When it's time to hand out laurels at the end of the year, early releases sometimes slip under the radar. So here's hoping that the January release of "Dirty Grandpa" doesn't prevent critics from remembering the film when they make up their Worst Movies of 2016 lists, because it is truly deserving.
The film seems designed to see just how much further degradation
In "Dirty Grandpa," it appears that screenwriter John Phillips opened Final Draft and typed as many expletives, words for genitalia and gross, unfunny brand-based puns as he could think of — several dozen times. With set pieces recycled from old episodes of "MTV's Spring Break" and the running themes of masculinity panic, homophobia, racial stereotypes and casual references to sexual assault (these couldn't, in fairness, be described as "jokes"), there you have "Dirty Grandpa." The plot follows Richard (De Niro) as he hijacks his uptight grandson Jason (
It goes without saying that the film is offensive, playing fast and loose with taboos such as the N-word, anti-Semitism, prison rape and child molestation, not to mention the treatment of women as mere orifices. But none of this is rendered in a particularly funny or novel way — just crude, shocking statements. Therefore, the film isn't actually offensive because it's trying so hard to be and failing miserably.
Much of "Dirty Grandpa'"s ire is directed at white males. Richard and everyone else constantly shame Jason for his slick, metrosexual/corporate lawyer life, with a continual gag referring to him as a "lesbian." Efron submits gamely to the debasement, which often results in his nudity or an emasculating wardrobe.
Directed by Dan Mazer, the filmmaking is sloppy. Most of the scenes make little sense. Day is suddenly night, photos appear on a camera mysteriously, characters contradict themselves. Punchlines don't land, and there's an overreliance on the trope of slow-motion walking to a cool song. And even that's not well executed.