Take a Drink: every time “Grandpa” says something dirty
Take a Drink: whenever Jason Mantzoukas shows up and saves the movie from total oblivion
Do a Shot: whenever a character drinks
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Five Beers) –
Jason (Zac Efron) is getting married in a week. Before that, though, he must drive his recently widowed Grandpa (Robert DeNiro) home to Florida, for a Grandfather/Son outing. What seemed like it would be a quiet weekend is disrupted when Jason finds his Grandpa has developed a mad libido after the death of his wife, and soon Grandpa is demanding to join the teenagers at Spring Break for parties, drugs, sex, and other bad decisions.
Robert DeNiro is working his ass off in this film. It might be the first time in years I’ve seen him appear to give a shit. That’s a positive motion for him, who has languished for most of the last decade on autopilot, taking unexciting roles and being unexciting in them. But in Dirty Grandpa he makes a definite choice and commits with his soul, even managing some genuine laughs from time to time. It’s too bad that the filmmakers couldn’t build more behind that. The only other actor who manages to be interesting is Jason Mantzoukas, who seems to have been given free rein to say and do pretty much whatever he wants, and he delivers on that.
Let’s first address the concept: between Bad Santa, Bad Words, Bad Teacher, and so on, Dirty Grandpa takes a thing you wouldn’t commonly associate with being filthy, and filths it up a bit. These films are very formulaic, basing themselves around the character doing terrible things and getting away with it, until a point of redemption that makes that character not seem like such a big asshole. DeNiro’s so-named Grandpa isn’t just dirty, he’s an asshole who does assholish things. Making matters worse, his son Zac Efron is an asshole too, and an even bigger one, because he doesn’t think he is one (making him an ignorant asshole). All the characters they meet and befriend are also assholes. So why should we care about anyone involved?
Case. In. Point…
Zac Efron is sorely miscast as the straight-edged grandson that DeNiro seeks to corrupt. This isn’t because Efron doesn’t look the part, as you’ve seen in any screen grab of the film out there, he definitely looks it. What he doesn’t do though is manage to be funny.
Director Dan Mazer can’t seem to figure out how comedy is supposed to play in a movie. Well, that or the editor was actively trying to sabotage the operation. Nearly every instance of humor in the movie is hopelessly ruined by some of the most uncomfortably off-kilter editing decisions I’ve seen in recent memory. It is as if, for a creative exercise, they collectively decided to shoot actors doing funny things in the least humorous way possible.
Robert DeNiro and Jason Mantzoukas were apparently in a better movie that was presumably being filmed by a different crew. When will we get to see that movie?