12,000 years. TWELVE THOUSAND. Give or take 500 years either way. That’s somewhere in the region of 4.4 million days. More than 105 million hours. 6.3 billion minutes – give or take 11 million minutes.
That’s how long it’s been since the Neolithic Revolution transformed human existence, since we shifted from a largely nomadic hunter/gatherer lifestyle to a sedentary, agricultural one of settlement allowing the establishment of villages, towns, cities. Crop cultivation enabled population concentration and growth. The specialisation and division of labour. The growth of trading economies. The seeds of centralised administrative, political structures. The development of cursive script – writing, to you and me, gentle reader. The invention of the wheel. Mathematics. Astronomy. Medicine. Art and architecture. The rise and fall of empires. The Mesopotamians, the Hittites, the Babylonians. The Axial Age saw the development of complex religions and philosophies, transforming human culture and experience. The emergence of Confucianism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism. Alexander conquered the world, ushering in the Hellenistic period and an explosion in art, literature and science. Plato. Pythagoras. Archimedes. Eureka!
Greece gives way to Rome, Byzantium falls, the Golden Age of Islam sees advances in algebra, trigonometry, calculus. Famine, wars and the Black Death ravage and cleanse Europe. The Renaissance sees massive leaps in technology and the increasing secularisation of politics, the rise of capitalism, the Scientific Revolution, the Age of Discovery. The Industrial Revolution leads to mechanisation and mass production. The Age of Enlightenment sees fledgling democracies birthed in the chaos of the French and American Revolutions. Railways and steamships shrink the world. We split the atom, we map the human genome, we walk on the Moon. WE WALK ON THE MOON! The telegraph gives way to the radio, the radio, to the internet. Babbage’s Difference Engine supplanted by the computer. The phone in your pocket is more powerful than the computers that took men to the Moon.
Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for 135 million years. Imagine a world where Saurian empires rose and fell. Imagine a T-rex Michelangelo on his scaly back, half-blind, brush in tiny hands, toiling to breathe life into the Sistine Chapel ceiling of a savage Laramidian Pope. Imagine sharing the morning commute with a triceratops, having a velociraptor for a boss. Imagine the Kardashians as peanut-brained diplodocuses. That last one’s not much of a stretch, admittedly. In 135 million years, these things never happened. The dinosaurs just couldn’t get it together. Yet, in just 12,000 years we have gone from cavemen to spacemen. 12,000 years of human civilisation. It’s long enough. It’s time we stepped aside, turned the stage over, gave another species their moment in the Sun.
Now I’m not saying, gentle reader, that Dirty Grandpa marks the end of human civilisation. Of course I’m not, only a lunatic would argue that. I’m not even saying that it is the worst film ever made. How could I? The appreciation of any art form is a purely subjective, personal experience. And I haven’t seen At Long Last Love or any Adam Sandler films since 2001’s Little Nicky (which was pretty shit) so I cannot definitively say Dirty Grandpa is the worst film ever made. But it’s certainly the worst film I’ve seen with other people in the room and represents a fixed moment in time that one can point to, a sure and certain sign that the high watermark of human evolution and culture is somewhere behind us. A sign that we have risen as high as we can rise, striven as far as we can strive and now we are done; all that’s left to us is ashes and decay, the long slide into oblivion. It is a sign that it is time for us all to drink the special Kool-Aid, link arms and sing Kumbaya as sweet, merciful darkness envelopes us and the Reaper’s kiss steals the life from our lips.
But how bad does a film have to be before you start advocating the mass euthanasia of the human race? Aggressively misogynistic, homophobic and racist, Dirty Grandpa is a comedy that has everything except wit, charm, intelligence, anything approaching a relatable character or, most crucially, laughs, managing the no mean feat of being both offensive and boring – much like a toddler lifting her skirt at a party in an attempt to shock you. Then accidentally shitting herself and bursting into tears. The plot sees Efron’s emasculated lawyer Jason cajoled by his titular, estranged and recently widowed grandfather (two-time – TWO-TIME – Academy Award winner De Niro) into driving the old geezer to Florida in his turbo-shrew fiance’s pink Mini for plot device reasons I consider about as important as the filmmakers obviously did. Drunk, drug-addled and off the leash for the first time in 50 years, Grandpa wants to hit Daytona Beach for Spring Break (“Spring Break forever, bitches”) and bang some crazy college chicks, THE DAY AFTER THE FUNERAL OF HIS WIFE OF 50 YEARS, and as luck would have it, they bumble into a couple of she-tards and their gay best friend.
She-tard Number One (Deutch) is the cool, hippie chick who was in Jason’s photography class at high school (before he became a corporate fluffer) and still holds a candle for him (though given that he’s left college and working as a lawyer, she must have been kept back a few years) while She-tard Number Two (Plaza) is a potty-mouthed gerontophile who instantly gets a wide-on for De Niro. Gay best friend (Bowyer-Chapman) is also black, enabling De Niro to make homophobic and racist jokes. THAT IS HIS SOLE FUNCTION IN THE FILM. Well, that and to allow De Niro the chance to beat up some other black people later in the film. Don’t ask. Things happen, some other things happen, Efron realises he’s wasting his life and that redemptive love lies with She-tard Number One, Plaza keeps talking about her VAG-GINE-AHHH in that little-girl-stoned monotone she always speaks in, De Niro spews right-wing, woman-hating, homophobic bile for 100 minutes, there’s a running joke that Efron looks like a lesbian and another where De Niro repeatedly jams his thumb up his GRANDSON’s arse which perhaps is a better reason why Efron hasn’t seen Grandpa since he was a kid than the film’s explanation of De Niro being a special forces operative overseas. Efron hasn’t seen Grandpa coz Grandpa’s been in the Big House for molesting his grandson. And I finally realised why cinema chains make you pour your beer into a plastic cup and discard your glass bottle before entering the auditorium when, approximately 30 minutes into the film, I start fantasising about slitting my wrists and running around the theatre spraying the audience with my blood and screaming in their faces before mercifully bleeding out. There’s also some painfully unfunny stoner cops who seem to have wandered in from Reno 911! and a shrill drug dealer who Spring Breakers' Alien would’ve definitely popped a cap in his bitch ass.
Shummed out by long-time Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator Mazer, who also directed the laugh-free I Give It A Year, an anti-romantic comedy that was less fun than a urethral swab but looks like Blazing Saddles next to this effluence, Dirty Grandpa could’ve been an act of cinematic terrorism, akin to the August Underground movies or Melancholie der Engel, determined to make you wallow in the depraved insanity of its filmmakers. In the hands of Harmony Korine or John Waters it could have been funny and profane, a genuinely subversive mainstream satire in the guise of Frat Pack douchebaggery. Neither of these things happened.
Instead Dirty Grandpa is a soul-destroying avalanche of 100-odd minutes of adolescent wank jokes splaffed in the faces of the audience for whom it has nothing but bitter contempt. We have Efron walking in on De Niro wanking like a furious chimp. It’s funny COZ HE’S A TWO-TIME ACADEMY AWARD WINNER, LADIES AND GERMS! And he’s wanking! We have De Niro spraying sun cream over Plaza’s breasts as she exhorts him to “tear me open like a social security cheque!” among other crudities. It’s funny COZ IT LOOKS LIKE JIZZ! There’s jokes about Efron being raped in prison. COZ PRISON RAPE IS FUNNY! When Efron smokes crack and wakes up naked on a beach with only a cuddly toy bee covering his crotch, it’s inevitable that a passing toddler will grab the toy and the child’s father will think Efron’s a paedophile forcing a toddler to wank him off. CHILD MOLESTATION IS FUNNY! HA! Or how about facetiming your fiancé, her family and the rabbi that’s going to marry you while you have a swastika made of penises scrawled on your forehead? NAZI COCK HOLOCAUST IS FUNNY! HA! HA! HA, HA, HA!
Morally and intellectually vacuous, depressing, unfunny and just, well, bad, Dirty Grandpa makes you pray that Isis wins.