I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh during Bad Grandpa- the new comedy starring Zac Efron and Robert De Niro. Sure it relies on shock factor gags and is consistently offensive but my more juvenile side seemed to take charge during the film and there were a handful of moments where I couldn’t help but chuckle. What lets Bad Grandpa down however is it’s lack of conviction. Unsure of whether it wants to be an American Pie for OAPs or a Judd Apatow inspired story of someone finding themselves through a series of comedic events Bad Grandpa in the end falls short.
Robert De Niro plays the aptly named Dick, an old man who one day after burying his wife tricks his grandson, Jason, an uptight lawyer who is a week away from getting married into coming with him on a hedonistic quest to the beaches of Florida. The first time we really get an insight into Dick’s life he is masturbating in a reclining chair over a porno when he is rudely interrupted by Jason. The two then hop into a pink Mini and head off, unbeknownst to Jason on a mission to get Dick laid one last time.
Much is likely to be said about this movie- it manages to offend pretty every minority during its unnecessarily long 100 minute run time and it is perhaps the least dignified role of De Niro’s career. Thankfully though unlikely many others I don’t have too much of an issue with De Niro taking an easy pay check- if there is one actor working today that is doesn’t need to earn my respect it’s De Niro and if he wants to make a movie where he gets to get mounted by young attractive women then so be it.
The humour in Dirty Grandpa is, as the title would suggest, consistently vulgar. If you want a taste of what the movie is like then consider this- there is an on going gag through out the movie that sees De Niro sneaking up behind Efron and poking his thumb up his arse. This is bottom of the barrel laughs and it knows it- but as I mentioned it still managed to raise a wry smile from me at times. Think the Inbetweeners for old people and you’ve got a good idea of what to expect from this.
Where the movie does totally fall apart though is in its decision to attempt to add some sort of moral to the situation. Dick’s plotting and Jason’s self discovery feel increasingly contrived as the movie progresses and come the movie’s final third all hope has been lost altogether. To make a movie so utterly vulgar and attempt to add in some sort of journey of self discovery was always going to cause problems and its this lack of conviction that really lets Dirty Grandpa down.
Verdict: Everyone is going to hate Dirty Grandpa and I can understand why, but those of you out there who may find some sort of pleasure in an old man swearing and being a pervert may find something to enjoy here. It’s not good, but it’s not terrible either.