Never has dementia been so hilarious.
After years and years of being stuck in a rut with a marriage he didn’t much care for, Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) is finally let loose after his wife dies. But just as Irving’s about to go out on the prowl and begin the hunt for all sorts of female tail, his grandson (Jackson Nicoll) gets thrown onto him after his daughter gets shipped off to jail. Irving obviously doesn’t want this, all because it ruins his plans of bagging some sweet honeys, so he makes the date to drive his grandson all the way to meet up with his daddy. However, the main problem is that not only is the daddy a total deadbeat, but he’s also far as hell which means it’s just a road trip for Irving and his grandson, resulting in some seriously wacky hi-jinx that, at first, start off mean, but eventually, as the two begin to bond more and more, begins to get more in touch with the heart as if they were like your average grand-pop-grandson duo.
Except that it’s all fake, filmed in front of real people, who have no idea what the hell is going on.
With the whole Jackass franchise, we’ve all come to expect the same types of stunts and pranks being performed, by the same types of numskulls that never seem to tire of them. Plenty of testicles get hit; public places defecated in; cars broken; rectums bleeding; and a whole lotta of brain cells being lost. However, as mind-numbing as that may be to not only perform in, but to actually watch, they’re always enjoyable to watch, especially since you know that they’re doing this all for you, and also for the pot of Benjamins that’s at the end of the rainbow, but you get my drift. The Jackass franchise may never get old, even if the people who apart of it do, which is why I wasn’t too opposed to a Bad Grandpa movie, but then again, I wasn’t totally rooting for it to come back either.
Most of these hidden-camera movies work wonders (Borat), and sometimes, they don’t (Bruno). The problem with most of them is that it’s sometimes too hard to believe that any of the people that are getting tooled around with aren’t at least somewhat in on the joke. Because honestly, you have to think about it: In the year 2013, where we’ve had Sacha Baron Cohen doing his act more than a few times and all sorts of impersonators up on YouTube, that you’d think at least one person, or maybe even a few more, would catch onto the joke and spoil the whole act for everyone. However, the rest of society ceases to amaze me as not only did it seem like nobody had a single clue that this was all Johnny Knoxville underneath the prosthetic make-up, testicles and wigs, but that everything he did in front of them, was an ACTUAL REALISTIC ACTION FROM A REAL-LIFE HUMAN-BEING.
People amaze me, they really do, which is why this movie is probably one of the funnier hidden-camera movies (if you want to call it that) of some time. But there’s more to it than just a few pranks the movie plays on people to hilarious effect, it’s the whole idea surrounding it. In Borat, we had this one character going all around the country, showing the inner-most racist feelings of society, and broadcasting it for the whole world to see. Yes, there were a whole bunch of pranks behind it that benefited off of how over-the-top some of these people’s reactions were, but there was still a political agenda behind it all that really drove the thing home. As for Bruno, the political agenda was there in how this one obvious, openly homosexual character would go around from person-to-person, wearing all sorts of tight clothing, and practically waving his penis in front of their face, all to get a reaction out of them that was the least bit negative so that they could show it off as “being homophobic”. I don’t know how that sounds to you, but if a dude comes up to me and starts touching me and invading my private-space, I feel like any negative reaction out of my system would be reasonable, if not totally supported. However, as obvious as that movie was with what it was trying to get across, there were still pranks in it that fed off the reactions of the people they were messing with the most.
But that’s where this movie is separated from those two, because while there are plenty of times the movie does go towards a certain demographic that they want to poke fun at and get reactions out of, the movie still never feels like it’s wholly against them in a type of way that’s mean-spirited. Because, need I remind you, this is a Jackass movie and those guys aren’t really known for digging any deeper than ground-level surface, which is perfect for a movie as funny and as crazy as this. Most of the gags hit, and while some don’t, they’re still mildly enjoyable because there’s just such a nice feel surrounding it. When you pull a prank on a person, it’s always fun to see their reactions and best of all, to get their reactions when the joke itself is finally revealed to them, which is exactly what you’ll get during the end credits. So definitely do stick around for them, as they are more than likely going to give you a couple of giggles and chuckles as well.
While most of the humor does come from the outrageous pranks this grandpa and grandson pull on people, the charm of it all mainly comes from Johnny Knoxville and Jackson Nicoll who, together, give us one of the best screen-pairings I’ve seen for a comedy in awhile. And while I do recognize that there have been many others in the past not too long ago, the fact that this is between such a youngster and old guy, and they are both acting in some relatively real material, I have to give them more of the benefit of the doubt because there’s just such a naturalism between them both that works like gangbusters for the movie, as well as for the reactions from the peeps they interact with throughout the whole movie.
They both seem to be on the same page when it comes to what to say to a person on the spot, how to say it and when the right time is to start acting like total nut-balls, which shows just how much fun they have working together. Knoxville is on fire the whole time, just throwing out wise-cracks left-and-right, and never letting you forget that while this guy definitely does specialize in getting running over by bulls, he still has the comedic-talent to carry a movie on his own weight. But Knoxville certainly isn’t alone in this matter with Nicoll stealing the show by not only being the cutest kid in the world to ever call some girl a “hooker”, but that he’s also willing to do anything, regardless of how risky or dirty it may be. I want to know who his parents are so I can shake their hand and let them know that they’re some cool mofos for letting their little Jackson partake in a Jackass movie with none other than Mr. Knoxville himself. Wish my parents were that rad.
Consensus: Though it doesn’t go any deeper than just “messing with people in public places is fun”, Bad Grandpa is still a laugh-out-loud good time with plenty of hilarious pranks made better by the fact that Knoxville and Nicoll are dedicated to these characters the whole damn time, no matter what stands in their way of breaking character.
8 / 10 = Matinee!!