Make no mistake about it, Robert De Niro is a bona fide legend. But also make no mistake that his latest film, Dirty Grandpa, is not just the worst movie he has ever been in, but it may be the worst movie anyone has ever been in. As I say in my video review, this movie is so stupefyingly awful it is almost impossible to imagine what could have attracted star Zac Efron, and especially De Niro, to want to wade through this mess, or in fact for distributor Lionsgate to want to make it in the first place. That company certainly doesn’t seem to want to show it as they wisely didn’t make Dirty Grandpa available for critics in advance of Thursday night’s opening previews, where I caught it. The word of mouth on this steaming pile will be disastrous.
The film’s plot (what there is of it) centers on an uptight young lawyer, Jason (Efron), who is about to be married to a wedding-obsessed fiancee (a one-note Julianne Hough). But he is tricked by his lecherous grandfather (De Niro) into taking him on a trip to Florida after gramp’s wife of 40 years dies. The real purpose of the trip is for Grandpa to get to Daytona Beach where some wild Spring Break action is taking place and he can get his rocks off with some bikini-clad college-age girls.
You know you are in big trouble almost from the first tasteless moments at the wife’s funeral and a follow-up scene where De Niro (whose character’s name is Dick, of course) is pleasuring himself while watching porn while waiting for Jason to pick him up. Things go way downhill from there in a movie that tries for the gross-out humor of stuff like The Hangover but makes that film look like high art by comparison. People are already confusing it with Johnny Knoxville’s Bad Grandpa, but that movie is 12 Years A Slave compared to this. Rarely have I seen a motion picture — and I have seen them all — that wallows so unashamedly in homophobic, racist, misogynist, so-called humor. Its “jokes” are aimed at just about everyone with any kind of disability — and even one you-have-to-see-it-to believe-it-scene with a naked Efron being caught in an act of mistaken child molestation. Hilarious, right? We are only three weeks into 2016, but what can compete with this for dud of the year?
Maybe all of this could be OK with some forgiving audiences if any of it was funny, but the laughs here are few and far between — almost non-existent. I sat with my mouth open, astonished at watching accomplished actors (who hopefully will wipe this thing from their IMDb page immediately) flailing about for laughs that never come. It’s embarrassing to see thesps the caliber of Danny Glover and Dermot Mulroney thoroughly humiliated, no matter how small their roles may be. Mulroney, in fact, spends most of his screen time with penises painted all over his face, which is at least not as bad as what Efron has to endure in a couple of scenes where his forehead is plastered with a Nazi Swastika also designed with male members. I can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Efron is asked to do things that fall under the category of friggin’ embarrassing, and coming so soon after the flop of We Are Your Friends in August, he really did not need a movie like this one as his next time out. The unfortunate thing for Efron is he will have a hard time getting images off the Internet of him virtually naked in a G-string with a little stuffed animal covering the R-rated place, but he is also forced to wear a variety of outfits that are just as humiliating. I like Efron; he’s a good actor. I hope he finds a new agent. As for De Niro, I guess he just needed the paycheck.
Dan Mazer was the director. John Phillips, with his first credit, was the writer. They are both now in movie jail and I am holding the key. Bill Block, Barry Josephson, Michael Simkin and Jason Barrett produced.
Do you plan to see Dirty Grandpa (seriously?)? Let us know what you think.