Few films are more difficult to review than those consisting of a string of sketches. In the case of Sasha Baron Cohen’s Borat, it was easy to point its humor and the amount of scathing satire contained within. When it comes to something like the Jackass movies, they are nothing more than pranks; not that there’s anything wrong that. So it was rather surprising to see the gang’s new film, Bad Grandpa, bearing an actual narrative to move the plot along.
Taking a huge note from Borat, Johnny Knoxville returns to the big screen as the titular character, 86-year-old Irving Zisman, heading cross country with his grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll). Irving’s wife has just died and on top of that, his daughter has shown up late to the funeral, only to dump Billy in his lap and demand Irving return Billy to his father in North Carolina. Now, Irving must hit the road, stopping everywhere in between Nebraska and North Carolina to raise as much hell as possible along the way.
The full title of the film is Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and they definitely deliver more of the same. If you’re a fan of the Jackass hooligans then you’ll find plenty to laugh at here. Not every prank is a piece of comedy gold, and director Jeff Tremaine keeps the yuks and yucks arriving at high speed. Unfortunately, the so-called screenplay, credited to Tremaine, Knoxville, and Spike Jonze (yes, the same man behind Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Where the Wild Things Are), almost comes to a complete halt anytime they veer away from whatever prank they have up their sleeve.
Thankfully, the pranks the Jackass crew did come up with are pretty much all hilarious, if not just from watching a poor innocent bystander’s reactions. They even saved the funniest for last involving a beauty pageant — but let’s just say they’ve elevated fart gags to a whole new level. Bad Grandpa is obviously not for everyone but if you’re looking for lewd, crude, and hilarious, Bad Grandpa is one for the books.
Photos courtesy Paramount Pictures