Dirty Grandpa (2016)

 

Released: January 22, 2016. Directed by: Dan Mazer. Starring: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch. Runtime: 1hr 42 min.

This comedy feels like screenwriter John Phillips lost a bet and since he lost, he had to write a screenplay with filthy joke after filthy joke. Dirty Grandpa is the result.

This follows Jason Kelly (Zac Efron), a boring corporate lawyer who’s about to get married to the most basic, control freak fiancé to come on film this year, named Meredith (a forgettable Julianne Hough).

Jason’s grandma just died and he now has to drive his ex-Special Forces grandfather, an appropriately named Dick (Robert De Niro), down to Florida, hoping to prolong the tradition of going down to Florida this time of year. While Jason has to be home for the rehearsal dinner, Dick begins to show his true colours and tricks Jason to Daytona Beach for spring break.

Raunchy and offensive, and just about as crude as it can get at every turn, Dirty Grandpa fails in just about every respect. It shouldn’t be confused with Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, because that’s actually funny in its own mischievous way.

I hope me not liking the film makes me sound like every old white critic out there that didn’t like the film because it’s offensive. I’m only 21, damn it!

But I’m the target audience, and I found this to be a pointless experiment in shocking the audience at every turn.

DeNiro’s Dick Kelly is an unlikable, racist, homophobic, perverted old fart who also has an obsession with poking Efron’s Jason in the butt and twisting his nipples. This grandpa is so awful, he makes me want to call my own grandfathers and thank them for not being perverted old freaks.

The film was super uneven in its tone, which was frustrating. It wanted to be balls to the wall crude, but also shoved dramatic pieces in there. They’re heartwarming when they come – but only a minute later, it’s interrupted by a De Niro stunt penis on Zac Efron’s pillow or De Niro arbitrarily commenting on Andre the Giant’s massive fingers and what he can do with them in the bedroom.

The bizarre crudeness undermines any sentiment the film has to offer – like a bizarrely heartwarming karaoke duet with Zoey Deutch that almost brings Efron back to his High School Musical days. Take a look at him now, Disney.

Plaza has a filthy turn as Lenore, who’s trying to get with Dick because she thinks he is a professor and that’s on her slutty bucket list.

Dirty Grandpa

Zac Efron and Robert De Niro in Dirty Grandpa (Source

Along the way, they meet Shadia (Zoey Deutch, Vampire Academy), who attended photography school with Jason. She’s the only one who doesn’t get raunchy dialogue – and should feel the least embarrassed to be in this smut.

I love crude humour. But only when it’s funny. This just felt like it took a shrapnel accuracy approach to comedy — writing filthy jokes and seeing what sticks. Plot twist: Nothing does stick.

It’s a predictable farce that results in an early contender for the year’s worst film. Dan Mazer (producer on Brüno) directs the actors on what looks like their first take. They say dialogue that’s supposed to be funny, but rarely is. The cast tries their very best and the film isn’t their fault.

It’s bad writing and dreadful jokes, which only made me laugh once. At this point, I’m trying to forget Efron and De Niro were ever in something so damn desperate.

The epitome of desperation in the film is a scene with Efron waking up the beach nude after a night of partying, only a stuffed bee covering his nether regions.

A young child then comes over, using vocabulary like “He let me kiss it” and “I stroked it” when his petrified father comes over. It looks like he molested the poor kid – and for Dirty Grandpa, this is their below the rock bottom of desperate comedy.

In certain scenes I was truly debating walking out, which is something I haven’t considered since 2013’s Grown Ups 2. So in a way, the filmmakers won. They nearly shocked me out of the movie. Congratulations?

1 star

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Neighbors (2014)

NeighborsReleased: May 4, 2014. Directed by: Nicholas Stoller. Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron. Runtime: 96 min. 

Nicholas Stoller, a graduate of the so-called Apatow school of comedy, directs Neighbors, a film that is uncharacteristically short for Apatow’s brand of filmmaking. In this way, Stoller makes this film his own. The film follows a couple, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne), who are severely bored, and are experiencing arrested development because of their extremely amusing new-born baby Stella. Soon enough, some spice in their life moves in next door, but it’s keeping them up at night. It’s a frat house, led by a charismatic Zac Efron. When Mac “violates the circle of trust” (as Dave Franco puts it at an inconsistent Robert De Niro party – which is the joke) by calling the cops to file a noise complaint, the war is on – which consists of the family trying to get the frat to get enough strikes to get them out of the neighborhood, among other things.

The film has a quick pace and the falling-out is mildly realistic. Rogen and Efron bond initially – sharing joints (a Seth Rogen comedy essential), impressions of Batman, and even talk about getting walkie talkies – but Efron’s Teddy doesn’t like it when people break promises. He takes it as a form of extreme disrespect and an act of war. It could be perceived as a bit of a childish reason, but the war of comedy that ensues is insanely entertaining. And not to mention very funny. While some of the humour misses, like the frat repeatedly saying a line of dialogue (“Standing around with our dicks in our hands”) seems a bit nonsensical at the time and not that funny, but the accuracy rate of humour hitting is a good 90 per cent. 

For the comedy genre, that’s great – because there are so many comedies that are just not that funny these days. This is memorable and hilarious, and its raunchiness potent. So avoid seeing this one with your parents, boys and girls. Because, like Apatow, this director doesn’t fear to show the penis. The film’s raunchiness is apparent with a running joke that Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s character’s penis is very large. McLovin is surprisingly under-utilized otherwise, and he’s literally just there for that running joke – which does get some big laughs. Though, that joke might come to you as a selling point to get you to see this film, or as an aspect to make you avoid this. A few comments on the visuals: The cinematography looks pure, which is nice for a comedy – and some of the visuals are interesting. The party scenes might be hard on the eyes because of all of the lights, but they’re still very fun. I was a fan of the set design and I was a personal fan of a “Carpe that f**king diem” pillow.

This is a funny movie to watch with a few friends. If you’re Under 25, you’ll really enjoy this – but anyone older, it all depends on your sense of humour. The film is evident that the older crowd still knows how to have fun with the younger crowd, shown through Rogen and Bryne. Rogen didn’t have to prove that with this film though, because we’ve already known it for awhile. Byrne holds her own incredibly well, and even though her character is awkward at times, it’s the point. With this and Get Him to the Greek (and Bridesmaids), she has proved again and again that she could find a lot of success as a comedic actress. She uses improvisation with everyone else well, and so does Zac Efron – whose funny performance is as much of a discovery role as Channing Tatum’s was in 21 Jump Street. Dave Franco is funny in his role. A newcomer named Jerrod Carmichael is funny in his role as Garf, a primary frat member. The only person who feels like a stranger to the chemistry of everyone else is Ike Barinholtz. It’s nice to see the MadTV alum (who does do a fun Mark Wahlberg impression), but it was hard for me to buy into the fact that he’s supposed to be best friends with Rogen’s character. He gets a laugh or two, but his role is only sporadically useful.

Some good characterization is found in the film. Some themes of the fear of the future and trying to make your mark in history is nice. It’s nice to see that this situation is actually mildly beneficial to both parties. When the film threatens to all gooey, it jumps back with raunchiness. It might annoy some, but it helps the film stay true to its conflict-filled plot and raunchy tone. 

Score88/100

Last Vegas (2013)

Last VegasReleased: November 1, 2013. Directed by: Jon Turteltaub. Starring: Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman. Runtime: 105 min.

During “Last Vegas,” I often sarcastically thought – I can’t wait until I get old. I get to have those pill holders with the days of the week on them; have the constant threat of diseases like mild strokes; back pain; erectile dysfunction. That sounds like the life, and I already have one of those things, so I just cannot wait until I experience all of them. Even if any of these older gentlemen have half of the things listed, they’re out to prove they can still party like it’s 1969, when they were actually in their prime.

Billy (Michael Douglas), Paddy (Robert De Niro), Archie (Morgan Freeman) and Sam (Kevin Kline) have been best pals since the early days, and they having a reunion in Vegas – because Billy is getting married to a girl half his age, which just sets up countless jokes, but I don’t remember any references to Hugh Hefner in the actual film.

Billy and Paddy aren’t the best of pals right now, however – and they have some making up to do. You see, these two guys loved the same girl, Sophie, when they were kids – and she ended up marrying Paddy. With that, they have some unresolved issues which I won’t spoil.

Sam is given a hall pass because he is having intimacy problems with the lady back home, and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This is an amusing sub-plot, even if it is so familiar I was having deja vu during one scene. Archie recently had a health spook and now he’s just searching for a little independence. The story’s really about showing how these guys’ relationships have been through a lot but they can still tolerate each other, so that’s a nice thing. There’s another sub-plot where the guys meet a woman named Diana (Mary Steenburgen), a woman with the traditional lounge singer job in Vegas. Her character helps mainly Billy and Paddy grow. It might have been funnier if she turned out to be a hooker, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of PG-13 rated movies have many hookers in them; unless you count Woody Harrelson in “Anger Management.”

As far as PG-13 rated films go, this one shows that they can still be pretty damn funny. There’s some mild language (one F-bomb) and some sexual content, so one can see where it could be edited to get an R-rating. There’s a bikini contest, just take off the bikinis – and bam, young teens would then have to sneak in. It’s a funny movie that is reminiscent of “The Hangover” but I think the character development’s a bit stronger – but the original “Hangover” is a much better film. This is a familiar Vegas outing, but a decent one. The big laughs are probably eight minutes between each other (don’t quote me on that), but the chuckles are strong throughout.

It’s a nice movie that makes each of these characters realize that they can still be happy as older gentlemen, and still live happy lives –  and that’s a good message for people. It seems that the writers feel too often that they have shove in an old person joke every five minutes, some hit – but we get it, they’re old. They call Google “the Google”, This movie makes me realize that Kline is 66 years old, even if he looks pretty good for his age. All these older actors get many laughs out of the audience, and it has fun with a simple premise. The actors are great so they make these generic characters seem much better than they are. The intention of this innocent movie called “Last Vegas” is to give people a good time, and at least it has a good heart. It’s sort-of funny that this bachelor party movie, one that is reminiscent of “The Hangover” is a much, much better film than “The Hangover Part III.”

Score70/100

Tyler Perry Presents: Peeples (2013)

PeeplesPeeples

Release Date: May 10, 2013

Director: Tina Gordon Chism

Stars: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier

Runtime: 95 min

The comedy genre produces a lot of stinkers. Peeples is a heartfelt movie about accepting people for who they are, and there are prominent themes of dishonesty and secrets; but this isn’t a secret: Peeples is comedy’s latest stinker.

It’s not that Peeples isn’t a funny movie, because you’ll probably chuckle more than a few times, but this is so familiar, that it should be renamed Meet the Peeples. It’s just what you’d expect; a bland, extremely predictable comedy. The plot follows Wade (Craig Robinson) who crashes the Peeples annual reunion in the Hamptons to ask for their daughter Grace’s hand in marriage.

The thing is, Grace (Kerry Washington) hasn’t told her family about Wade, even though they’ve been dating for a year. Wade keeps trying to ask the father, Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier), for Grace’s hand in marriage, but there always seems to be some forced situation blocking his way. Lunch is either being called, or Virgil can’t be bothered to talk to Wade, a man who uses songs to help kids with their problems. One of his songs informs kids that they must talk about their feelings, and not urinate on others, a way of seeking attention. (‘Speak it, don’t leak it’ guys.) It’s silly, and it’s not clear if Chism is trying to apply to adults, to make it a theme of the movie. If it’s there for that purpose, and it just isn’t some stupid song, it’s handled amateurishly. I’m sure grown people don’t pee on each other because they can’t communicate well.

The characters are afraid to say what they most desire. This is because the father rules the household with an iron fist. He’s a judge, but he’s also a textbook tyrant. He teaches his family that lying and dishonesty is frowned upon. The whole family is holding secrets, but so is Virgil. He’s the biggest hypocrite of them all, really. Grace Peeples is probably the biggest liar of the kids, and Washington is a likable screen presence, but her character is irritating. She says early on in the movie that she values honesty, but she’s been bending the truth toward Wade throughout their relationship. She never told her family about him. There are about five other big secrets she doesn’t think are worth a mention. Are we, the audience, really supposed to believe that Wade could so easily forgive her for all that? Who could deal with her authoritarian father? It’s not like he’s marrying her father, but… The family is insane, and if she has a hard time being honest, she wouldn’t be able to change so quickly. Some might have to kick this dishonest bitch to the curb, even if she does look mighty fine in a schoolgirl outfit.

The characters are generic, and because of this, it’s hard to care for them. Every occurrence is forced, and very little actually happens. It’s all about Wade trying to reach his goal of marrying Grace. Some of the hijinks enable jokes to produce some chuckles, but you’ll forget them as soon as you leave the theatre. This is a carbon copy of Meet the Parents, just with black actors. At least Robert De Niro is lots of fun and hilarious as the uptight father in Meet the Parents; Grier might seem like a good actor for this role, but his character is unlikable and rarely funny. I don’t think people staring uncomfortably at each other to be funny. The best character is a funny grandfather (Melvin Van Peebles – his last name really suits this role) who wears a cape from his college years. Craig Robinson is thankfully always charismatic, and he makes us laugh a few times – it’s great to see him step into a leading man spotlight, even in a bad film. Washington in a comedy is refreshing, but her straight woman role doesn’t let her have any memorable yuks. Malcolm Barrett (portraying Wade’s brother, Chris) is sometimes funny, and when he isn’t being funny, it’s because the stuff is so ridiculous it can’t force any laughs out of the audience. He should stick to drama because as Chris, he’s a hit-and-miss presence who really might frustrate you.

Some scenes that are supposed to be funny feel too awkward to force any laughs out of any audience. Tyler James Williams is trying very hard as a rapper/kleptomaniac, a character with little substance. The cinematography seems consistently out-of-focus, and I think this is a hard experience to finish. It’s boring, familiar and generic, and your attention might wander to fellow theatre patrons instead of the movie. This means well and it’s trying to be a heartfelt romp, but it feels bereft of sincerity; Chism doesn’t write one quality or genuine character interaction that feels natural.

No one will expect a masterpiece, but apparently writer-director Tina Gordon Chism thinks decent, familiar entertainment is too large of a request. This is a stupid and forgettable farce; every scene is uninspired, not a lot happens, but it might make you chuckle a few times. It’s really a disappointment, because this should at least be a decent time-passer. Chism might give us a poorly-constructed film, but the majority will unfortunately be pointing their fingers at Tyler Perry, the well-known producer who merely lends his name to the flick. Still, he does think movie-goers might actually like to spend 95 minutes of their life watching something they’ve seen eight times before.

Question: Is the title supposed to be some sort-of pun? I mean, it’s spelled pee-ples, and Wade’s main song is about kids urinating on each other…

38/100

Hide and Seek (2005)

Hide and SeekHide and Seek

Release Date: January 28, 2005

Director: John Polson

Stars: Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen

Runtime: 101 min

Tagline: Come out come out whatever you are

Plot: As a widower tries to piece together his life in the wake of his wife’s suicide, his daughter finds solace — at first — in her imaginary friend.

Hide and Seek is too mediocre to star Robert De Niro, but he and Dakota Fanning make it tolerable. One doesn’t really know if it’s a ghost story or just an eerie stalker story, all we know it’s psychological and it tries very hard to be creepy. The flashback dream sequence that De Niro has often is strange, and the party has a cool production like Titanic and even The Shining. This tries hard to please its audience, so much so it has four alternate endings on its DVD. If you don’t like the original ending, you’ll probably like at least one of the four other ones…

The movie is slightly bland and forgettable and sort of just moves along at a slow pace, and the town-folk are rather strange. Elisabeth Shue’s character doesn’t do much for the story, except make the mysterious imaginary friend called “Charlie” angry, making the little Emily angry, in turn. The movie does get saved by a memorable third act, but everything preceding it, is dark, often creepy, but overall boring. The ending is a good surprise, and the movie keeps you guessing.

There are a few okay scares, especially when lights flash on and off. The performances are just adequate, but the talented actors aren’t utilized well. The thing is, the characters are bland and sort-of uninteresting. They’re so lifeless that they couldn’t even care for a cat they might or might not own. The storytelling doesn’t bother to tell us if the cat is a family pet, if it’s a stray, or if it comes with the house. (I’d rather a pool if anything comes with my new house. I’m allergic to cats.) The cinematography is cool and it’s shot in an interesting fashion. The movie isn’t great and overall, it isn’t memorable; but it is eerie enough to (probably) put me on-edge if I ever play hide-n-go-seek again.

52/100

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook

Release Date: November 21, 2012

Director: David O. Russell

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

Runtime: 122 min

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is a former history teacher who has been in a mental institution for the past eight months because he nearly killed the man who was having sex with his wife. Now, Pat is out and he’s trying to reconcile with his ex-wife, Nikki. He is staying at his parents house (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver), and all they want him to do is move on and share their family obsession of the Philadelphia Eagles. Pat then meets a mysterious girl named Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman with many problems of her own. After their meeting, things get very complicated.

The relationship between Pat and Tiffany is pretty nice. They both have many problems. Pat is struggling with consistently taking his medication, he is not fully comprehending that he might never be able to reconcile with his wife, and he is having much difficulty controlling his emotions and anger. He’s sort of like a fairly more controlled Hulk.

Tiffany is a very young widow that has recently lost her job. She lost her job because she slept around with just about everyone in her workplace. This may sound sort of peculiar, but the way she tells the story is actually quite funny. Tiffany may have multiple problems of her own, but she is much more comfortable with her current state of mind than Pat is with his own.

Soon enough, Pat learns that Tiffany has a way of communicating with his ex-wife, Nikki. He cannot do it himself because of the restraining order, but he asks Tiffany if she could deliver a letter to her. But wait, there’s a catch. Tiffany needs help with this dance competition, and if Pat helps her, she’ll deliver that letter. This allows them to bond over time, and grow a solid relationship. Together, these crazies will have to find that silver lining on any old negative or dark day.

Silver Linings Playbook offers a great story that will be talked about for years to come. The plot may seem like yet another traditional romantic comedy, but no, it is much more than that. While it does have some components of the formula to make a romantic comedy, it is far from that. This is more of a dramedy with a few spices of romance, for good taste.

There’s a great canvas of incredible characters. The whole cast brings the multi-layered characters of Matthew Quick’s novel to life. Each actor wonderfully captures the exact emotions they are supposed to be expressing. A notable character is Chris Tucker’s Danny, who further adds some comedy to the feature. Though, the real notable performers are the two primary characters themselves, Bradley Cooper as Pat and Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany. They both express craziness well, they are both very hilarious, and they express emotions of stress, anger and anxiety well. When they are called to have an outburst, they do it very well. The direction by David O. Russell is also very amazing, and he directs these people with ease. To any ordinary director, directing these performers may be difficult, but this guy makes it look easy.

Silver Linings Playbook offers an experience that is difficult not to love. It is hilarious, sexy, beautiful, meaningful, sad, emotional, and sometimes quite dramatic. All of these aspects go very well together. Some thing that helps that is the impeccable writing by David O. Russell, and Matthew Quick who originally wrote the novel. The pacing never gets off track, and it never misses a beat. The viewer may not be able to relate to the exact situation of these characters, but they could fully understand their motivations – and most may have felt similar emotions that these characters express on a daily basis. This makes 2003’s Anger Management look like trash, and it ranks up to the greatness of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Sure, it may not be as dramatic as Cuckoo’s Nest, but it has great performances like that – and it sure is funnier than Anger Management. This is easy to admire because at times, it finds comedy in many intense situations.

100/100

So which famous figures were born on August 17?

A few big stars were born on this day: Robert De Niro (69 — Ha!), and Sean Penn (52).

Some of De Niro’s best known films are HeatCasinoGoodfellas or Taxi Driver (which I haven’t, ashamedly, seen any of them, I own the first three but I just have to find the time), and he’s pretty well known for his comedic roles in Meet the ParentsMeet the Fockers and the not-so-good third entry, Little Fockers. He is both a great drama actor and comedy actor. De Niro has won two Academy Awards for Best Actor in Raging Bull and Best Suppourting Actor for his work in The Godfather Part II. And he has four other nominations to his name. Robert De Niro is one actor that I respect, love to watch work and would love to see a lot more of his films. I haven’t been into old classics and stuff for a long time, so I really would like to watch some of his best flicks.

 Some of Penn’s best known films are Mystic River21 Grams, and Milk. Damn. Another actor’s best known flicks that I haven’t seen any of. I guess I have a lot of time to see these classics, I am only seventeen years old. Penn won the Best Actor Oscars for Mystic River and Milk. And he’s also been nominated for three other Best Actor Oscars. I’ve seen him in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and in the Fincher thriller The Game, which I enjoyed him in both.                            Although I haven’t seen a lot of Penn’s films (similar to De Niro) a lot his flicks are on my watchlist.

(On a side note unrelated to their birthdays) I’m an aspiring movie buff, I say aspiring because I haven’t seen a lot of classics. Crap. I need to work on that. But I am going to watch Jaws (it’ll be like a new experience as I saw it like seven years ago) and Deliverance tonight. So, I’m pretty excited for those thrilling experiences.