Being bad has never felt so good as Robert De Niro and Zac Efron get down and dirtier in this outrageously funny unrated version of Dirty Grandpa! Uptight Jason (Efron) is a week away from marrying his boss's daughter. But everything changes when Jason's fooled into driving his foul-mouthed, free-living granddad (De Niro) to Florida for spring break-and thrown into a series of frat parties, bar fights, and epic misdeeds on a road trip that gives new meaning to family bonding.
'Dirty Grandpa' is heinous, not so much because it's unrelentingly vulgar, but because it doesn't know how to use its vulgarity for comedy. There's desperation at play here. The screenplay reeks of wannabe-ism. R-rated comedies have been hot for quite a while and 'Dirty Grandpa' tries to capitalize on that fact. It forgets, however, that the jokes – not matter how dirty – need to at the very least be funny.
Zac Efron is funny. Much like Channing Tatum, Efron's true talent was unlocked when Hollywood stopped casting him as teen heartthrobs and started putting him in movies like 'Neighbors.' Here his talent for comedy is underutilized. He plays uptight corporate lawyer Jason. The way this movie visually portrays Jason's uptightness is by dressing him in pastel polos and having him wear a loosely-knotted sweater over his shoulder. Clever, eh? They're basically using the same visual cues 'Van Wilder' used to separate the antagonist fraternity dudes from Van Wilder's cool gang.
De Niro, on the other hand, performs his shtick from the Focker movies, only this time around he peppers in many more f-words. He plays Jason's (dirty) grandpa Dick, who takes Jason on a road trip after his wife dies. Jason isn't really close with his grandpa so he sees this as a time to get close to him. Dick, on the other hand, sees this newfound bachelordom as an excuse to party like it's 1969 again.
Aubrey Plaza is thrust into the story as a sexy college student who inexplicably wants to have sex with a college professor – she's just into old people, really. Her character's entire purpose for being is so she can be eye candy for De Niro. Yeesh! Are you surprised it doesn't even come close to sniffing the Bechdel test?
The screenplay is pieced together, haphazardly, appearing as the cinematic version of Frankenstein's monster. At no point does the story become coherent. John Phillips' screenplay doesn't even bother setting up jokes, it just spews forth whatever gross thing comes to its mind. This doesn't bode well for 'Bad Santa 2,' which Phillips is also writing.
In reality 'Dirty Grandpa' is a masterclass in how not to make an adult comedy. It flunks the School of Apatow and neglects to create any characters worth giving a damn about. It doesn't provide any worthwhile conflict or genuine sentimentality in order to provide humanism to comedic caricatures. Once the movie tries to provide a little bit of drama between Jason and Dick it comes across as hollow. The importance of character dynamics and gag construction is completely overlooked here. The comedy is only as good as the characters performing within it. All we know about Jason is that he's an unsatisfied lawyer. All we know about Dick is that he's a horny octogenarian. All we know about the abundance of side characters is absolutely zilch. With such superficial characterization the characters have no motivation.
Jason is about to get married. He seems happy enough in his would-be relationship. Again, we wouldn't really know since the movie doesn't give us any insight into them before Jason takes his road trip. Once we're clued in that Jason might not be too happy getting married you might find yourself wondering why you should care. These characters are floating around rudderless, changing course with whatever prevailing wind takes over.
It's simply a waste of time for viewers to sit through such a mess. Comedy is, indeed, subjective. Yet, 'Dirty Grandpa' remains an objectively bad comedy for all the reasons stated above, and so much more.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a 2-Disc set that comes with a 50GB Blu-ray and a DVD. There is also a copy of an UltraViolet Digital Copy, plus a cardboard slipcover.
Lionsgate's 1080p presentation left a little to be desired. Honestly, with a movie filmed so recently, I was surprised it looked so average on Blu-ray.
Much of the movie appears soft almost out of focus. Long shots are especially hazy. Detail is okay during close-ups, but some detail is washed out in sun-soaked beach scenes. White balance is too hot causing bright whites that wash out edges and detail. Backlit scenes, where characters sit in the foreground and sunlight bleeds in through a window in the background, are the worst. The softness is compounded by the backlight and background objects are almost washed out completely. Color is bright and vibrant though if the sun isn't shining on it. There's a moment in the movie – the strongman contest – where CGI is used on the audience. Oh man, that CGI is bad and it's only worse when enhanced by the high definition.
When the lights are turned down the image looks a little better. It still suffers from soft imaging however. Edges aren't definite. They have a softness to them that is peculiar for a digitally shot film. I noticed some occasional banding too. I can't say that this was a fun movie to watch, or a fun movie to look at.
The DTS-HD Master Audio. 5.1 mix does what it should without providing many bells and whistles. At least it isn't as noticeably disappointing as the video presentation.
Here we get a predictable sound design. A majority of the movie's sounds are featured front and center. Dialogue is clear and perceptible the whole time. Surrounds come to life during raging beach parties. Yells from drunk party goers pipe up in the speakers behind you. There isn't much in the way of LFE, except for at the end during a car chase. Oh, and a few thumps from the sub-woofer while hip-hop songs blare.
Nothing overly impressive here and nothing to bring it down either. It's a solid track for a comedy and it's forgettable all the same.
Audio Commentary – This is actually titled “Filthy Filmmakers Who Have No Shame.” Sigh. Director Dan Mazer is joined by Phillips and some producers in order to provide the thought process that went on during the filming of this movie.
The Filthy Truth: The Making of 'Dirty Grandpa' (HD, 10 min.) – A short featurette about what it was like to work with such a well-known cast. Typical promo fluff.
Daytona Heat (HD, 4 min.) – A fake audition from the film's two inept cops.
Whew! I'm glad that's over. Now we can all get back to pretending 'Dirty Grandpa' doesn't exist and that these likeable actors never did it. There, that's better. And don't worry you're not missing anything because the video presentation isn't great and the audio will just get you by. Skip it.