Movie review: Bad Grandpa
3 out of 5 stars
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 28, 2013 22:10
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” probably isn’t for everyone. The film earns its R rating and then some. It also makes good use of the hidden camera comedy format made famous by 2006’s “Borat.”
Director Jeff Tremaine has helmed every Jackass movie to date and is back in the director’s seat for “Bad Grandpa.” The film features Johnny Knoxville as the recurring Jackass character, 86-year-old Irving Zisman.
The plot follows grandpa Zisman’s journey to return his grandson, played by Jackson Nicoll, to his father. It is a road trip that sees the pair travel across the country, and the film covers all of the antics they get into along the way. They range from small scale stunts to hitting on women (thus living up to the dirty old man stereotype) and from shoplifting to boozing it up at bingo.
Knoxville’s makeup is excellent. As far as appearance is concerned, he is almost unrecognizable. He doesn’t quite have the old man voice down, but he definitely gets the job done.
Overall, Knoxville makes for a convincing old man. Just ask any of the numerous people who were duped by the disguise. That’s the only way a movie like this can work. If the people you’re hiding the camera from aren’t buying the act, then the film fails to fulfill its purpose. In this film, it worked as the people clearly bought the performances of Knoxville and Nicoll.
Jackson Nicoll gives a decent performance as Zisman’s grandson and sidekick, Billy. Many times, child actors are greatly critiqued for their lack of acting experience. Nicoll isn’t great, but he does hold his own.
He’s not comedic dead weight as he performs well when given the chance. His interactions with adults made for some of the movie’s most humorous moments.
A scene involving an adult bookstore employee is a standout. That particular scene occurs when Billy is looking for his grandfather. It is scenes like this one, story-related scenes, that help make “Bad Grandpa” work.
While it is a loose one, the storyline that connects the various prank and hidden camera scenes make the film feel more like a film and less like a collection of stunt videos, the way other Jackass movies might feel.
It is this characteristic that makes filmgoers likely to draw comparisons to Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat. “Bad Grandpa” takes up the mantle very well and is easily the best use of the formula since “Borat” found success with it. Whereas “Borat” relied more on the characters’ interactions and conversations with other people for laughs, “Bad Grandpa” leans more on slapstick elements and the characters’ actions for its humor.
While it is not as funny as “Borat,” it is definitely the same kind of humor. It is the kind of humor that hinges on putting ordinary people in situations that could be considered uncomfortable, to say the least.
This kind of humor is divisive. If you aren’t really into the whole raunchy humor thing, “Bad Grandpa” might not be for you. If you don’t mind seeing an old man with his penis stuck in a vending machine, then by all means check it out.
I thought it was funny, but I understand that not everyone finds that sort of thing funny. If that is the kind of humor that you enjoy, then this movie might be right up your alley. If that is not really your thing, you might want to skip “Bad Grandpa”.
—Travis R. Williams