‘Dirty Grandpa’ sets the bar low for 2016

Oh, how far Robert De Niro’s career has fallen.

His latest appearance in “Dirty Grandpa,” directed by Dan Mazer and starring De Niro and Zac Efron, can barely be called a movie.


Dick Kelly, the titular dirty grandpa, is reeling off the death of his wife. Well into senior-citizen status, Dick realizes he doesn’t have a lot of time left.

He convinces his grandson, Jason Kelly, played by Efron, to take him on a trip to see an old war buddy in Florida. On the verge of his wedding, Jason reluctantly agrees and regrets it immediately when his grandfather’s true intentions of having sex with a younger woman come out.

Jason now must find a way to reel in his grandpa, and come to terms with his unfulfilling life.  

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If you are reading this and considering seeing this movie, please do not. Even if you are in the theater, waiting to see this god-awful film, leave and go see anything else.

Watching the theater attendants close up would be better than watching “Dirty Grandpa.”   

This movie has a huge storytelling problem.


Saying that this film’s narrative was poorly constructed is an understatement. One might inaccurately state that comedies do not need a well-told story, but plot-driven comedies like “Groundhog’s Day” are evidence to the contrary. There seems to be very little attempt to tell an actual story in “Dirty Grandpa.”

Bits and pieces of this movie are dedicated to Jason and Dick Kelly’s miss opportunities. A valiant storyline for a better movie, but this film overshadows it with awful penis puns, homophobia and racial stereotypes — all of which fail repeatedly. Eventually, you forget any character had an arch or development at all.

“Dirty Grandpa” tries way too hard to be funny.

This movie is the equivalent to a little kid learning a curse word. He or she will hear the word, spout it off and get a laugh from all the adults. But at a certain point, the child keeps saying the word and anyone passed a 4-year-old’s mindset gets annoyed.

The jokes from this movie seem to be taken from a rejected pile of gags left from awful comedies like “The Hangover 3.” If there is a penis joke to be said, this movie says it and with no setup. It is the type of film that finds an old man saying the N-word hilarious — that’s pretty much all you need to know.

Dick Kelly might be the worst, most unsympathetic character of the year.

Characters can be bad people. Walter White, Darth Vader; the best kind of characters are flawed ones, sometimes people who have no sympathetic qualities. Dick Kelly does so much awful acts, he can barely be called a character.

The minds behind this movie seem to not want to give De Niro, one of the greatest actors in recent memory, an actual personality to work with. Instead, the actor becomes a puppet for gimmicks and lame jokes. The writers probably thought they struck gold when someone pitched “Hey, let’s have De Niro rap!” or “How about he just calls someone fat for no reason?”

The only reason “Dirty Grandpa” even gets a one out of five is comedians like Adam Pally and Jason Mantzoukas trying to save this movie.

Even Efron tries his best to elevate this movie, serving as possibly the only competent main actor.

He gives the character of Jason Kelly his all, making him somewhat likable, no matter what the filmmakers throws at him to ruin it.

Unfortunately, there is nothing any of them can do.      

Stars: 1 out of 5