If someone had told you ten years ago that Robert De Niro would be in a comedy playing an old guy trying to get laid in 2016 you would have thought they were kidding. Yet here we have Dirty Grandpa that sees Robert De Niro play grandfather Dick Kelly, who tricks his grandson Jason Kelly played by Zac Efron, to go on a road trip to help him get laid.
Whilst on the trip they bump into old school friend Shadia played by Zoey Deutch who Jason falls for and her friend Lenore played by Aubrey Plaza who becomes obsessed with sleeping with Dick (Yes a pun, just go with it).
Robert De Niro is quite hilarious as the foul-mouthed Grandpa; he plays Dick as a controversial character but someone who genuinely cares for his grandson. And just seeing De Niro playing a character like this is fun, saying things you would never imagine hearing De Niro say.
Zac Efron continues to impress in these R Rated comedies much like his roles in Neighbors and That Awkward Moment, his comedic timing is on point and him and De Niro have good chemistry together. Efron is actually playing the straight man to De Niro being the funny one which is the opposite to what many were expecting going in. Some of Efron’s scenes, such as him waking up naked on a beach after a night of drinking are the funniest in the whole film.
Unfortunately the writing in the film isn’t great, the jokes aren’t amazing, and in the first 30 minutes this reviewer barely laughed once. A lot of jokes early on fell flat and came across as trying to be shocking for the sake of it without really being funny.
Aubrey Plaza’s character Lenore was a funnier idea on paper then she actually was in the film and was wasted in this role, the writing just wasn’t good enough to help her pull the character off even though she was really trying. It didn’t help that most of her best lines were used heavily in the trailers, which made them less memorable when you watch the film.
Despite some good jokes in the film, the story is incoherent at times and didn’t make a lot of sense. Which made the film worse when the jokes were falling flat. Pacing in the film was also an issue; the film was only under 2 hours but felt way longer and dragged particularly going into the 3rd act.
There are some laughs to be had here, but unfortunately they are few and far between. Whilst De Niro, Efron and Plaza try their best, the script is lacking and the film really suffers because of it.
By Simon Hanson