Dirty Grandpa

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I’m a tough critic when it comes to comedy. I hated Bad Santa and Meet the Fockers (with Robert De Niro), but I think the fact that I liked a silly, raunchy comedy like Neighbors shows that if it makes me laugh, it doesn’t have to be Some Like it Hot, Tootsie, or Midnight Run (the best comedy De Niro will ever do).

Neighbors had Zac Efron in a scene throwing a “Robert De Niro” themed party, so I was intrigued by the fact that he’d now be starring in a movie with De Niro playing his grandfather.

The first 15 minutes were so unfunny and bizarre (De Niro not only being caught masturbating, but then holding a conversation with Efron as he finished)…I figured this movie had no hope. The few reviews I saw attacked it, and I was thinking the same. Then something happened. Things started getting funny. Sure, it was lowbrow humor, but I was cracking up. Every time Efron, as stuffy lawyer Jason Kelly, tries to explain what he does to various party girls (“Mostly SEC compliance and LCC agreements”), I’d laugh. That bit never got old.

Here’s the basic story. Kelly’s grandmother dies and his grandfather (De Niro) decides he needs to go to Florida to do some golfing, and have lots of sex. It reminded me a bit of Sideways in that regard. Kelly is about to get married, and that subplot should’ve just been scrapped. His Jewish fiancée (Julianne Hough) nags him nonstop, and we realize he’s not really in love with her. That means when he runs into a former classmate (Zoey Deutch), who shares his interest in photography — they want the audience to be rooting for that romance. It’s also supposed to give De Niro a bit of heart by wanting what’s best for his grandson. But really, it should’ve just stuck to being a crazy comedy and kept the jokes flying.

Aubrey Plaza goes against type as the party girl, although she still has that dry, sarcastic wit she usually brings to the characters she plays. A lot of her sexual innuendos got old (no pun intended), but many worked. You thought it was risqué when Juliette Lewis sucked De Niro’s thumb in Cape Fear…wait until you see what Plaza does to him.

Danny Glover has a brief scene as an old Army buddy in a nursing facility. It has mixed results.

Jason Mantzoukas (The League) has a lot of good lines as the local drug dealer (who also runs a gift shop and ice cream truck).

Dermot Mulroney plays De Niro’s son, who runs the law firm that Efron is working at. De Niro resents the fact that his son turned the grandson into the son he wanted, instead of him pursuing his own goals.

There were probably more jokes in this that didn’t land than ones that did, but I’m guessing I laughed at least 25 times. In the last Tina Fey/Amy Poehler movie Sisters, I may have laughed five times. In the comedy/drama Joy, I laughed twice.

Rapper Ice Cube may be complaining that his movie Straight Outta Compton only got one Oscar nomination, but I have to think he’ll be thrilled seeing De Niro do one of his songs in karaoke. I thought it was funnier hearing him rattle off the band members of the Wu-Tang Clan.

There were a few running gags that I can’t imagine anybody thinking were humorous (De Niro constantly sticking his thumb up Efron’s butt), but many worked. The many names De Niro would come up with for Efront (kd Lang, Cocky McBlockerson, Bubba Twatson, Alan Douche-a-witz, to name a few).

And for those that were impressed with the push-ups and pull-ups Mark Wahlberg did in the recent Daddy’s Home…well, Granddaddy looked pretty good doing a few as well. And with him always chompin’ on a cigar and beating up a bunch of guys in a parking lot…you’ll sometimes think of Cape Fear.

Listen, I’m not proud at the fact that I laughed so much during this movie. There’s no reason somebody passing out from booze (or drugs) and waking up with a penis drawn on their face should be funny. Yet it happened twice in this, and it was funny both times.

Robert De Niro was in Joy, which is a comedy/drama that may have only had one or two funny scenes in it. There’s absolutely no reason that disappointing movie should be praised by critics and this torn apart by them. It’s a raunchy comedy. If those types of films aren’t for you, skip it.

That being said, De Niro should really take a break from all the bad comedies he’s gotten involved with over the last decade. It’s a shame that he probably won’t be remembered as one of the best actors ever, if he continues down this path.

This gets 2 1/2 stars out of 5.

2 comments

  • Bee

    Actors of fully Jewish background: Logan Lerman, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julian Morris, Adam Brody, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Gabriel Macht, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Lisa Kudrow, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Debra Messing, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Margarita Levieva, Elizabeth Berkley, Halston Sage, Seth Gabel, Corey Stoll, Mia Kirshner, Alden Ehrenreich, Debra Winger, Eric Balfour, Emory Cohen, Jason Isaacs, Jon Bernthal, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy.

    Andrew Garfield and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are Jewish, too (though I don’t know if both of their parents are).

    Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dave Franco, James Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Joaquin Phoenix, River Phoenix, Emmy Rossum, Ryan Potter, Rashida Jones, Jennifer Connelly, Sofia Black D’Elia, Nora Arnezeder, Goldie Hawn, Ginnifer Goodwin, Amanda Peet, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Kinnaman, Ben Barnes, Patricia Arquette, Kyra Sedgwick, Dave Annable, and Harrison Ford (whose maternal grandparents were both Jewish, despite those Hanukkah Song lyrics).

    Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: Ezra Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, Nicola Peltz, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Winona Ryder, Michael Douglas, Ben Foster, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nikki Reed, Zac Efron, Jonathan Keltz, Paul Newman.

    Oh, and Ansel Elgort’s father is Jewish, though I don’t know how Ansel was raised. Robert Downey, Jr. and Sean Penn were also born to Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers. Armie Hammer and Chris Pine are part Jewish.

    Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism: Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

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