Robert De Niro clearly relishes his role in Dirty Grandpa as, you guessed it, the dirty grandpa. He cusses lots and spikes drinks with Zanex and flirts with Aubrey Plaza and takes his shirt off a lot and clearly is having a ton of fun all the way through. Zac Efron also takes his shirt off a lot but throughout this movie he looks as uncomfortable as the middle aged, flip-phone owning couple sitting directly in front of us at last night’s screening. Maybe, as Jay observed, Efron is coming to the sobering realization that being shirtless is his thing and the best he can hope for is to be brought back as the shirtless grandpa if this movie is the start of a Rocky-like franchise.
My money’s on there being no sequel. Dirty Grandpa has a lot of laughs and an abundance of dick jokes, but it also seemed unnecessarily long and unnecessarily concerned with plot. I didn’t need to see everyone learn a lesson. I certainly did not need three generations of lessons being taught to De Niro, Efron, and Dermot Mulroney. And we see stereotypes of hippies, lacrosse jocks, and gang members learn something too. The only ones exempt from this rule seem to be the very funny Jason Mantzoukas (a.k.a. Rafi from the League!) as a Daytona Beach drug dealer, and Adam Pally as Efron’s cousin. At least the writers had the good sense to allow those two to do their crazy guy routines the whole way through Dirty Grandpa. I wish they had given everyone such free reign. I was just there to laugh and didn’t need everything to be wrapped up perfectly, or at all.
I thought all the lessons really took away from Dirty Grandpa’s momentum, mainly by taking the focus off dirty De Niro. That hurt this movie a lot because De Niro as the dirty old guy is by far the best part. He’s really, really funny, but all too often he’s jolted out of that role when sad Efron calls him the worst grandpa ever (which happens every ten minutes or so). Take out all the grandpa-grandson make-up sessions and Dirty Grandpa would have been far more enjoyable.
Dirty Grandpa is a decent comedy, much better than I expected, but since the story seriously impedes these characters’ escapades, it seems like an opportunity missed. I give it a score of seven horny octogenarians out of ten.