The day after Jason’s (Zac Efron) grandma died, he is supposed to take his grandpa, Dick (Robert De Niro) to his house in Boca Raton. Jason is reluctant to make the trip. His rehearsal brunch for his wedding to Meredith (Julianne Hough) is in a few days and he has never had a relationship with his grandpa. Since Dick’s license has been taken away due to his age, Jason reluctantly agrees.
On the way to Boca, Jason and Dick run into Shadia (Zoey Deutch), a girl Jason went to college with, and her friends, Lenore (Aubrey Plaza) and Tyrone (Brandon Mychal Smith). Looking to make up for lost time and take advantage of his new freedom, Dick makes plans to have some fun. Jason, being the uptight guy he is, wants none of it. Dick is determined to make it happen.
Robert De Niro has proven he can handle comedy. In this movie, he is basically playing his character from Meet the Parents, only this time he is looking for fun. And by fun, I mean sex. Zac Efron is no stranger to comedy. Having shown that he can handle raunchy comedies (see Neighbors), I was a little disappointed with him in this film. Zac is the straight man for once. It isn’t a role that suits him well in a comedy. They try a little too hard to make him a prude. That’s not to say he completely fails, he just isn’t as funny as I know he can be. Similarly, Julianne Hough comes off as a little much as they try to make her a typical bridezilla.
While there are definitely some funny scenes, they are too few and far between. The filmmakers try to push the envelope too far, being raunchy for raunchy’s sake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for crude humor. It was just a little too much. Too many jokes that don’t hit. Too many scenes that are just completely implausible and ridiculous. (Most of these involve drug dealer Tan Pam (Jason Mantzoukas) and the local police.) And one scene that could have given the film some motivation and direction is treated as a throw away and never thought of again. The scenes that do work, work really well. I just wish there were more.
Overall, Dirty Grandpa isn’t a bad film. The high school/college crowd that appreciates crude comedies (or anyone who likes a naked Zac Effron) will probably love it. Those who expect a little smarter comedy will quickly grow tired of the vulgar to be vulgar approach. Definitely wait for the RedBox on this one. It could have been so much better.