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Dirty Grandpa


Stars: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch, Jason Mantzoukas, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Hough, Danny Glover, Adam Pally, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman

Director: Dan Mazer

It’s been 40 years since Taxi Driver earned him a well-deserved Oscar nomination and more than 40 years since The Godfather Part II brought him an Oscar, and confirmed Robert De Niro as one of the movie greats.

Comedy, however, has never really been De Niro’s forte as the Fockers films have so embarrassingly demonstrated.

So it’s almost inevitable that his starring role in this lewd, crude, rudely racial and intellectually irredeemably filthy comedy (so filthy, foul-mouthed and bulging with four-letter words that it would be a shoo-in for Channel 4) would earn De Niro nothing but a tsunami of critical abuse for letting his hair down with a vengeance – and, worse still, letting down his saintly status as a Movie Great.

But, to give De Niro his due, for once he appears to have nailed low comedy, albeit rather less subtly than a hippopotamus tap dancing in a telephone box, with his anything-and-everything-goes performance here.

We first meet him as the then bearded eponymous dirty grandpa at his wife’s funeral in Atlanta where he cons his uptight about-to-wed lawyer grandson Efron into driving him to Daytona.

Cue a tidal wave of unalloyed filth, verbal and visual, starting with Efron arriving to pick up his grandfather and finding De Niro – now clean-shaven – masturbating to porn on TV.

What follows could be classified as that trendy cineaste genre, the road trip, as the differing duo set off in a small pink car (described by De Niro as a “giant tampon” on an odyssey during which De Niro delights in calling Efron a ‘lesbian’ among other less reportable attacks on the luckless lawyer.

I’m not giving away anything when I say that by the end, Efron is no longer uptight with De Niro having behaved badly in every way possible and a few you would be unlikely to think of (unless, of course, you were John M Phillips whose silly, salacious screenplay misses out few utterly appalling low jokes, verbal or visual).

So why, then, did I (and I admit this was utterly disgraceful behavior and unjustified in every way) and one or two other reviewers as well, find ourselves laughing at filthy jokes so low a centipede could have passed over them without feeling even a minor lump?

My excuse is simple.

De Niro has (regrettably, for his artistic heritage?) finally found ways of raising laughs, mostly by delivering tasteless, tacky and utterly inappropriate dialogue with just the right level of over-emphasis and comic audience-nudging and matching this with physical comedy that could well have impressed Shemp, Larry and Moe.

Efron, too, does the comic business at just the right low, lewd level.

Let’s face it,

Filth can be fun, on a low, low, low and even lower level.

And like so many, many movies, Dirty Grandpa, directed without a even a smidgeon of good taste by the Ali G Show’s Dan Mazer, is aimed at smut-loving audiences, not reviewers.

Alan Frank

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour.
102 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 30 Jan 2016