When paired correctly Zac Efron can be an excellent comic actor. When paired correctly Robert De Niro can be a great dramatic actor and a great comic actor. When paired together, it seems some kind of weird chemical reaction happens that makes these two stars just a little bit irritating and a whole lot of disturbing.
The premise is this. Jason Kelly [Zac Efron] is one week away from marrying his boss’s uber-controlling daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at the law firm he works at. However, when the straight-laced Jason is tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandfather, Dick [Robert De Niro], to Daytona for spring break, his pending nuptials are suddenly in jeopardy. This is a wacky road trip/buddy movie that winds up feeling awkward simply due to the mismatched cast.
Road trip comedies, provided they are hilarious and have the right casting, don’t have to be complex or intelligent. They can be really stupid and really thin, but still be enjoyable. Consider movies like “The Sure Thing,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” None of the plots are particularly complex, but they work because of the actors and because of the dialog.
What didn’t make them work was endless dick jokes.
It was like the writers went out of their way to make every single character as repellant as possible. Every last one of them has some deep seated, controversial issues, whether they’re selling drugs to kids or trying to molest aging pensioners.
Efron clearly made an effort to give his character heart and sympathy. It’s one of his first times playing the straight man in a buddy comedy and I felt like he gave it his all. Surprisingly, where it fell apart was De Niro. De Niro is an excellent actor, as long as he’s playing ‘straight’. The responsible mobsters, the overbearing father, the strict mentor, these are all roles he shines in. The ‘kooky grandpa’ role is not one of them. There’s just something so uncomfortable about watching De Niro trying to get laid.
I’m not a fan of movies that depend on being crude to be funny, because crude isn’t always funny. Sometimes it’s just crude. See Andrew Dice Clay as an example. I have to say, if this is writer John Phillips best effort, I have little hope for the upcoming Bad Santa 2.
In a movie like this, it’s important to like the characters. While Efron works to be likeable, De Niro is that creepy old dude in the bar, standing in the corner, watching girls young enough to be his granddaughter dance, while he drools slightly. He’s not funny. He’s just gross. Honestly, if I met this character in real life, I probably would have maced him while blowing my rape whistle.
This literally might be the unfunniest film of the year. A script devoid of humor, and leads that come across as unlikable, make this movie one that’s sure to earn a Golden Raspberry nomination. This is not even remotely worth the watch. In fact, it’s one I wish I could unwatch.
We Gave it: 1 Star: Official Movie Trailer and Movie Poster Below