Please, please let’s put a moratorium on k.d. lang jokes. They’re all kinds of stale and not funny. Really, if you just have to write a lesbian-related line into your comedy, come up with something else.
OK, lecture over. Believe it or not, “Dirty Grandpa” rejuvenates the on-screen concept of the horny, foulmouthed senior citizen. In fact, it amazingly combines three movies I didn’t like (“Bad Grandpa,” “Sex Drive,” “Tammy”) into one I sort of did.
As the titular walking hard-on, Robert De Niro really goes for it, and it’s an accomplishment that the veteran actor naming all the members of Wu-Tang and rapping Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day” comes off as appealing instead of desperate. Dick (De Niro)—bonus points for zero jokes about his name, though there are approximately 78 other penis jokes—has just lost his wife, and he isn’t going to let his grandson Jason’s (Zac Efron) impending wedding prevent the two from driving from Atlanta to Daytona Beach. It’s what Dick, who says, “I want to [bleep] until my dick falls off,” claims his wife would have wanted.
Among the many smart—wait, “smart” isn’t the word here; let’s go with “decent”—decisions made by first-time writer John Phillips (who’s also co-writing “Bad Santa 2,” as the guy clearly has a type) is that Dick and Jason have no trouble getting to the destination. It’s not a movie that takes forever to get where it’s going. And the sideline characters are a stitch: Aubrey Plaza plays against type as a sexually aggressive party girl; Adam Pally makes a great worst cousin ever; and Jason Mantzoukas ensures that the inevitable drug-dealer-who-turns-up-everywhere is a welcome source of nonsense instead of an irritant.
Likewise, “Dirty Grandpa” and Dick are unexpectedly likable, though Jason clearly hating his uptight fiancee (Julianne Hough) and hitting it off with an old photography classmate (Zoey Deutch) reeks of the stereotypical demonization of the nag and the romanticization of the cool girl. You wish you could just fast-forward through the whole subplot, and same goes for scenes involving, uh, well … let’s just say “stuffed animal crotch grab” and “penis swastika” and leave it at that.
Through it all, though, is a mix of laughs and guffaws and snorts that neither makes you proud of yourself nor makes you regret giving this fluff a shot.
2.5 stars (out of four)
Worth noting: The opening credits depicting photos of Dick and Jason throughout their lives could not be any more blatantly Photoshopped.
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