Okay, I’ll say that I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to watching this movie. I’ve made it clear in the past how I feel about Zac Efron in comedies. I get it. His looks are a draw, and he has a certain charisma that other looks-first actors may not possess (I’m looking at you Taylor Lautner). But he’s replaceable in almost every circumstance I’ve seen him in. He’s definitely NOT a comedic actor. I laughed a lot in Dirty Grandpa. But none of it was due to Efron’s “talents”. You can claim chemistry, but his opposite in this film is Robert Deniro, so that’s a tough argument to prove no matter which actor is alongside the legend.
Dirty Grandpa follows a young lawyer in Efron. I can’t remember his characters name, but it really doesn’t matter. He’s engaged to Julianne Hough, who likes to do things like pick out his outfits for every social event and make him drive her pink girly car. From the opening moments, you have his entire story arc mapped out.
Efron’s grandmother has just passed away, and a week before his own wedding he is chosen by his grandfather (Deniro) to drive him down to Florida for arbitrary and contrived movie reasons. Along the way, the two of them cross paths with some co-eds who like to party (Aubrey Plaza and Zoey Deutch). Deniro, newly widowed, wants to join them, but Efron’s stodginess makes him acquiescent. The rest is capering.
Despite Efron’s lack of comedic ability, Dirty Grandpa is still pretty funny. Deniro is both brilliant and crude. His persona doesn’t allow for the new style of everything-goes, disorganized humor. There’s a cohesiveness to it. The comedy is politically incorrect and the jokes are neither stale nor overdone.
The film has a surprising amount of insight, comparing marriage from both sides of the coin. But while it has depth, its characters don’t, unfortunately. You grasp their archetypes, but there’s just not much to any of them.
If you allow yourself, you’ll enjoy Dirty Grandpa. It doesn’t have to be raunchy to be funny, and that’s where its strengths lie–despite its salacious premise.