Film Review: ‘Dirty Grandpa’

Dirty Grandpa trailer
Courtesy of Lionsgate

Robert De Niro hits rock-bottom opposite Zac Efron in this atrocious excuse for a comedy.

When Robert De Niro receives his inevitable lifetime achievement Oscar, don’t expect his highlight reel to include a single clip from “Dirty Grandpa,” a brutally unfunny stab at ribald comedy that stands as the legendary actor’s big-screen nadir. Spouting an endless stream of profane one-liners, each of them more desperate to shock and offend than the last, De Niro gives it his best raunchy effort as a senior citizen who convinces his stuck-up preppy grandson (Zac Efron) to take him to Florida. His commitment to the role, however, is far more than it — or the film — deserves, as its sub-“Hangover” juvenilia is almost as excruciating as its basic construction is sloppy. While its cross-generational leads may attract a few curious moviegoers hungry for some humor, dreary word-of-mouth will likely force this fiasco into early theatrical retirement.

On the day of his wife’s funeral, Dick (De Niro) guilt-trips his grandson Jason (Efron) into helping him honor his late spouse by taking the same journey from Georgia to Boca Raton that they made each year. Though his wedding to prim Meredith (Julianne Hough) is fast approaching, Jason — a corporate lawyer who works for his dad, David (Dermot Mulroney) — reluctantly agrees to this task, only to just about throw up on one of his many polo shirt-and-khaki outfits when he goes to pick up Dick and finds the man pleasuring himself to porn, and casually referring to his climax as “a No. 3.”

Traveling in Meredith’s pink Mini Cooper, which Dick derisively refers to as a “giant labia,” the duo first stop at a golf course, where Dick begins his film-long habit of poking Jason in the ass with objects and/or his finger, all while espousing his consuming need for coitus. That objective is articulated in terms too filthy to repeat in a respectable publication such as this, though the film’s incessant verbal diarrhea is less shocking than merely embarrassing. Constantly deriding Jason as a “lesbian” and bombarding him with pun-based invectives about his lousy performance as a “wingman,” Dick is over-the-top inappropriate in a way that feels hopelessly strained, as if every one of his lines had been diligently crafted by screenwriter John Phillips for maximum oh-no-he-didn’t! effect.

Because he hasn’t had sex in 15 years, and because his dying wife told him to pursue the life he always wanted, Dick is determined to bed a young woman — and he finds that object of carnal desire in Lenore (Aubrey Plaza), a college sexpot whose mouth is almost as filthy as that of De Niro’s hot-to-trot elder. In order to shack up with Lenore, Dick forces a reluctant Jason to take him to Daytona Beach for spring break. Because Lenore is traveling with Shadia (Zoey Deutch), a hot hippie former classmate of Jason’s, the young dork agrees, although Efron seems so perpetually bored by these sensationalistic shenanigans that it’s difficult to tell if he’s even paying attention to the narrative’s who-what-where-when-whys.

What ensues is much X-rated banter between Dick and Lenore, multiple run-ins with a gleefully frank drug dealer named Pam (Jason Mantzoukas) who’s friends with the local cops, and a series of sequences in which Jason is compelled — by Dick, by circumstance, and by illicit substances — to loosen up and have a good time. This means he smokes crack and wears a G-string and a hornet-shaped stuffed animal on his crotch (thus fulfilling Efron’s one-shirtless-scene-per-movie quota), spends a night in jail for alleged pedophilia, and has to talk to his fiance, his family and a rabbi via Facetime while sporting, on his forehead, a crudely drawn swastika made out of penises.

Amid its nonstop nastiness, Phillips’ script feigns interest in character development, with Jason’s discarded dreams of being a Time magazine photographer revived by Dick’s and Shadia’s encouragement, and Dick’s career as a special-forces badass revealed as the reason for his estrangement from son David. The idea that an overseas-stationed Green Beret would act as belligerently low-class as Dick is tough to swallow, though even less palatable is the movie’s aesthetic crumminess. Director Dan Mazer shoots his Sunshine State-situated action in the flattest manner possible, and he edits his material — including De Niro performing an abysmal karaoke version of Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day,” punctuated by his use of the “N” word — with such rushed, herky-jerky awkwardness that it often feels as if the film is actively trying to escape itself.

As befitting such a guy-centric endeavor, women are presented as either chaste angels (Shadia), uninhibited sluts (Lenore) or soul-crushing spousal monsters (Meredith), Meanwhile, Dick’s recurring gay-panic jabs at Jason, as well as his cruel treatment of effeminate Bradley (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman), further emphasizes the sense that “Dirty Grandpa” only respects, or has use for, straight Caucasian men of a certain take-what-they-want caveman variety. After repeatedly belittling Bradley for being both gay and black, Dick heroically rescues him from homophobic bullies — an act meant to illustrate that, deep down, this dirty old man is really a good guy. What it actually indicates, however, is that this contemptible fiasco is not only comfortable courting laughs through ugly mockery of minorities, but also doesn’t even have the courage of its own crass-as-I-wannabe convictions.


Film Review: 'Dirty Grandpa'

Reviewed at Bow Tie Cinemas Landmark 9, Stamford, Conn., Jan. 21, 2016. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 102 MIN.


A Lionsgate release and presentation of a Bill Block Media, QED Intl. and Josephson Entertainment production. Produced by Jason Barrett, Bill Block, Barry Josephson, Michael Simkin. Executive producers, Michael Flynn, John Friedberg, Anton Lessine, Sasha Shapiro.


Directed by Dan Mazer. Screenplay, John Phillips. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Eric Alan Edwards; editor, Anne McCabe; music, Michael Andrews; music supervisor, Kier Lehman; production designer, William Arnold; art director, Jeremy Woolsey; set decorator, David Smith; costume designer, Christie Wittenborn; sound (DTS/SDDS/Dolby Digital); re-recording mixers, Robert Fernandez; visual effects supervisor, Chris LeDoux; visual effects, Crafty Apes; stunt coordinators, Alex Daniels, Mickey Giacomazzi; casting, Amanda Mackey, Cathy Sandrich Gelfond.


Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch, Jason Mantzoukas, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Hough, Danny Glover, Adam Pally, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman.

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  1. Michel says:

    Art, beauty, and in this instance, comedy(? )”isn’t/wasn’t, in the eye of this beholder”.

  2. Maria H Cantú de Hines says:

    So bad I didn’t want to keep watching; it was making me gag.

  3. Vi says:

    Need to get a life, you morons. A perfectly made movie and great cast’s should have win awards but thanks to you morons this movie is shot to shit. #1 just so You know, grandpa is not racists to blacks or gays because he defended a gay black guy to a black guy. #2 just so you know ,grandpa has been good to his wife and country all his life and now he’s having fun this is how you morons judge, please get otta here. #3 so you know ,you didn’t effect me because I still went to watch the movie and LOVED it and also it’s stomach cramping funny. By the way I’m Asian.

  4. Michelle says:

    Terrible, disrespectful to Familys .His wife just dies and the day after hes a horndog…He wants to fuck so bad and at the end when he does f… the collage girl it was gross and a total turn OFF…DISRESPECTFUL AND STUPID MOVIE..DE NERO This is the worst movie you’ve been in.I’ve seen them all.Throw this is Crap pile.Sorry but it Sucked …You need to make a better movie to make this disappointment fade.away.So Disappointed :(

  5. Reverence says:

    You Have Got To Be Kidding Me! This movie is hysterical! We laughed ‘None Stop’ from beginning to end! The Film Review and the comments below must be from people who don’t know how to have fun… Take a cue from the movie! To quote De Niro’s character, “Party ’til Your Pregnant!” Lighten Up People or grow old in a nursing home waiting for the grave…

  6. Antman says:

    I am not sure why everyone keeps referencing frat boys loving this. The minor foil characters in the film are lacrosse playing Caucasian lugs. This film is awkward, tasteless and out of sorts, but it’s funny. Formulaic one liner comedies are the rule now. Some of the jib jab stuff is actually pretty funny. It’s juvenile and blatantly offensive, and that’s fine.

    The popmous stench of this review is much more unbelievable than the film plot. To fathom that there are critics that take the job of reviewing this type of dick and fart film so seriously is very odd. The review is so lazily redundant and cutting, that it is basically a satire of film criticism. Lighten up, or get a job that doesn’t involve reviewing raunchy immature comedies. Cynical overly artful drivel

  7. NDForever says:

    Well, Deniro has perhaps the greatest spread of performances and movie script choices in the history of the movie business. All I can say, We like Ike. But Ike doesn’t like this movie. Pathetic.

  8. Lacey Sheridan says:

    I know that DeNiro is frequently criticized for his late career movie choices, but that seems unfair without knowing his motivations. He may have been less careful with money than he should have been and now wants to provide more for his family. Or, he may be the kind of man who sees a lack of work as a foot in the grave. There’s no way to know.

    Cut him some slack. No matter how terrible the movie, he always brings something to it.

  9. Steven Wells says:

    Heh y’all really hated this movie THAT much? What were you expecting? I thought it was hilarious, but then again, I am a straight, white male. SHAME ON ME.

    • Chriss Martorelli says:

      Shame on you for such stupid mentality, liking a really vulgar slapstick movie with every other word a gratuitous fuck or vagina and girls talking like prostitutes.
      It’s not that I am a prude. The movie stunk! I am embarrassed for De Niro who was a class actor.

  10. Martin Rosol says:

    Dirty Grandpa was the worst movie we have ever seen. WE walked out after 8 minutes. DeNiro should be banned from making any more movies.

  11. angelina says:

    Dirty Grandpa (2016) Full Movie
    Play Now

  12. Nadia Asaa says:

    Today I watched ‘Dirty Grandpa’ movie. It was completely terrible, silly and unsuccessful

  13. jim says:

    If they took out the gay jokes every one would love it.

  14. Cynthia says:

    Bless DeNiros Heart but we all walked out of theatre to get our money back and was told by a Regal Employee that people have been demanding their money back and leaving the movie. Sad that our youth is exposed to this type of immorality – Big Big Big Disappointment – still Love DeNiro

  15. jim says:

    LOL nth degree. Let’s be HONEST if you are an uptight movie critic you will not like.

  16. DIV says:

    Lighten up..its a COMEDY! its in vogue too..just like TRUMP…I LOVED IT..

  17. richard Granahan says:

    Dirty Grandpa – Filthy, mindless garbage. Walked out in middle. Nothing but word pornography; so excessive and unnecessary. What kind of people make a movie like this? Who does it appeal to other than jaded low-lifes. I lost all respect for De Niro and will NEVER see another movie he is in. He was disgraceful. How does he face his own family ?? Can you forward this to him?

  18. This picture Dirty Grampa should be thrown in th e garbage can! That might be to good for it.

  19. Jenqueefa says:

    Hey Hollywood didn’t you get the memo? Stick to making fun of straight white males and straight white males only! You utterly disgusting bigots!

  20. Vance Rockwell says:

    Movies are going the way of television, pandering to the lowest common denominator. The more squalid, the more popular. I have little doubt that this movie will find a huge audience among the “illiterati”.

  21. Britney says:

    Previews looked kinda funny but really? They do crack? Why the hell is that funny? Efron does a dog?? It sounds like immature lame comedy. I’ll pass….

  22. Ann says:

    This movie is disgusting. The way women are represented and stereotyped is unacceptable. What was considered good, is now bad and what was considered bad, is now good. Don’t go see this movie. I walked out of the theater after the first five minutes and got my money back. I couldn’t take the vulgarity any longer. Shame on you Robert DeNiro! How could you lower yourself to do this kind of movie? Shame on you! I always thought you were more classy than this. Don’t go see this movie!

  23. dave says:

    Best movie of this year that i have seen so far. Keep up the good work Robert De Niro. I rate it a ten.

  24. ohiograndma says:

    I’ll admit it: we laughed like crazy and yes, it’s awful. It’s juvenile. One disgusting line after another but honestly, don’t you sometimes LIKE that kind of movie? It will have a very narrow audience but some people will enjoy the heck out of it – like me and my husband. You might want to wear a brown paper bag over your head though. You know. So nobody judges you about the movies you see.

  25. Jeff says:

    This review makes the movie sound better than I expected. Too bad Bob is so desperate for money. He needs a better accountant.

  26. HardcoreLaCour says:

    I admittedly had absolutely no desire to see this movie.. until after I read this terrible review! Sounds like something my dad (late 60’s, kinda out of his mind) would find hilarious. Efron blows in everything he does (unfortunately, so does DeNiro nowadays) but laughing at asinine, boorish, nonsense with my father sounds like a pretty enjoyable hour and a half. eople need to lighten up.. Will it be terrible? YEP. But who cares? Why berate people who think they may enjoy it? Comedy’s that I really really enjoy have TERRIBLE reviews and Rotten Tomatoes scores (Macgruber and Super Troopers come to mind). Do we really have to be so PC about what we find funny/titillating now?

  27. Public Hairs says:

    “Dirty Grandpa” is garbage!! Even seeing Zack Efron parading around naked on crack getting raped by a dog couldnt save this garbage of a movie.

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  29. Janie Jones says:

    It was hilarious, just go to the movies for a few hours of escapism, what’s wrong with you guys? I’m not a frat boy or Rush L. radio fan. I couldn’t stand DeNiro in those Meet The Parents flicks, at least this has laughs & sweetness at the end. Lighten up!

  30. RNeary says:

    Will wait for Netflix… on second thought, I think I’ll skip it there too. Life’s too short.

  31. james heckel says:

    This review is so bad that now I’ve just got to see it!

  32. Ben says:

    What happened to Zac Efron? His face is not the slightest bit attractive anymore.
    With that last DJ movie bombing- now this one, not sure how long his movie career will last.

  33. Lex says:

    Maybe Nick Schager would have enjoyed the movie more if he had pulled that stick out of his ass.

  34. taffy says:

    Judging from this review, Nick Schager is a pajama boy with zero sense of humor and a whole lot of white SJW guilt.

  35. JustLookAtIt says:

    This movie was hilarious. You sir, are a lonely hater

    • Nope. Pretty much everybody hated it. Currently pulling an abysmal 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. Only peurile frat-boy types who believe Rush Limbaugh is the height of intellectual rigor, like garbage like this.

    • Marie says:

      Or expressing an opinion.

      • Ryan says:

        Enjoy The Revenant. I’m not a Rush fan nor a frat boy you ignorant hate filled sheep. I enjoyed the one liners from a movie I was expecting one liners from. I can’t wait to see Bad Santa 2 now because of this one.

  36. jahwoo says:

    That review read like a Wikipedia page. I now know the movie front to back without having to spend the time to watch it.


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