Release: Friday, October 25, 2013
In this episode, Johnny Knoxville is back as Irving Zisman, the vulgar old man with a big fake. . . well, you know where this is going.
Only this time around, instead of interacting with one of the worst-looking grannies ever (Spike Jonze never ceased to amaze me in those skits in the show) Zisman has been saddled up with his grandkid, whose mother just got sent to prison on drug charges. Now Irving finds himself with no other option but to drop young, impressionable Billy (a surprisingly entertaining Jackson Nicoll) off at his pop’s place, all the way across the country in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Along the way Irving will get his genitals caught in a vending machine, hit on black male strippers, kill a penguin and crash a funeral, a wedding and a beauty pageant. 90 percent of what I just listed can be seen in the trailers, but should you assume that there will be more, perhaps better skits throughout the movie, indeed you won’t be letdown. (Oh yes, and for those who are local, how’d you like that shot of the Henley Street underpass heading into downtown Knoxvegas??)
I got giddy over a two-second clip of my home town because it was far more than what was expected. And speaking of, this movie was actually quite good. Not only are the stunts suitably hilarious with this tandem of old-gramps with a cute, “innocent” little kid working together, but their hidden camera road trip is outfitted with a somewhat heartfelt story as well.
Where plot and prank combine in this outrageous film, this is where Bad Grandpa manages to rise above something more than the montages of ball-busting, stomach-wrenching skits that somehow called for three full-length motion pictures. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for what these guys are doing. . .sort of. I just have always been amazed they managed to put together three such films, on top of the show they had been doing for some time.) Really, it’s pretty impressive to see Knoxville’s 42-year-old body (in an 86-year-old man costume of course) jettisoning through a store window on a coin-operated kiddie ride.
At first Irving can’t stand the thought of having Billy clinging to his side now. After his wife has passed away, Irving’s finding himself a free man for the first time in over forty years. Not even the strongest of Viagra formula is going to be of assistance to him, now that he’s got a grandkid by his side. There’ll be no chatting up the honeys with Billy around. . . or will there be? As the story and journey unfold, Irving and the kid begin to bond over a series of ridiculous situations and you can’t help but find yourself enjoying their camaraderie. The fact that you’ll be feeling something else other than the pee in your pants might surprise you, too.
The other element that Bad Grandpa benefits generously from is the heavy usage of reaction shots. Unlike the other Jackass films, where all of the comedy was confined within the group, this expedition relies heavily on how innocent bystanders take to Zisman’s “parenting” skills. True, there’s always been a few skits here and there where Knoxville will harass some random people for a minute or two, but here’s a movie that completely runs away with that concept. And it works brilliantly. I’d even argue that this film is far funnier because of the way certain people respond to what goes on. Some are so good you want to believe they were directed to act a certain way. But the end credits sequence will reveal that in fact, no one is in on the joke other than Knoxville, Nicoll and the camera crew.
Taken altogether, with clever camera placements, a good performance from the very young Nicoll, and a premise written by fellow jackasses Preston Lacy and Jeff Tremaine that actually enhances the selected stunts, Bad Grandpa is one of the better conceits the crew has concocted. Consider it the ultimate “big” prank, similar to how their other films always concluded in some elaborate scheme — only this time with a lot more loose skin.
Recommendation: This section should be pretty self-explanatory this time! You’ll either be there laughing your fool head off or you’ll be at home, skipping over channels that are showing the previews for this thing. Very little I can say or do to convince the latter kind, which is completely understandable. I’m just relieved this movie actually worked.
Running Time: 92 mins.
Quoted: “You are sorry, you’re sorry as hell, Mister!”
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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com
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I remain a little reluctant, but another positive review by someone whose opinion I generally trust. Maybe I need to set my biases aside and give it a shot. I don’t know.
Thanks James! It’s not a bad one, not as bad as you might be fearing. Or maybe it will be, I can’t presume to speak for your tastes and preferences but if you don’t find yourself laughing awful hard at their regular schtick this movie probably won’t do much for you, either. 🙂
Man, I’ve seen so many decent reviews of this now. I had no desire to see it whatsoever but now I’m intrigued!
You know, as a pretty consistent follower of what these crazy people have been doing for some time, I went into this movie with lowered expectations because I just couldn’t see Knoxville being able to sustain an entire film by himself, much less as a nasty old man!! lol but it works, it really does. Half of the hysteria comes from bystander reactions, so it’s pretty worth it on that merit alone.
I keep hearing decent things about this one. Maybe I will give it a shot sometime.
You may approach with caution; it’s a fairly tasteless affair but there’s some fun to be had for sure. I’m a big fan of the Jackass guys, so I think that’s extremely important to bear in mind going in to this. 🙂
I used to love Jackass when I was younger, but I really haven’t checked it out in a while. If I check this, I will definitely bear that in mind!
haha that’s cool then, you’ll be well-prepared!! It’s actually a more ‘wholesome’ movie involving these kinds of people, if that makes any sense at all. . .
I enjoyed it. Not going to win any awards, but it was silly fun.
Very much so, much more than I thought the limited-premise seemed to offer. I even really like Johnny Knoxville but was doubtful how he was going to keep this entertaining, but boy did he!!!
Good review. The real star of this movie is Knoxville who, at the top of his head, comes up with some of the funniest stuff as if its all natural, and not rehearsed one bit. The kid’s great too, and they make a great on-screen duo.
agreed. Knoxville was a lot of fun to watch, and the kid really surprised me as well. I loved how the “story” (even if it was paper-thin) blended with the pranks so both seemed to become better. A good use of a strong, long-standing Jackass prank. Thanks dan.