Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) has recently lost his wife of 46 years and he’s pretty happy about it. Zisman plans on having the kind of fun his wife refused him for several years; but those hopes are dashed as his estranged daughter drops off his eight-year old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll). Zisman’s daughter has violated her parole and must return to prison so she asks her father to take Billy across the country to North Carolina where his drug-addled dad lives. Zisman tries to figure out another way but realizes he’s stuck with Billy. The pair sets out on a journey taking the back roads of America, making enormous amounts of trouble everywhere they stop along the way.
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” is a mash up of the very familiar “Jackass” style of pranks and a few stunts plus a loosely constructed story to tie it all together. Fans of the show and three movies will find it very comfortable while others who are new to the product may run screaming from the theatre. Everyone who enjoys watching average people put into unusual circumstances and watching their reactions should find the film a lot of fun.
Johnny Knoxville is under a great deal of latex and makeup to become a character 40 or so years older than he actually is. Knoxville doesn’t exactly inhabit the character of Zisman as he doesn’t move much like an 86-year old man. His stride is too long and smooth, his voice too strong and his posture is too straight. Given all that, it’s a wonder no one could tell he was a young man pretending to be an old man. I suppose the quality of the makeup hid that fact.
Knoxville and crew are in rare form with little Jackson Nicoll fitting right in with his much older co-star. The child, who is sent to talk to adults on the street and ask men to be his new dad and women if they are strippers, is able to elicit numerous laughs without looking like he’s trying. I’m sure he was wearing an ear piece so Knoxville or others could feed him lines to say to the unsuspecting victims on the street. Still, his delivery is spot-on and his sweet, round face makes the foul things he says that much more affecting. Actually, the movie tends to bog down when Knoxville is alone on screen. Nicoll seems to be better at keeping the action moving than his much more experienced co-star.
Most of the humor in “Bad Grandpa” is derived from the reactions of people to Knoxville’s and Nicoll’s antics. A funeral that goes horribly wrong near the start of the movie is a prime example. The faces of the crowd as one embarrassing thing after another occurs draw more laughs than the events themselves, and they’re very funny. From shoplifting in a convenience store to disrupting a bingo game, the reaction shots of people as the actors pratfall, curse, belch, pass gas or whatever, is priceless. People are a combination of shocked, amused, disgusted and embarrassed. As the film goes on, the pranks start to feel a bit repetitive, until a scene at a diner where Knoxville leaves a mess on the wall. That scene peaks your interest once again, but soon, it begins to flag. The sameness of the pranks gets a bit numbing after a while. It isn’t until Knoxville delivers the boy to his father that the movie regains some momentum and pushes through to a scene at a children’s beauty pageant where the gang turns a silly talent show into an exotic dancing tutorial. Again, the reactions of the shocked audience are funny, but the real entertainment is little Nicoll. He can really shake that groove thang and you’ll feel a little dirty watching.
The most surprising aspect of the film is how the story actually works despite it being merely a way to connect the pranks. Knoxville and Nicoll have a great chemistry and the characters’ relationship becomes closer over time. The moment when Zisman turns Billy over to his worthless dad is actually touching. The group of bikers in the bar where the transfer takes place adds to the sentimentality of the scene as they raise money to support abused children. I’m sure that location was chosen because the bikers would be there and the crew knew they would become involved as the story unfolded. It was an excellent choice as the scenes with the bikers have a great deal of emotional reality.
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” is rated R for for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use. Irving Zisman is a man looking for a good time and isn’t shy about asking for it. There are numerous crude references to female anatomy. There are a couple of instances of nudity. Rubber prosthetics are used to simulate the male sex organs with Zisman shown getting his penis caught in a drink vending machine and trying to pull it out, and we also get a look at his simulated testicles which dangle out of his underwear by about a foot. We also see mostly nude male strippers briefly in one scene. There is a particularly graphic prank where simulated feces are splattered against a wall in a diner. There are numerous farts heard. The drug use is a scene of Billy’s father using a water bong. Foul language is common throughout.
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” won’t win any awards or end a war. It is a funny way to kill 90 minutes despite slowing down some in the middle with repetitive pranks. Knoxville and crew are still able to make the discomfort of others very funny and, based on the closing credits scenes where people are informed they are in a movie; most folks don’t seem to mind.
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” gets four guitars out of five.
Sci-fi, a turkey cartoon and a geriatric bachelor party are what’s coming up in theatres this week. Vote for the next movie I see and review.
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Free Birds—In this irreverent, hilarious, adventurous buddy comedy for audiences of all ages, two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history - and get turkey off the holiday menu for good.
Last Vegas—Aging pals Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam have been best friends since childhood. When Billy finally proposes to his much-younger girlfriend, all four friends go to Las Vegas to celebrate the end of Billy's longtime bachelorhood and relive their glory days.
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film of his choice currently playing in theatres or On Demand.
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
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