Directed by: Dan Mazer
Produced by: Bill Block
Screenplay by: John M. Phillips
Starring: Robert De Niro
Music by: Michael Andrews
Cinematography by: Eric Alan Edwards
Editing by: Anne McCabe
Studio(s): Billblock Media
Distributed by: Lionsgate
Release date(s): January 22, 2016 (United States)
January 25, 2016 (United Kingdom)
Running time: 102 minutes
Country: United States
Production budget: $11.5 million
Box-office revenue (as of publication): $99, 930, 262
Today's film up for review is Dirty Grandpa, a film which in the relatively short life-span it's had since it's release last January has already notched itself up quite the notorious reputation. It has has earned itself absolutely scathing reviews from critics (Mark Kermode even went so far as to name it his worst film of 2016), and with five nominations is one of the big players at the upcoming Golden Raspberry Awards. However, it was a profitable picture, making nearly $100 million off of an $11 million budget, so studio executives will probably use that as some phoney excuse to add to the whole 'critics don't know anything about audiences argument.' What I always say to that one is that just because people went to see the film doesn't mean that they liked it, just look at Batman V Superman - Dawn Of Justice (a review for which will be coming soon). Okay, context out of the way, story goes that Jason Kelly (Zac Efron), a corporate attorney with an attractive but uptight and demanding fiancee Meredith Goldstein (Julianne Hough), attends his grandmother's funeral, where he reunites with now-widowed grandfather Dick (Robert De Niro). Much to the chagrin of his wedding-planning fiancee, Dick, who used to share a close relationship with his grandson, wishes for Jason to drive him from his home in Georgia to Boca Raton, Florida. However, as we find out, this is all part of Dick's plan to fulfil his dying wife's wishes that he get back out there and live life to it's fullest, and so Jason and Dick end up on the road, getting involved in all manner of shenanigans. Got it? Good!
To start off with the good, and I have to say there is a certain degree of good, I like the principal actors. For those who don't know, I kind of hero worship Bob De Niro for the performances he gave in films by Martin Scorsese and his continued success since then. Even recently, though few and far between, he's done some good work in the likes of David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook and Joy. Also, I like Zac Efron quite a bit and have a real fondness for the High School Musical films. The two leads also share a solid onscreen chemistry that in itself leads to some of the film's better moments. Also, I think that Zoey Deutch (who really seemed to break out in 2016), although not given much to do, is sweet and rather endearing in her part as Shadia. Furthermore, I do have to say that for the first forty or fifty minutes of the film, although I recognised it's inherent outrageousness and attempts to appeal to the shock factor, I kind of enjoyed it. It wasn't sliced bread, but there were some funny individual scenes, particularly in the interplay of the exchanges between De Niro and Efron.
That being said, it's a shame that one of the greatest actors ever to grace the screen and a young actor more than capable of holding his own, who'll no doubt have a fine career of his own, degrade themselves in such a manner by starring in this film. As I said, I did kind of enjoy it at first, but I got to a point with the movie, and I can tell you where exactly it was, it was with the entry of the Keystone Cops into the fray, that I realised, amidst a ghastly, absolutely hideous scene, this series of face-pulling snarky remarks which feels more like a dreadfully drawn-out collection of outtakes from the gag reel, that the film had roughly an hour left in it. It was then that I realised I was in for the proverbial bumpy night, and not a Bette Davis bumpy night, but a trainwreck, which for those of you who haven't seen Dirty Grandpa is one of the only fair ways of being able to give you an idea of just how bad it gets. I hope that Michael Andrews got paid a decent amount of money for his work, because he's a talented composer and the poor bastard deserves it for having to sit through this and write music for it. Still, no amount of money can hide the disinterest in the sonic soundscape of murder-by-numbers musical compositions which simply follow the lines and connect the dots together. There's nothing to distinguish it any way, and it's one of those scores that feels the need to attempt to subconsciously cue us into laughing. Poor form. Also, for all the flash and flourish of the camera work and the locations, it's still a fairly ugly film to look it. It just doesn't look like any of these characters are inhabiting anything that closely resembles the real world. Ultimately, the real sinners here are the producers, writer and director. It's scary to think not just that people actually spent time concocting this sort of thing up, but that people shovel this shit out to audiences and consider this a movie that is considered to be in a presentable and completed form. It's a badly-stitched together patchwork of sketches at best. I alluded earlier to the drawn out scene involving the Keystone Cops, but there's about four or five instances of this in the film, turning a throwaway one-liner/gag into a two/three-minute scene, which brings me to my other point. Now I left this for a while before reviewing so I could appropriately gathered my thoughts. I did think that the running time was a problem, but I was shocked to discover that it was closer to my coveted one hundred minutes than two hours, because it certainly felt every bit of two hours. The filmmakers who are largely responsible for the templates of contemporary mainstream comedy, the ZAZ (Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker) trio and John Hughes, stuck stringently throughout the 1980s to the eighty-ninety minute mark, Hughes cutting his films down from two-and-a-half and, in the case of Planes, Trains And Automobiles, a three-hour workprint, and their movies are none the worse for it. I know it's a sore spot and a bit of a bone to pick with me, but I'm getting cross with watching movies with overlong running times. It's one thing having some inherent flaws, but this is a worrying trend in contemporary cinema.
There were certain things I liked about Dirty Grandpa, namely the chemistry between Robert De Niro and Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch's work and the fact that for the first forty or fifty minutes it's a relatively funny film, but boy does it go off at the deep end. It's not as consistently bad as, say, Fifty Shades Of Black, but it's still an utter dirge of a film. It's a shameful, gross, nauseating piece of work. It's scary to think that this at one stage made the Black List, because if it was anything resembling a quality comedy at that stage, it certainly isn't any more. Grot!
The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 2.1/10
The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Sweet