Grandpa behaving badly

Robert De Niro (right) and Zac Efron (left) in Dirty Grandpa.
Robert De Niro (right) and Zac Efron (left) in Dirty Grandpa.PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

The story: Lawyer Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is just one week away from marrying his uptight fiancee, Meredith Goldstein (Julianne Hough), who keeps him on a tight leash. Following the death of his grandma, Jason's vulgar rebel-grandpa Dick (Robert De Niro) needs him to drive him home from Georgia to Florida. Unknown to Jason, Dick has plans for him which involve hot college girls.

In terms of inter-generational movie pair-ups, Robert De Niro playing a kindly father figure to Anne Hathaway in The Intern (2015) was sweet. But De Niro portraying Zac Efron's lewd grandfather is just too crude.

The old man spews the F-word freely as an exclamation point and, his sole aim, after the funeral of his beloved wife, is to break his 15-year sex-starved celibacy and bed a willing college girl, Lenore (Parks And Recreation's Aubrey Plaza).

You keep wondering in open- mouthed amazement when De Niro has ever behaved so badly and so ickily. Grandpa Dick takes off his shirt at a muscle flex-off contest with young dudes at a wild Florida beach, performs one-handed push-ups, does gangsta rap and generally likes to jam his rebellious thumb up his working-stiff grandson Jason's backside for some kind of perverted jock-style hilarity.

"What is your obsession with my a**?" the poor boy pleads in a moment of rare honesty.

To be sure, Efron is likeable as the harassed young man here. The nutty 2014 frat-boy comedy Neighbors (2014) is proof of his comedic chops. On his own, naked- dancing the Macarena before ending up stone-drunk sans clothes on the sandy beach, he is quite hysterical.



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Naturally, due to the intervention of his wiser, older granddad, Jason meets the right girl for him, eco- hippie photographer Shadia (Vampire Academy's Zoey Deutch).

While a naughty and lusty old man can have good and corny intentions, Brit director Dan Mazer - who co-wrote Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat (2006) and Bruno (2009) - takes the overaged frat-boy antics too far. A dirty grandfather essayed by a former revered Godfather is just one tasteless joke too many.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'Grandpa behaving badly'. Print Edition | Subscribe