Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa - 2013

"Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" - 2013
Dir. by Jeff Tremaine - 1 hr. 32 min.

Red Band Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

"Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" is the evolution of the Jackass brand of comedy.  Or, just as accurately, it's taken lessons from Sacha Baron Cohen in how to blend prank stunts into a more traditional narrative, so that it feels more like "a movie."  That's a positive thing, overall, particularly for Johnny Knoxville's health.  It shifts the onus of the comedy from constantly, dangerously raising the bar to building sympathy for a character, which for the most part doesn't include things like people getting shot or tasered.  Having said that, the stunts will still please "Jackass" fans.

The plot, which is pretty much an excuse for a road trip full of pranks, is that Irving Zisman's (Johnny Knoxville) wife has died, which doesn't upset him that much.  However, his daughter, Kimmie (Georgina Cates) is staring down a jail term, and needs Irving to transport his grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll) to his father, who lives in North Carolina.

The discussion of "Bad Grandpa" is probably going to center on what your favorite segment of the film was.  There's plenty to choose from; my favorite joke involved an airbag, my favorite extended sequence was the infiltration of a beauty pageant.  That was probably the only part that wasn't a joke for a joke's sake (although it was a great joke), instead making explicit the creepy subtext of child pageants.  A close second place takes place in a bar during Ladie's Night.  It's difficult to talk about much of the film, as it would constitute spoiling the jokes, which would dampen anyone's enjoyment.  In a general sense, it is often the case with prank movies, the best material isn't always the stunt itself, but capturing people's reactions to the proceedings.  There's plenty of legit double takes, mothers shielding their childrens' eyes, and deeply concerned passerbys.

The Bad Grandpa character isn't a new one if you've been watching "Jackass" over the years, so if you've seen any of it before, you'd know what to expect.  But the addition of Billy adds a different dynamic to the film.  And he gets a large share of the jokes, as well; this isn't a case of some kid being trotted out to further embarrass people with his mere presence.  Jackson Nicoll is more than game here, seeming like Dennis the Menace if people were encouraging him instead of trying to tamp down his mischief-causing instincts.  On the whole, "Bad Grandpa" is a funny movie.  There's nothing wrong with repeating what works, like with the previous Jackass movies, but transitioning one of the characters into a narrative (even if it's a very loose one) is enough of a refresh of the formula to make the jokes feel new again.  How much you'll enjoy this film probably depends on how much you like Jackass and Johnny Knoxville, and how much you enjoy R-rated comedies, but if you're yeah on any of those accounts, "Bad Grandpa" will hit the spot.

3 / 5 - Theatre

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