Dirty Grandpa, 2016.
Directed by Dan Mazer.
Starring Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Julianne Hough, Zoey Deutch, Jason Mantzoukas and Dermot Mulroney.
Right before his wedding, an uptight guy is tricked into driving his grandfather, a perverted former Army general, to Florida for spring break.
Think of the worst moments you have experienced whilst watching the shiny, shimmering lights of cinema’s endless catalogue. Does it involve Showgirls? Nipples on a Bat-suit? Nicolas Cage and an army of bees? Got one? That moment, from whatever depths of film’s most sinful moments is about to be outdone by not one, not two but countless moments in Dirty Grandpa, one of the most embarrassing and shameful films to come out of Hollywood this decade. All while having Oscar winner Robert De Niro grits his teeth and gamefully plays along. Brace yourselves: this is the lowest of the low.
Almost immediately, this putrid new effort from Ali G co-creator/producer Dan Mazer stakes its claim for worst of the year, a pretty impressive feat as January is still to come to a close. You have to wonder what on earth De Niro saw in the material that made him jump on board and have this as part of his rich filmography. The promise of being a foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed 70 year-old who smokes weed and instantaneous falls for the charm of Aubrey Plaza (another baffling inclusion here from her perspective) sure sounded like fun of paper, and indeed the veteran does go full speed into the role, but even he must have seen the many warning signs of taking of this “challenge”.
But within the opening moments it becomes clear that what is supposed to an R-rated “out there” comedy overflowing with hilarity pertaining to sex, drugs and countless swears (many of which from De Niro) that will have you rolling in the aisles as your sides burst, soon becomes one of the most humiliating film experiences of the last decade. So desperate is Mazer and screenwriter John Phillips (Bad Santa 2 – not a good omen) to be funny that the whole endeavour plays out as hopeless, desperate and woefully inept in every way as De Niro’s titular ‘Gramps’ decides to trick his uptight, soon-to-hitched grandson (Efron) into heading to spring break for copious amounts of the aforementioned filth. Ever wanted to see one of cinema’s greats reduce himself to self-pleasure on-screen? Then this is the film for you.
From there the film continues on its endless search for comedy value but comes up short on every excruciating level as De Niro and Efron struggle hopelessly to resuscitate any shred of life into the film as it meanders to its inevitable conclusions and resolutions, with both left flailing under the weight of the ineptitude and stupidity (and yes vulgarity and at times “cruel) of the films hopelessness. Is this what passes for comedy these days? Comedies are smart and funny and engaging, this is none of them.
If there is any consolation to be found throughout this head-shaking, hands-on-face-bad effort it’s in the hands of Jason Mantzoukas, who injects some shred of life into proceedings as a local shop owner who moonlights as the resident beach drug dealer. You would have happily sat through a comedy film following his exploits up and down the beach, in fact it would have probably raised a few chuckles like he does here. Sadly, we can only dream.
Dirty Grandpa is an infuriating film not least because even the most casual of moviegoers knows that De Niro, Efron and Plaza are so much better than this. Brainless, obnoxious, vile and downright mortifying, Dirty Grandpa is 2016’s early measurement in the worst of the worst, sure to be buried deep under everything else the new year has to offer. It’s going to take something mightily awful to dethrone this of such an honour. Fifty Shades of Black, you may have been saved.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Scott J. Davis is Senior Staff Writer at Flickering Myth, and co-host and editor of The Flickering Myth Review Podcast. Follow him on Twitter.