02nd Feb2016

‘Dirty Grandpa’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Mantzoukas, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Hough, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Brandon Mychal Smith, Adam Pally | Written by John Phillips | Directed by Dan Mazer

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Sacha Baron Cohen cohort Dan Mazer – who produced Cohen’s movies Bruno, Borat and The Dictator – follows up his feature debut, I Give It A Year, with a Cohen-style gross-out comedy starring the legend that is Robert De Niro. This time round De Niro, in another of his comedic roles (his last The Intern was superb FYI), he appears alongside the smouldering sex-bomb that is Zac Efron. And both of them get topless. Which should be all most of this films target audience will need to know really. But I digress.

Dirty Grandpa sees preppy Jason (Efron), just days away from getting married to his equally uptight fiancée, tasked with taking his grandpa, Dick, to Florida for Spring Break to help him overcome the death of his wife. Grandpa Dick (De Niro) couldn’t be any more different to Jason, who shows up at his house in a pink convertible. Vulgar, foul-mouthed and with no social filter, he’s on a mission to do all the things he he’s missed out on in his youth, much to the dismay of his overly-reserved grandson. Before long, the two are hitting the party scene hard, night and day, surrounded by beautiful women and hedonistic party animals…

Wow. Just wow. That was my reaction as Dirty Grandpa unfolded. Why? Well it would seem from this film that Robert De Niro has lost his mind. If you thought he’d stooped to a low with the Meet the Parents movies, you’re not going to like this version of De Niro. Foul-mouthed, racist, bigoted and all round anarchic, De Niro’s filthy Grandpa is the antithesis of anything the actor has done before. This is certainly not your daddy’s (or Grandpa’s) De Niro… It is admittedly one of the funniest performances – in the truest laugh out loud variety – he’s ever given though; it turns out De Niro sans any sort of filter is a lot of fun!

Despite all the outlandish behaviour this Grandson-terrorising old man actually has a method to his madness. You see he’s actually (shock, horror) not all bad, his behaviour is – obviously – a ploy to get his grandson out of the rut he’s in and away from the straight-laced materialistic lifestyle he’s headed for. In other words all the gross-out, crass humour was for the same sickly-sweet reasons found in 99% of these [anti]rom-com’s (see The Wedding Ringer for a similar example). Hey, at least we got some totally outlandish 18-rated humour to carry the fluffball plot! And let’s just say that the concept of being “Oreo-d” will definitely stick with me for a while…

Speaking of outlandish 18-rated humour, it’s clear to see why Mazer made the cut as director. The comedy in Dirty Grandpa is as near the knuckle as the comedy in the Mazer/Cohen collaborations – in some cases it goes even further, especially in terms of racial ‘humour’. Yet it’s undoubtedly because it’s De Niro delivering those near-the-knuckle lines that the comedy is all the more shocking. Watching films like Bruno we KNOW Sacha Baron Cohen is going for shock value. But De Niro? Hell no! The surprise adds and extra layer to the outrageous script, actually – somehow – adding kudos to the freakishness.

If you enjoyed the likes of American Pie, Sex Drive, or Bad Grandpa you’ll certainly enjoy Dirty Grandpa. The film is in cinemas across the UK now.

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