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edge staff writer


Some dirt just won't wash off

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'Dirty Grandpa' one of 2016's worst so far

Ever wonder what would happen if you paired one of the greatest actors in Hollywood history with a sentient set of abs?

Well, whether you did or not, the answer has arrived in the form of 'Dirty Grandpa,' a comedy sorry, 'comedy' starring Robert De Niro and Zac Efron. Let me be the one to assure you that however bad you might believe this movie to be, rest assured that it is much, much worse.

Efron is Jason Kelly, an up-and-coming corporate lawyer in Atlanta who is on the verge of marrying fellow lawyer Meredith (Julianne Hough, 'Curve'). He works at the firm run by his father David (Dermot Mulroney, 'Truth') and generally seems on the verge of achieving his version of the American Dream.

After attending his grandmother's funeral, Jason receives an odd request from his grandfather Dick (De Niro). See, Jason's grandparents always took a trip to Boca and Dick would like to continue that tradition. However, he has lost his driver's license and asks Jason if he would drive. Despite the looming wedding and his work responsibilities, Jason agrees while the two have drifted apart, Jason was once very close to his grandfather.

It doesn't take long for Jason to realize that Dick might just have some ulterior motives. It turns out that Jason's grandfather has decided to embrace what life he has left. In short, he's ready to party.

While at a diner, Jason and Dick happen to encounter a group heading to Daytona for spring break. There's Shadia (Zoey Deutch, 'Vampire Academy'), a former photography classmate of Jason's (because of course). Shadia's fellow travelers are Bradley (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, TV's 'UnREAL') and Lenore (Aubrey Plaza, TV's 'Parks and Recreation'), the latter of whom inexplicably is instantly committed to finding a way to sleep with Dick.

You can probably guess where all this is heading.

From there, Dick talks Jason into heading to Daytona, where they meet up with these new friends and start engaging in a serious of increasingly-implausible adventures whose nonsensicalness is exceeded only by the gratuitous excess of their filthiness. And yes, along the way, Jason starts to ask himself some serious questions about the life that he has chosen to lead and whether it's what he truly wants.

Or, you know whatever.

One thing that needs to be made clear right off the bat 'Dirty Grandpa' is not in any way kidding around with that title. This script a debut effort from John Phillips consists of a nigh-nonexistent plot that exists solely as a structure upon which to drape cursewords, filthy jokes and stereotypical situations. It is raunch within raunch a sort of raunchception, if you will but the movie is so weighted down by it that it all becomes a dull hum. The basic idea seems to be 'old people being dirty is hilarious,' which is not an idea I disagree with on principle; unfortunately, any single note no matter how entertaining will lose its meaning if struck too often.

The laughs happen by accident you know, assuming there are any laughs at all. Occasionally, you might laugh because you simply don't know what else to do. Mostly, you'll cringe in your seat, wondering what sinister forces have conspired to result in a world in which this film exists.

De Niro is clearly phoning this one in; Dick Kelly epitomizes the concept of the 'paycheck part.' And that's fine let the guy get paid. There are those who will say that much of De Niro's late career has consisted of roles that somehow diminish his legacy, but the truth is that he's earned the right to do whatever he wants. If you really think that De Niro getting paid to drop f-bombs and ogle Aubrey Plaza's boobs somehow lessens his iconic performances, then you're probably not that big a fan to begin with. Or a humorless snob. Maybe both.

Of course, De Niro phoning it in still leaves Zac Efron lost in the distance. The Efron-as-leading-man ship should have sailed long ago; it's only the obstinacy of Hollywood that keeps it in port. He's so far out of his depth that it's a wonder the pressure change hasn't caused him to explode. Here, he's mostly blank eyes and shirtlessness. That said, he's not afraid to commit to a bit; let the kid focus on the comedic supporting roles in which he actually has a chance of success.

As for the rest of the cast, well it's a mixed bag. Deutch has a thankless part, but it's hard not to view her mostly as a female version of Efron. Plaza's over-sexed aggression somehow makes her less attractive; her considerable comedic talents are completely wasted. Hough and Mulroney arepresent. There are a couple of OK background performances Jason Mantzoukas as a happy-go-lucky Daytona drug dealer; Adam Pally as Jason's dirtbag cousin Nick but otherwise, it's mostly blah.

'Dirty Grandpa' is almost painfully unfunny, choosing to rely on overwhelming coarseness rather than any sort of real attempts at humor. Truly, the title is apt, and in more ways than one you'll almost definitely feel dirty after watching.

[0 out of 5]


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