The evolution, or rather de-evolution of Robert De Niro’s acting career has been the subject of countless internet think pieces. After working with Martin Scorsese on some of the greatest dramas ever made, De Niro has chosen to devote the latter half of his career to one comedy after another. But despite his film choices, the actor’s skills have never been in question, and his The War with Grandpa co-star Rob Riggles recently told explained that De Niro’s comic stylings do not get enough credit.
“The good thing is that they’re all professionals. De Niro doesn’t get enough credit for his comedy chops. He knows what’s funny and he knows why it’s funny, so he knows how to play that. He’s not afraid to look foolish. Comedy, you gotta be willing to look foolish. If you’re not willing to look foolish, that’s a hard sell. That’s why they say comedy’s hard… They know comedy, they know why things are funny.”
While detractors like to point to De Niro’s less critically-acclaimed comedies like Dirty Grandpa and Last Vegas as evidence that he does these “lesser” films only for the paycheck, De Niro’s comedy filmography includes some memorable classics, including Meet the Parents, Analyze That, and The King of Comedy. In the past, De Niro has weighed in on his penchant for doing comedy after a career as a dramatic actor.
“Some people say that drama is easy, and comedy is hard. Not true. I’ve been making comedies the last couple of years, and it’s nice. When you make a drama, you spend all day beating a guy to death with a hammer, or what have you. Or you have to take a bite out of somebody’s face. On the other hand, with a comedy, you yell at Billy Crystal for an hour, and you go home.”
While certain cinephiles continue to insist that the actor is ruining his own legacy with movies like Dirty Grandpa, Robert De Niro appears completely comfortable letting audiences see his funny side, even if it necessitates, like Rob Riggle mentioned, being occasionally made to look foolish in front of the camera. Like the time De Niro showed up for an SNL skit about Blizzard Man in full drag and makeup.
Such roles have never stopped filmmakers from seeking Robert De Niro out for his legendary dramatic chops. Last year, he wowed the world with an excellent performance in The Irishman. Soon, De Niro will be re-teaming up with Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon opposite Leonardo Dicaprio. In the meantime, the actor seems content appearing in such safe comedic fare as War with Grandpa, and The Comeback Trailer.
Based on the book by Robert Kimmel Smith, The War With Grandpa is directed by Tim Hill and features a cast of Oakes Fegley, Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Uma Thurman, Cheech Marin, Jane Seymour, Rob Riggle, Laura Marano, Poppy Gagnon, Colin Ford and more.Cinemablend was the first to cover this story.