I was never a fan of the show Jackass, nor have I seen any of the movies. That type of “watch me induce pain on myself and my friends” humour just isn’t something I find funny for the most part – especially for upwards of 90 minutes. The reason I thought it best to point this out early on in the review is so that everyone reading knows that Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is a hilarious Oscar-nominated comedy that isn’t just for Jackass fans. Wait, did I just write Oscar-nominated?
While Jackass was all about doing ridiculous stunts that caused bodily harm, Bad Grandpa is more about pranking people (albeit, rather crudely at times) via hidden cameras, while on a road trip across the United States. It stars Johnny Knoxville as Irving Zisman, an 86 year-old man whose wife has just passed away. He’s now free from his marital prison and able to embark on a journey to bed as many ladies as he possibly can. Of course, the ladies that he hits on are actual people who aren’t aware this is even a movie, so you can just imagine how they react to this old man’s pick-up lines.
To make matters worse for poor ol’ Irving, his crack-addict “daughter” is going to prison again for being a drug dealer, and is forced to leave her eight year-old son Billy (Jackson Nicoll) with his Grandpa for safe keeping. Knowing that Billy will be the ultimate “cock blocker,” Irving quickly gets into contact with the boy’s deadbeat “dad” Chuck (Greg Harris) and makes a deal that if Irving drives Billy cross-country to where Chuck lives, he’ll gladly take in his son and the monthly child support that comes with him.
As you can see there’s a little bit of a story to this movie that plays out between the skits. While it’s nothing more than filler to help weave together all the pranks that take place over the course of the road trip, there’s still a fairly sweet and heartfelt bond that grows between Irving and Billy that can’t be ignored – even if it does stem from underage drinking and petty theft.
I watched the extended edition, and would recommend those who pick this up to do the same since it’s an additional 10 minutes of gags tacked on to an already funny 90-minutes that happily doesn’t hit the point of wearing out its welcome (though I’m sure that’ll vary from viewer to viewer.)
The pranks range from fairly tame and predictable to completely out of left-field hilarity. There are lots of laughs to be had here, and it’s mainly because Knoxville and Nicoll are so believable in their roles. And yes, as mentioned earlier, Bad Grandpa is actually up for an Academy Award in Makeup and Hairstyling — but it’s a little less shocking once you see the work of Steve Prouty in action. Knoxville is unrecognizable right from the start, and the character of Irving completely takes over the screen in wondrous fashion.
It’s actually pretty amazing some of the things Knoxville is able to do while in the makeup, and to walk up to countless people in a full facial prosthetic and never have them question that you aren’t an 86 year-old guy is quite astounding.
Of course, as impressive and funny as Knoxville is as Irving, this is a movie that wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without the right partner in crime. Nicoll is adorable and a joy to watch on screen. Sure, no kid wants to be called adorable, but he is. He’s the perfect fit for a movie like this, as he’s got such an innocent look to him, and yet he’s fearless in his comedic delivery (some of which is being fed to him by Knoxville and others through an earpiece) and actions. He and Knoxville have fantastic chemistry, which brings an unexpected level of endearment to the potty-mouthed duo.
It’s unfortunate that these types of movies are best left as a one-off, because that means we won’t get to see the continued adventures of Irving and Billy. It’s probably for the best though, as much like Borat, it’s the element of surprise on unsuspecting patrons that make these comedies funny, so another outing just wouldn’t be the same. Ah well, we’ll always have the beauty pageant.
The Blu-ray transfer of the film looks great overall. Even the hidden cameras look nice for the most part, never coming off as overly distracting; though it’s obvious when you’re viewing a scene through one. On the audio front, they did a great job with the sound mixes, as the dialogue and reactions are always nice and clear, and the music and sound effects all come through beautifully.
The best special feature is the behind-the-scenes piece, which is definitely worth checking out once the movie is finished. And while there are a solid amount of deleted scenes and alternate takes as well, it may be best to watch these after a little time has passed. While the movie never feels long, if you delve into these extras right after the movie, they do tend to drag out a little bit, even at their short length.
Behind the Scenes – This feature is broken into eight featurettes that runs at just over half an hour in total. Here the cast and crew show how they set up certain pranks, and how they got reactions from those involved.
Alternate Marks – There are certain scenes within the film where you may say, “Hey, that plate of food doesn’t match the previous plate of food!” or things along those lines. Certain scenes are clearly chopped together from various reactions. It doesn’t happen too often, and when it does it isn’t overly noticeable; however, it’s here where you get to see some of the reactions from those who may not have made the final cut of the film.
Deleted Scenes – There are three short scenes found here that were cut in the final version of the film.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa will definitely bring in fans of Knoxville’s previous Jackass works. That said, anyone who chuckles at the thought of a prosthetic penis getting lodged in a coke machine definitely shouldn’t miss this Oscar nominated comedy.
Paramount Pictures and MTV Films present Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. Directed by: Jeff Tremaine. Written by: Johnny Knoxville, Spike Jones, Jeff Tremaine. Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll. Running time: Regular Edition 92 minutes/ Extended Cut 102 minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: January 28, 2014.
Tags: Jackass, Johnny Knoxville