Dirty Grandpa review – Robert De Niro plumbs the comedy depths

The great man’s late career continues to baffle as he plays a widower lusting after bikini-clad young women on a road trip with grandson Zac Efron

This grossout comedy takes De Niro fans into a new emotional phase that I can only call “post-despair”. We are past being astonished and horrified. We are done with futile complaint. We are just numbly resigned to the great man continuing to do things like this, vaguely hoping that through sheer productivity he will have a “Blue Jasmine” moment and pull something out of the bag. Dirty Grandpa isn’t that something – but there are a few gags here, and though De Niro’s ability to play comedy is always debatable, he is more relaxed than we’ve seen him in a while.

The persona here is creepily comparable to his role in the romcom The Intern: the grandpa figure whose life (including his sex life) opens up after he becomes a widower. Following his wife’s funeral, De Niro asks his uptight grandson (Zac Efron) if he will drive him to Florida, and it becomes horribly clear that the old guy is now an outrageous born-again bachelor who yearns to make it with bikini-clad women there on Daytona Beach for spring break. Zac actually catches his grandpa watching porn and having a “number three”. (I was reminded of Tibor Fischer saying that the spectacle of Martin Amis’s decline was like seeing your favourite uncle in the school playground, masturbating.) Some laughs – and some unintentional eeeuuuwwws.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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