It is time for a reckoning. It is time to stare into the darkest depths of the void and ask a question fundamental to humanity’s future. And that question is: How many movies can Zac Efron make before he triggers the apocalypse? We Are Your Friends is a torment, and his latest movie, Dirty Grandpa, is a brutal soul-crushing exercise from which you will not walk away unscathed. Seeing this movie will change you, it will make you less than you were for it will steal a part of your soul.
Dirty Grandpa stars Efron as Tool, a total tool who works for his father (Dermot Mulroney, here for the check) as a corporate lawyer, and is engaged to Shrew (Julianne Hough), a shrill, demanding Bridezilla because women who care about their weddings are just the worst (see also: Jurassic World). Shortly before Tool and Shrew’s wedding, however, Tool takes off for Florida with his grandpa, Dick—his real name in the movie—who is played by Robert De Niro, who seems to have finally disposed of his dignity. The Intern is misguided but at least it’s sincere and gives De Niro something to do besides spew profanity in the hopes that if he just says “f*ck” enough it will eventually become funny. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.)
Dick has just been widowed after a forty-year marriage in which he was monogamous, which means he hasn’t sex for fifteen years, so now that he is single he is dying to f*ck somebody. He even has his dead wife’s blessing to seek post-marital pussy, which is a plot point no one actually requires. And because he sees Tool getting laced into a life the kid maybe doesn’t actually want for himself, he decides to free his grandson by ruining said life. There is something to this concept—a grandfather going overboard to make a point about life to a grandchild—that has some promise, and indeed, Dirty Grandpa was once on the Black List, which is the final nail in the Black List’s quality coffin. But the final product is so far removed from that glimmer of possibility as to render it nothing more than a cruel illusion, a Fata Morgana produced at minute seventy-seven of this excruciating sh*tpile of moving images I call a “movie” in only the loosest of terms.
Though there are human names attached to this movie, don’t be fooled. Dirty Grandpa was written by toilet graffiti and refrigerator magnets, edited in a blender, and directed by Werner Herzog’s garbage man—it is the ultimate test of Man’s ability to experience despair. Dick’s way of waking Tool up to the mundane reality of his life is to repeatedly humiliate and degrade him, including a running “joke” that involves Dick shoving his thumb up Tool’s butthole which I am pretty sure qualifies as molestation. Don’t worry, though, as there is an actual child molestation “joke”, and a separate sodomy “joke” to boot. None of these “jokes” work, because Dirty Grandpa is not a comedy. It is a torture device.
While traveling to the hallowed Spring Break grounds of Daytona Beach, Dick and Tool run into Tool’s college friend Prize (Zoey Deutch, Vampire Academy, so girl, it’s time for a new agent) and her friend, Whore (Aubrey Plaza). They also have a friend, The Gay (UnREAL’s Jeffrey Bowyer-Champan), who Dick mocks relentlessly, but it’s okay, because he eventually defends The Gay from another bully. You know that old adage—bigotry is fine so long as you defend the object of your scorn and derision from other bigots.
Whore is very into boning Dick, but their sex scenes are awkward and uncomfortable. Not because there is anything inherently wrong with inter-generational banging, it’s more that Whore is constantly the butt of the joke for wanting sex in the first place, let alone wanting sex with an old(er) man. It’s also physically painful to watch a comedic performer as talented as Plaza debase herself in this way. The To Do List showed she can turn sexual situations into funny moments, but none of that ability is on display here, which is less her doing and more about the indifferent direction and garbage editing.
There is an intriguing bit of footage spliced into Dirty Grandpa culled from an entirely different movie which stars Jason Mantzoukas as Pam, a free-wheeling surf-shop owner and drug dealer who has a cheerfully antagonistic relationship with a couple local cops played by Mo Collins (Mad TV) and Henry Zebrowski (Heroes Reborn). I would be very willing to watch a movie starring Mantzoukas as a free-wheeling surf-shop owner and drug dealer named Pam, but Dirty Grandpa snuffs out that other, better premise much as it snuffed out my will to live. This is a thoroughly awful film with no redeeming qualities which is easily within the top five worst movies I’ve ever seen in a theater. Shame on everyone involved. Shame.
Attached - more photos of Efron arriving at Kimmel last week with Sami Miro.