Fans of the Jackass series and the previous films will no doubt love Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. What it may lack in the sadism-for-humor’s-sake that’s practically a trademark for the previous entries, it more than makes up for with irreverence and shamelessness. For other viewers, it will depend entirely on how funny they find old people and kids being crude, and the looks on unsuspecting people’s faces as they get pranked.
Unlike the previous Jackass films and the TV series, Bad Grandpa actually features a “plot” that the pranks are written around. Octogenarian Irving Zisman (Knoxville under a LOT of prosthetics) finds himself placed in charge of his 8-year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) after the child’s mother is arrested and put in jail. Thing is, Irving was just getting ready to “mourn” the recent passing of his wife by getting out and getting randy with whomever he could get his hands on, so suddenly being attached at the hip to a kid is just about the worst thing that could happen at the worst possible time.
So begins a charming journey of old man and child, as they travel cross-country to North Carolina, where Billy’s father waits reluctantly to take in the kid, and bond as they cause all sorts of trouble along the way. Shoplifting from convenience stores, destroying public and private property, crashing bingo nights and wedding receptions, and verbally accosting any and all passers-by with the most inappropriate of questions, comments, and gestures are just some of ways in which old Irving and young Billy discover that they are perfect partners-in-crime.
If your concern or hesitance to see Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa has anything to do with the possibility that the best gags have already been spoiled by trailers and TV commercials for the film, be assured that your concerns are somewhat justified. Most of the gags, or at least bits and pieces of them, do appear in the film’s marketing, and thus some of their comedic impact may be softened.
But you can also be assured that there are quite a few gags and scenes in the film that simply could not be included in a trailer approved for all audiences, and it’s those that are quite possibly the most hilarious in the film. Some are raunchy, some are gross, some are just plain wrong, but almost all of them are funny unless you have no tolerance or stomach for this sort of arrested development, juvenile fare, in which case you’re not likely to be sitting in a theater watching it, anyway.
It should be said that as funny as Knoxville and Nicoll are — and they are funny, even in scenes by themselves when they’re not pranking anyone and they’re playing miscreant geriatric and miscreant-in-training child — what really makes Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa so irresistibly funny is the reactions they get from the folks around that aren’t in on the joke. Whether it’s a polite gathering for a funeral service, a group of well-meaning bikers faced with the one thing they hate most, an audience of proud parents and pageant moms at a pre-teen beauty contest, or just people at work or on the street, the varying degrees of shock, embarrassment, or humor they experience as the prank unfolds are what will make you laugh for most of the film’s 92-minute length. And you will laugh. You may hate yourself the whole time during and afterward, but you will laugh.
Score: 2.5 out of 5
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Starring Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll. Directed by Jeff Tremaine.
Running Time: 92 minutes
Rated R for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use.