"The way I see it, this is our last stand."
No matter how often I think about the alternative ideological concept that lies behind the making of ‘Dirty Grandpa’ all I can think about is the notion that some producer saw that scene from ‘Bad Neighbours’ in which Zac Efron dresses up as Travis Bickle for a Robert DeNiro party and thought ‘we can make a movie out of that idea’. The result isn’t actually as bad as one might expect, it’s much, much worse.
Jason Kelly (Efron) is an uptight lawyer who is sent to accompany his recently widowed grandfather (DeNiro) to Florida for his retirement. However his grandfather becomes involved in increasingly outrageous behaviour and Jason has to keep both him and himself out of trouble in preparation for his upcoming wedding.
Looking at the advertising for this film I can’t help but think the studio wants to revel in the outrageous nature of the film, taking pride in how audiences have felt nauseous and beyond uncomfortable, and can I instantly say that having seen the film, that annoys me. Not because I’m overly sensitive and easily offended, but I dislike the notion that the content of this film can be advertised as being fun and enjoyable, that anyone would be tricked into having to watch this deeply horrible film.
After I watched a film like ‘Sicario’ I felt deeply disturbed and unsettled, but that is just a fraction of how troubled I was having watched ‘Dirty Grandpa’. The problem is that unlike Denis Villeneuve’s thriller, this is intended as a comedy. It’s an endless display of insensitive vulgarity and crudeness that Jordan Belfort would look at and say ‘That’s a bit too far’.
Even more offensive though is just how pointless the whole parade is. There’s nothing intelligent, poignant or meaningful behind the debacle and it is so relentlessly crude that after a while it just made me feel numb and desensitised to the endless parade of crudity and meaninglessness. Let me give you just one example of the level of intelligence and vulgarity we are dealing with here. At one point DeNiro’s character makes a joke concerning a name of another character, Jack Nicklaus, swapping the N for a D. Get it? Another classic moment comes as Efron walks in on his grandfather … shall we say, relaxing in a gentlemen’s way, but not through implication or as a fleeting shot but for a long time. In fact that may be the longest unbroken shot in the film as the rapid fire editing is almost as nauseating as the content of the film.
But if that’s too high brow for you, never fear because there are plenty of jokes about sex, molestation, male and female anatomies, racism, homophobia and anything else that a culturally starved teenager would find funny. I don’t want to say that I can never watch a Robert DeNiro movie again (or at least I hope not because I just bought the Leone cut of ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ so otherwise that’s going to be a rough four hours) but I never lost a sense of utter bafflement throughout this film concerning what it is, that some producer or director has, over DeNiro that would cause him to take part in this movie. I have to keep telling myself that there is no possibility he would undertake this project willingly, did they kidnap Martin Scorsese, steal his Oscar for ‘Godfather Part 2’, anything that would justify having to be in this disgusting, brash and sickening movie?
The whole nature of the film is so disturbingly incoherent, and the fact that one of the laziest attempts at moral decency concerning a lecture about following your dreams and not being held down by other people’s rules only adds to the depression. The only consistent thing within the film is how humourless it is, how often the jokes fail to make me laugh and how regularly they disgust me. The funniest thing about the film is how unfunny it is, the fact that it tries to advertise itself as a comedy is in itself a joke. It’s sense of humour is just so wildly, horrifically misplaced. You would get booed out of a Frankie Boyle gig for repeating any of the jokes in this, firstly because they are disgusting and secondly because they simply are not funny.
Less of a comedy and more of a tragedy.