Robert De Niro's surprise hit, Dirty Grandpa, is now streaming on Netflix.
One of the most fascinating things about Robert De Niro is how his career has transformed over time. He made a name for himself by playing Hollywood tough guys, and we got a very memorable reminder of that when he appeared in the film Joker. However, the later career of De Niro has been dominated by comedy, and if this actor makes you laugh, then it’s time to stop what you’re doing and stream his underrated comedy Dirty Grandpa on Netflix.
Now, if the name of that film almost rings a bell, rest assured: you’re not crazy. Many people confuse this movie with the Jackass film Bad Grandpa. But while Bad Grandpa focused on Johnny Knoxville pranking unsuspecting people with hidden camera stunts, the Robert De Niro film Dirty Grandpa is a more traditional (albeit still hilariously insane) movie.
And the premise of Dirty Grandpa is quite simple: Robert De Niro plays an army veteran who is being driven to Boca Raton by his son ahead of that son marrying an overbearing fiancée. Most films with such a premise would focus on the father and son overcoming the distance between them and becoming closer over time. However, while this movie provides occasional scenes of bonding and relationship-building between these two very different characters, most of the antics revolve around De Niro’s character putting the “dirty” back in the description “dirty grandpa.”
One interesting thing about this particular Robert De Niro film is that it took a surprisingly long time for it to get made. Back in 2011, the script for the film was featured on The Black List, which features prominent screenplays that have not yet been produced. Filming on this movie wouldn’t begin until 2015, and before De Niro secured the titular role, producers considered some very different actors, including The Big Lebowski star Jeff Bridges and Ant-Man star Michael Douglas.
In order to generate buzz for the movie, producers ended up using some very creative marketing tactics. Our favorite was the original poster for the movie that served as a parody of the classic Dustin Hoffman film The Graduate. Whereas The Graduate poster featured a young Hoffman transfixed by Ann Bancroft’s leg as she begins pulling up her garter, the Dirty Grandpa poster featured Zac Efron staring in apparent horror at Robert De Niro’s leg as he similarly tugs his garter up.
Speaking of Efron, Dirty Grandpa boasts a stacked cast of impressive Hollywood heavyweights. In addition to the father and son team of Robert De Niro and Zac Efron, the movie includes Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover who, as De Niro’s Army friend, now lives in a nursing home (somewhat ironic for an actor whose most famous catchphrase was “I’m getting too old for this s***). This film also stars America’s girl next door Aubrey Plaza, and she hilariously plays a very unconventional love interest for De Niro’s character.
In terms of box office, Dirty Grandpa was an unmitigated hit. Against a budget of $25 million, this Robert De Niro film earned an impressive worldwide box office of $105.2 million. Unfortunately, the critical reception to the movie wasn’t nearly as impressive.
On Rotten Tomatoes, this comedy has a 10 percent critical score and a 44 percent audience score. Perhaps more damningly, the movie ended up being nominated for five different Golden Raspberry Awards (think of these like the Oscars but for terrible films), and while it didn’t win any of them, Robert De Niro was nominated for Worst Actor, Aubrey Plaza was nominated for Worst Supporting Actor, and the whole movie was nominated for Worst Picture. Fortunately, the film has attained a cult status in recent years as more audiences realize how funny it actually is, and it has found a bigger and more receptive audience on streaming than it ever had before.
The good news is that you don’t have to take the critic’s word for it or even have to take our word for it. Now that this movie is streaming on Netflix, you can check it out yourself and discover just how funny Robert De Niro can be when he’s allowed to let loose. And in a world full of blockbuster failures like Quantumania, don’t you owe it to yourself to watch a dirty little comedy filled with awesome character actors?