– Summary –
Director : Jeff Tremaine
Year Of Release : 2013
Principal Cast : Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Greg Harris, Georgina Cates, Spike Jonze, Catherine Keener.
Approx Running Time : 91 Minutes
Synopsis: An elderly man transports his unwanted grandchild across country to find his deadbeat father.
What we think : Sporadically funny, sometimes gut-bustingly so, this Jackass feature lacks momentum and spends too long dwelling in inanity and not enough time in ripping into its victims, but the end result is pleasantly diverting.
Not quite bad, just irritating.
Johnny Knoxville’s one-man show, Bad Grandpa, hits plenty of right notes, although often not hard enough, or with enough zing to make this extended skit worth the 90 minutes it’ll take to watch. Knoxville’s makeup is excellent (it has to be, because it fools everyone he comes in contact with) and he somehow manages to stay in character throughout all his shenanigans (I’d love to see an outtakes reel), but the real-life set-ups take too long to get going, and often lack the bite and screaming hysteria Jackass (and Knoxville) are known for. Knoxville plays Irving (not the same character Christian Bale played in American Hustle, mind you), an elderly gent recently bereaved and forced to take his “grandson” Billy across country to his deadbeat dad (and Irving’s son-in-law). Along they way, they engage in a variety of pranks on real people, such as a funeral for Irving’s wife that goes horribly wrong, Irving trying to ship Billy across country via UPS, Irving having a shot at strip dancing with his enormous scrotum dangling down, and – in probably the best scene, which opens the film – getting his penis stuck in a vending machine. Filmed “candid camera” style, like much of Jacksass’ stuff, the movie tends to amble through its lazy setups and stumbles more often than it strides confidently, as the whacky Irving and his misbegotten grandson encounter poor, unsuspecting members of the public.
Bad Grandpa’s premise is intriguing, if not entirely humorous in and of itself. Knoxville, made up to look like an elderly coot, together with a chipmunk-cheeked kid, pull pranks on random people along their “journey” across country. While a lot of Bad Grandpa’s prank material is funny, and at times approaches hysterical (the aforementioned penis-in-a-vending-machine is gut-busting, not the least for the prosthetic cock but more for the range of reactions from members of the public), for the most part it just feels too haphazard to be interesting. Had they skipped the “story” element of the film, and just stuck to the pranks (which is what we all come to see from the Jackass crew, right?), the film might have had more bite, more veiled snark than it ends up with. Knoxville is controversially offensive, or attempts to be (his sucker-punch delivery of old-man charm then adult-bawdy vulgarity wavers between intentionally awkward and just plain idiotic), while Jackson Nicoll is surely a wonder at behaving like a kid douche, so I guess if you want some mildly offensive candid camera entertainment this will probably suffice, but it lacks the hard edge promised by that vending machine moment.