Review: Dirty Grandpa – Actually quite good

Dan Mazer’s Dirty Grandpa puts a hilarious spin on the classic, sleazy Spring Break film. Sun, booze, a topless Zac Efron, and one dirty Grandpa make this an intensely funny and harmlessly predictable comedy.

The storyline itself is one we’ve all heard before. Jack Kelly (Zac Efron) has followed his father’s wishes to become a lawyer and marry the prim and proper Jewish girl, Meredith (Julianne Hough). In doing this he has left his own dream of becoming a photographer behind, presenting the audience with a cliched young-man-at-crossroads character – queue the extravagant adventure to find himself.

Jack and Meredith are the kind of couple that make you want to stab your eyes out as they flash immaculate smiles and pour themselves another glass of extortionately priced champagne. It is a God-send when Dick Kelly (Robert de Niro), Grandpa, widower, and unexpected party animal, enters to liven things up and make Jack realise what he has been missing out on. He takes on the role of mischievous best friend by tricking him into a weekend of partying in Florida.

De Niro is hilarious from the offset, dishing out as many puns as he has wrinkles. Despite regularly repeated jokes and long spiels of childish insults, his crude character compliments Efron’s perfectly, preventing the humour from feeling over-worked or cringey. The duo become wingmen in a mission to get Dick laid and reunite Jack with his school crush, Shadia (Zoey Deuch). Dick is given a run for his money by college flirt Lenore, (Aubrey Plaza), whose character is equally, if not more, crude and inappropriate than him, with an undertone of much needed sarcasm. If you want someone to greet you, vagina first, she is your girl. Combined, the two are undeniably funny, pushing Efron and his soppy romance into the background.

aubrey plaza
The film’s funniest relationship is between Lenore (Aubrey Plaza) and Dick (Robert De Niro)

It is only as Jack is bought out of his shell (with the help of a spiked drink and a bit of crack cocaine) that his character becomes more entertaining. He brings a whole new meaning to ‘getting buzzed’ as he dances around naked with only a toy hornet strapped to his junk. No one is complaining. Unfortunately, by this point, Mazer seems to have used every humorous scenario in the book, resulting in many unnecessary father/son, or rather grandpa/grandson, heart to hearts which are accompanied by eye-rollingly emotional acoustic guitar. Rather than providing a breather from what was teetering on farcical, these scenes simply drag. It is painfully obvious what each character is thinking and what ridiculous activity is to follow, without the pair discussing it while sipping on a glass of whisky.

Luckily, De Niro manages to maintain a level of light-heartedness throughout these moral interjections, picking up the comedy whenever it is as risk of drowning in the pool. With the aid of a few more topless Efron scenes, which you can never be short of, the film is every crude-minded viewer’s dream, with as many outrageous one-liners as there are girls in minuscule bikinis.

Megan Fryer

Images courtesy of Lionsgate

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