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Undercover Grandpa (2017)


Oh no. This was a mistake.

In my defence, it promised to be a comic action adventure with James Caan as an undercover agent showing the next generation but one how it’s done. It promised Louis Gossett Junior, Paul Sorvino and other men of dignity and talent doing character-acty violence. It was just there, in front of me, on the Netflix menu. And…no. Oh no. A terrible, terrible mistake.

Undercover Grandpa stars teenagers being earnest at one another. Dylan Everett plays Jake Bouchard, a youth who struggles for humility, but lands on pugnacious and slappable in long-shot and wearisome in close-up. He nearly asks out Greta Onieogou (Angie!), lands the date through…well, she has to take over…and gets stuck chaperoning his supposedly mad Grandpa whilst Angie is busy being kidnapped. This is preceded by James Caan’s arrival as said Grandpa, ex agent, dotty and still checking walls for microphones…only…

Look. I watched Undercover Grandpa with other old folk. No kids were present. No-one especially stupid was present. So, let’s suppose you’re never going to watch this rubbish…

Caan is so obviously not Alzheimered up to the armpits that the entire plot reveals itself before the inciting incident. It could have been more interesting if the boy was kidnapped and the girl helped out, but, no, the film elects to pap its way through Grandpa revealing his hand, ushering the vacuous and emotive Jake into various parts of the underworld to hunt bullets, unexpectedly (not!) beat up pantomimic, dumbassed bad guys, get shafted by his old boss (only not!), reunite his old team of spy-buds who find it all a bit much (nnnnnnnnnnnot!) and ultimately have a mighty – completely safe – shoot-out with the bad guys in an abandoned cliché factory somewhere by a river.

Oh, it’s just horrible. The acting is superficial. The ker-ching coming off the ancient acting talent is deafening (three men, ten wives – sayin’). The gender imbalance is mildly, then wildly irritating: Angie’s contribution to the final scenes feels like an apology for every other moment she hides, runs, begs for help, or shrieks for the hero-boy. 2017, guys. And the whole thing is like watching a sanitised rip-off of a rip-off of a rip-off of a camcordered home-movie someone made after hearing a rumour about Taken.

Caan does what he can with the script whilst having next to no chemistry with the kids-TV grandchild. Sorvino sits and looks knackered whilst threatening no-one: and that’s what he exists to do!!! Gossett Junior is kind of fun. But all are eclipsed by Kenneth Walsh as Harry, the sort-of mad scientist. He certainly has the hair, the sci-fi static and the face-pulling for it. A country mile less sharp than Christopher Lloyd, but he’ll do in this tragic affair. He also triggers the one chuff of humour the thing extracted from old Jack’s rebellious lungs: a shot of him in an ancient diving suit, zimmering his way across the riverbed.

The final insult – SPOILER – is in killing the Grandpa. It isn’t believable for a second. Everett is asked to look sad then – when the inevitable scene is fumbled – look accepting, admiring and nothing like as pissed off as the audience…

Don’t waste your time. Go polish your dentures instead.


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