A truly wild ride, Dirty Grandpa is a raucous road trip movie. Bad language and some off-humour 'jokes' may shock!
Young, buttoned-up, conservative lawyer Jason Kelly (Zac Efron) is in the final stages of preparation for a picture-perfect wedding to his seemingly ideal fiancé Meredith Goldstein (Julianne Hough) when Jason’s beloved paternal grandmother passes. Though it’s the week before his big day, everyone’s concerned for Grandpa Dick (Robert De Niro), suddenly alone for the first time after 40 years of marriage.
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After the funeral, Dick asks if Jason can drive him to Florida the following day where he can grieve in the solace at their beloved getaway home. Knowing that Dick’s license has been suspended – and with the promise that he’ll be back the next day – Jason reluctantly agrees.
Once the trip begins, Grandpa’s true agenda emerges and it’s decidedly not one of him moping silently in a car. Between the golf detour, the cigar chomping, hard drinking, and the Daytona Beach detour that goes completely off the rails, Jason quickly learns that the grandpa he knows and loves is not exactly the man Jason thought he was.
Yet the pair’s crazy, debauched and revealing road trip will help Jason come to grips with who he is too – which may be an even bigger surprise. With these very different blood relatives, learning something about how life should be lived turns out to be a two-way street.
Actor Zac Efron on working with De Niro
“It’s every guy’s dream to work with Bob De Niro,” says Efron. “I was really curious how we would work together. He’s been doing this for so long, he’s such an icon, yet I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do a role like this. The day I heard this could potentially happen, every antenna went up. It was like, ‘Could I even work with this guy?’ Our histories are so different! There’s Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, and then there’s me, High School Musical!”
Efron continues, “Being such a big fan, it was an opportunity to learn from one of the absolute greatest actors that’s ever lived. He’s such a presence on camera – formidable and dramatic and real – that when he applies all those talents and skill to comedy, the screen just blows up. I would break constantly because the stuff that would come out of his mouth was insane. Then the movie ended up being really cool, so it was a double win.”
Zac Efron notes that as packed with laughs as it is, the undercurrent of family bonding and self-expression in Dirty Grandpa gives the comedy a richer texture. “At the end of the day, the movie is about family coming back together, and about being set free,” says Efron. “It’s a story of growth and happiness. It’s just that the road there is ridiculously funny and chaotic.”
Chemistry between the actors
As with all road trip films, chemistry between actors is essential. When filming commenced, it became quickly apparent that De Niro and Efron were ready to have fun with the material and came ready to play.
Producer Bill Block recalls, “It was wonderful to see Zac and Bob laughing after and sometimes during a take. They shared a warmth, camaraderie and mutual respect playing this together.”
De Niro like you’ve never seen him before!
Witnessing his outrageous screenplay come to life was a thrill for writer John M. Phillips, an experience he will not soon forget. “Hopefully audiences will appreciate seeing Robert De Niro and Zac Efron in roles you’ve never seen them play before. The fact that Robert De Niro has said these ridiculously crass things I’ve written has been a great accomplishment for me, one in which I will lord over my friends and enemies for the rest of my life,” jokes Phillips.
For director Dan Mazer, the experience of working on a film based on a hilarious script with the calibre of participating talent was a thrill. “Every day I rang home to my wife and told her about the unbelievable things I asked Robert De Niro to do on a daily basis. Entering a dialogue with the greatest actor of my generation about how his character might do offensive things – is a moment that will never leave me.” Mazer adds, “My life just might have peaked at that point.”
“Audiences can look forward to seeing a film that is more outrageous and extreme than they can possibly imagine given that it stars Robert De Niro and Zac Efron, but underneath all the debauchery is a real heart and real soulfulness that feels hand-in-hand with this kind of edgy humour.” Mazer says.
All road trips lead somewhere. But in this case, it’s a destination of understanding, growth and bonding that points the way forward for both Dick and Jason, who come to realise how much they had to learn from each other.
There may not be many dignified moments on their journey, but the ultimate indignity is tolerating a life you don’t want, and that’s where Jason grows the most from hanging out with his one-of-a-kind Dirty Grandpa.
WARNING: With a MA 15+ rating there is crass humour and 'bad language' galore so definitely leave the grandkids at home. This isn’t going to be an Oscar winning performance for Robert De Niro but if you feel like a laugh and have a very off-beat sense of humour (think outrageous comedian Sacha Baron Cohen) then give it a whirl!
This is Meet the Parents on steroids! Australian release date is 28th January 2016
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