Jason Kelly (played by Zac Efron), left, finds himself in the middle of the spring break action at Daytona Beach, Fla., after he gives his gradfather, Dick Kelly (Robert De Niro) a ride in 'Dirty Grandpa.'

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Jason Kelly (played by Zac Efron), left, finds himself in the middle of the spring break action at Daytona Beach, Fla., after he gives his gradfather, Dick Kelly (Robert De Niro) a ride in 'Dirty Grandpa.'

De Niro has fun as ‘Dirty Grandpa’

By Shirrel Rhoades
Movie Reviewer

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A popular prefix, we’ve seen “dirty” used in movies ranging from “Dirty Harry” to “The Dirty Dozen” and from “Dirty Dancing” to “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Now we’ve got “Dirty Grandpa.”

This title is a tad misleading, other than that grandpa curses a lot. It’s a somewhat predictable road, buddy, generational comedy starring rubber-faced Robert De Niro as grandpa and pretty-boy Zac Efron as his grandson, Jason.

“Jason’s pretty much got life figured out,” Efron said. “He’s a great lawyer. ... He’s moving up very quickly in his law firm. ... He has a great fiancee. ... Things are looking good for him. ... He thinks he’s got all the boxes checked.”

Then, Jason’s grandmother passes away and he goes to the funeral. There he meets his estranged grandfather, Dick Kelly. His grandfather inveigles Jason to drive him to Florida.

They wind up in Daytona Beach during spring break. There are girls aplenty.

“Grandma’s funeral was yesterday,” Jason says in protest.

“She told me on her deathbed, ‘You get back out there again,’” Dick says insistently.

So the fun begins. Never mind that Jason’s wedding is a couple of days away. He meets this girl named Shadia. ...

Directed by Dan Mazer (a producer on “Borat,” “Bruno” and “The Dictator”), you can expect “Dirty Grandpa” to be outrageous.

The screenplay for this film was featured on the 2011 Blacklist, a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts. John M. Phillips said he wrote it with De Niro in mind.

“I just think he has that perfect blend of comedic timing and imperiousness the character needed,” said the writer.

Said producer Bill Block: “Him doing comedy and playing against that mythological De Niro intensity-seriousness-intimidation that just emanates from him. When he goes against that grain, it’s fantastic.”

However, some fans disagree. One texted me: “Robert De Niro, a fairly good actor, just released another miserable comedy movie, so many, and I’m thinking his legacy will be for all the so many horrible comedy movies.”

That poses the question: Should De Niro rest on his laurels (“Raging Bull,” “Taxi Driver,” “Goodfellas,” “Godfather, Part II”), or simply have fun and cash a few paychecks in the twilight of his acting career. After all, he’s in his 70s.

The actor obviously has opted for the latter course by starring as the titular “Dirty Grandpa.”

Perhaps he should be cautious. Comedies can be fun to do. But sometimes they’re a dirty bomb.

Shirrel Rhoades is the movie reviewer for Cooke Communications North Carolina. He can be reached at srhoades@aol.com.