Movie Review – Dirty Grandpa (2016)

Director: Dan Mazer

Stars: Zac Efron, Robert De Niro, Zoey Deutch, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Mantzoukas, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Hough

After his grandmother died, Jason (Efron) is asked by his grandpa (De Niro) to drive down to Boca for some golf, a week before his wedding. Little does Jason know that his grandpa actually wants to party, but along the way the two of them grow closer together and Jason gains a new perspective on life.

I have to be honest here and say that I really wasn’t looking forward to Dirty Grandpa. I actually only saw it because it was the only film that fit in between the other films I was seeing in my triple bill. It seemed like a stupid, lowbrow comedy that dedicated itself to gross humour and nothing. But faithful readers, I am happy to admit when my preconceptions are wrong. There is gross humour in here, but it’s married to a heartfelt plot that gives the film something more than simple dirtiness.

The main theme of the film is to think for yourself and do what makes you happy rather than let other people decide the course of your life for you. Jason has lost his dreams and is now getting married to a woman who is controlling anything, and it is clear that Jason is basically sleeping through life. Enter his grandpa, who wants to seize his newfound singledom after being married for forty years. It’s not the most original plot ever and the beats of the story are predictable, but Efron and De Niro are quality actors and they elevate the material. Their dynamic is excellent and Efron plays the straight man well, while De Niro seems to revel in letting loose in front of the camera.

And on that point, I have heard some consternation that De Niro is basically tarnishing his legacy by doing films like these, which pale in comparison to some of the stuff he did in his younger days like Raging Bull etc, but I think because of the work he put into those films he’s earned the right to have fun in his later years. I find it difficult to begrudge him this.

There’s eye candy for both sexes here, and Efron gets a chance to bust out his singing voice (which I’m not sure he’s done in a movie since the High School Musical films, although I’m happy to be corrected on that point). And yeah, the humour is pretty broad but that’s something to be expected going in. This isn’t going to be for everyone and I know a lot of people are going to dislike the film greatly, but it was better than I expected and while it’s certainly not original the two main actors make it fun to watch.

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