As much as I love Jackass, I’ve been worried about seeing the guys take a page out of Sasha Baron Cohen’s playbook by placing one of the series’ prank characters into a narrative/improv/hidden-camera hybrid feature film. Sasha Baron Cohen was a pro at it; he knocked it out of the park with Borat, but couldn’t even keep it going with his second film, Brüno – so how possible is it that Johnny Knoxville can pull it off? Fortunately, Bad Grandpa manages to earn plenty of laughs and conjure up a nice little amount of sentimentality – but it’s far from reaching Borat or Jackass heights.
I never expected to see more than a few minute straight minutes of Knoxville’s vulgar geriatric character Irving Zisman, but he’s found a way to stretch him out for 92 minutes. The narrative to Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is simple – just after an old man is made a widower, his daughter is thrown in prison, leaving him to take his grandson on a road trip to the boy’s father’s home. That’s it.
Along the way, the grandpa and grandson get into a lot of trouble. Fortunately, their shenanigans are mostly made up of hidden camera’s capturing the responses of unsuspecting bystanders. Just like Borat, the reactions to their hijinks are arguably funnier than the jackass stunts themselves. So long as you can handle irresponsible and inappropriate behavior, then you’ll laugh a lot.
The last thing that I expected was for this fake/real movie to have a heart, but it’s there. Towards the end, Grandpa and Grandson have some nice little moments together – in both scripted and unscripted situations.
I much rather would have liked to see Jackass Presents: Jackass 4, but I’ll take Bad Grandpa until that wish comes true.
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures