The second most surprising thing about “Dirty Grandpa” was that I was seeing it, at all, tonight, as this wasn’t my original intention.
The very most surprising thing about “Dirty Grandpa” was how much I actually enjoyed it.
My original plan for this weekend was to go out of town to visit my nieces, tomorrow (Friday), and see “The Boy” on the way. Then, the threat of snow happened. I’m supposed to have 12″-18″of snow in my town, tomorrow. That eliminates any chance of going anywhere out of town and even going anywhere *in* town, this weekend. So, plan B: see the Thursday preview of “The Boy” and check that one off my list.
Except there was no Thursday preview of “The Boy”.
So, see “The 5th Wave” or “Dirty Grandpa”? I had a long day at work and I’ve been seeing a lot of heavy-handed Oscar bait films, lately. Of those two choices, “Dirty Grandpa” was both the shortest and the lightest, so my choice was made.
Going in, I knew that I liked De Niro as well as most everybody else does, I knew that Aubrey Plaza makes me laugh when she appears on “Conan”, and that I had no particular opinion about Zac Efron, one way or the other. I also don’t typically see a lot of comedies in the theater. I have no issue with comedies, as a rule, or anything. But most of the time, I just don’t find them all that funny. There are certainly exceptions, but I’m a pretty tough laugh, so they don’t come all that often.
I saw “Dirty Grandpa”. And I laughed.
I like wit. Wit and originality is what works for me when it comes to comedy. And, for the most part, believe it or not, that’s what this film delivers. When it goes too big – too high concept – with the attempts at humor, it mostly falls flat. And there was one particular character who I got and knew in my head should be making me laugh, but it just wasn’t happening. Also, drug humor has never really worked for me (mostly because it’s almost always just a variation of the same “somebody who normally doesn’t do drugs does drugs and does crazy things” joke and there’s one scene of that here). And, finally, there are a few instances in which a (good) joke is made using some sort of reference (an older movie, perhaps) and then, later, a completely unrelated joke is made using the same reference, taking a bit of the bite off of the second joke. But those things all make up maybe 25% of the movie.
The rest of the film is primarily comprised of fantastic dialogue and one-liners. And you’ll love them as long as you aren’t too uptight and understand that comedy generally isn’t meant to be taken seriously. This movie and these characters aren’t trying to send any messages or make any statements or exist as a meta social commentary. They’re just saying really witty things that – if meant to be taken seriously and aimed at real people – would normally be horribly offensive. As it stands, they’re just hilarious, outside-the-box ways to insult different people and pretty much the entire world. And no harm is meant. If you’re offended by everything and everyone around you, don’t bother seeing this one.
And the added value element, here, is just seeing Robert De Niro in this kind of role. He’s obviously done comedy before but nothing like this. At least not to my immediate recollection. And he nails it because he’s De Niro.
If you want to get Film Snob about it, the story plays out using typical and predictable clichés for these types of movies. But, honestly, so what? Why should anybody care? People aren’t seeing this and hoping for a gripping tale of heroism, spiritual growth, and an allegory for the meaning of life. They want to laugh at a (mostly)smart, (completely) raunchy comedy. Unless the jokes go over your head or you’re a prude, then that’s what will happen.
Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to see “The Boy”, next week. Until then, stay safe and warm if you’re joining me in the battle against the elements!