recommended.

Rotten Tomatoes: 10%
Metacritic: 18

Ryan’s Score: 4/10

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