Sunday, 3 November 2013

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa - The Review

With Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, director Jeff Tremaine continued his winning streak, helming his fourth consecutive Jackass film to #1 in the US with help from fellow screenwriters Knoxville and Spike Jonze, the co-creators of the Jackass show. Success is one thing, but have the boys still got it or is Bad Grandpa as dated as its octogenarian star?

Comparisons to Borat and The Dictator are inevitable but unfair. The Jackass series was the first to bring hidden camera pranks into the mainstream and while they may not be as intelligent as Sacha Baron-Cohen's efforts, the franchises box office success speaks for itself. Despite this though, I felt that by the third installment, Jackass was running low on ideas. Using the same unstructured format for each film left the decade-old series feeling tired and samey, so it was a stroke of genius on the film makers part to mix things up for the latest entry.

Series ringleader Johnny Knoxville stars as Irving Zisman, an eighty-six year old pervert tasked with taking his eight year old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) across America to live with his deadbeat father (Greg Harris). Modeled on the plot of Ryan O'Neal's classic Paper Moon, this basic narrative loosely links together a series of pranks that range from Knoxville trapping his penis in a vending machine to him dancing against male strippers with an elastic testicle hanging out of his pants. Bergman this ain't!

This kind of comedy is hit and miss by its very nature but while Bad Grandpa has received mixed reviews from critics, there are plenty of laughs to be had watching this film. Stand out moments include a seriously awkward funeral at the films outset and a girls beauty pageant where young star Nicoll does the best drag dance sequence you've seen since John Travolta laced up Edna Turnblad's dancing shoes in Hairspray.

Originally introduced in the final season of Jackass, Zisman is the perfect vehicle for Knoxville's antics and his chemistry with grandson Billy allows the pair of them to get away with so much more than the regular Jackass crew ever could in previous films. What's more endearing than a 'sweet' old man and his grandson on a road trip? Physical stunts feature less frequently than normal due to the age of the characters so reliance on the public's stupidity became key for this installment. Luckily, the American public are more than game. Watch in horror as one post office worker actually agrees to deliver eight year old Billy across state in a cardboard box!

bad-grandpa trolley

Critics may complain that the plot is simply an excuse to showcase random jokes and to be honest, they probably aren't wrong, but I was surprised to see some genuinely good acting in this film. Bad Grandpa may not blow voters minds come Oscar season, but Nicolls is very impressive as the grandson, anchoring the key relationship between him and his sleazy grandfather Zisman.

Plot never seemed to be particularly important in previous Jackass films but for Bad Grandpa, director Tremaine considered it to be so key that he had to remove entire characters in the editing suite, just because they didn't naturally fit the narratives arc. Fans of the film would do well to buy the DVD when it comes out to catch a glimpse of academy award nominated director Spike Jonze as an old lady called Gloria, who joins Zisman for an awkward conversation in a sex therapists office.

Think that's strange? Look carefully at the corpse of Zisman's first wife Ellie. It's only academy award nominated actress Catherine Keener! Unfortunately, flashbacks featuring her and Zisman also didn't make the cut. And there I was thinking the Jackass franchise didn't even have an editor! Remember to catch some of the more memorable bloopers during the end credits.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa may not be 'good' cinema per se, but its funny as hell in places and you'll be hard pressed to find a movie that makes you laugh harder this year. Many critics forget that films should entertain first and foremost so if like them, you're looking for a film that answers the big questions in life, then you may be disappointed, but if you're curious to find out what happens when an old man sharts up the wall of a restaurant, then this is the film for you. And at the end of the day, what's so wrong with that?

No comments:

Post a Comment