It’s no secret that Robert De Niro has been on a downward spiral for years. No secret at all. It is generally considered that Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown was the last great De Niro performance, and next year that will be 20 years old. Since then, he’s seemingly appeared in absolutely anything he’s been offered and made an utter fool of himself. Sure, there have been a few exceptions – he’s been alright in David O. Russell’s films and I thought he was perfectly decent in The Intern. But in 2016, Robert De Niro completed his disturbing metamorphosis from legendary actor to embarrassing old sell-out. This is…ugh…Dirty Grandpa.
Out now on DVD & Blu-ray, Dirty Grandpa is an offensively bad disaster for all involved. The film follows Jason (Zac Efron), who reunites with his titular relative (Robert De Niro) at his grandmother’s funeral. Grandpa, or Dick, requests that Jason drive him across the country to Florida for Spring Break. Reluctantly, and against the wishes of his uptight and controlling fiancée (Julianna Hough), he agrees to do so. And so begins an increasingly inappropriate journey, as we watch De Niro lose what’s left of his self-respect across an hour and 40 minutes. Put it this way - in one of his first scenes, Zac Efron’s character walks in on him masturbating. Yes – we now live in a world where films can contain Zac Efron walking in on Robert De Niro wanking. I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.
Dirty Grandpa has no redeeming qualities. With comedies like this, the team behind it pump all their efforts into the ‘jokes’ and everything else suffers for it. Know what I mean? Comedies rarely have interesting and original plots or strong production values because of the focus on the humour. But when the ‘jokes’ fall flat on their stupid faces, then the film really is one big fail. When a horror film isn’t scary, it can still be a good film. But when a comedy isn’t funny, it’s just uncomfortable. It’s like watching your friends talk in inside jokes – you don’t understand it so you can’t find any humour. You just feel left out. When one of the first ‘jokes’ is from a drunk and stoned guy at a funeral, rambling about cancer being a conspiracy theory, you know you’re in for a rough ride.
There’s really nothing to discuss with Dirty Grandpa. The rest of the cast try their best, but embarrass themselves purely by being there. Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch, Danny Glover and Dermot Mulroney are all perfectly adequate, but it’s just upsetting to see anyone in this. Dirty Grandpa is cinematic rock bottom. We’ve come to expect this from De Niro and, to a certain extent, Zac Efron. But to see other people affected by this monster of a film is just depressing. Are times really that bad? Surely you guys can find better work than this. There was a time when saying “I worked with Robert De Niro” was one of the best things you could say in Hollywood. But now, it’s one of the worst.
I’m not going to waste any time by trying (and failing) to make the plot sound interesting, because it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. I’m also not going to search for any artistic merit in the film’s production. There’s just nothing there. Dirty Grandpa is depressingly bad. I watched this with the lowest expectations I have ever had for a film – and I was still disappointed.
Dirty Grandpa is just everything wrong with film. It’s a big bowl of shit. It isn’t even remotely amusing, the plot is painfully unoriginal, the crude attempts at humour are embarrassingly childish and below everyone involved, and it only cements De Niro’s position as the biggest sell-out in Hollywood. He’s a two-time Academy Award winner, and he’s in this. Never has there been a more appropriate time to say “how the mighty have fallen”. It is time for you to bow out gracefully, De Niro. Retire. You’ve surely got enough money to settle down. It’s too late to walk away with any dignity left, but you will completely tarnish your legacy forever if you make another film like this.
Ladies and gentlemen, do not put yourselves through this. You deserve better. 0/5.
Dirty Grandpa at CeX
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