Johnny Knoxville plays 86-year-old Irving Zisman who is looking after his 8-year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll).
Irving has had a tough time recently. His wife has just died and he was just looking to spread his wings with his new freedom when he gets saddled with traveling cross-country with his grandson.
Billy’s mom is about to do some prison time so Grandpa has to take Billy from Nebraska to North Carolina to stay with his low-life father who welcomes the idea of getting a nice monthly child support check for taking care of the kid. That should help pay some bills for his drug habit.
So Grandpa loads his dead wife in the trunk, tosses Billy in the car and the pair become an unlikely pair of traveling companions wrecking havoc all along their travels and encountering real people in order for the cameras to capture their real reactions to Grandpa’s and Billy wild behavior and antics.
People will immediately compare this to a Borat-type of movie. There’s a loose story premise, our leads stay in character as they mix things up with unsuspecting people who unknowingly become part of the story. Then you toss in some of the outrageous pranks and gags that Jackass was famous for and you have yourself a somewhat improvised flick.
And I will say I found it sporadically amusing. I was never bored watching it. It’s not sophisticated comedy and can get pretty tasteless, but that doesn’t mean it’s not funny. Some of the gags and scenarios are funnier than others. Some of the shock and reactions from their victims payoff better than others. I never found myself laughing uncontrollably at anything though. It’s probably not a movie I’ll be watching again.
What I was most impressed with was Knoxville’s makeup. They do a great job of having him look like an old man. He’s unrecognizable. It really sells the premise of him being this elderly man who’s saying and doing the most obscene things. It’s no wonder that the movie actually managed to get an Oscar nomination for makeup. Kind of wild to think anything from this lowbrow movie would get any kind of Oscar recognition.
Plus, young Nicoll is himself very funny and sincere in his role. He easily holds his own as this innocent young kid who catches normal people offguard with some of his surprising remarks. So the pair really try to milk the comedic gold of seeing two of the most innocently perceived members of society doing the most tasteless things. However, it’s sadly not as funny as it all should be.
It’s not bad. I don’t know if I would recommend anyone going to seek it out unless your a big Jackass fan and you enjoy this kind of stuff. But if you happen to catch it on television it might hold your interest and should give you some chuckles, at least for awhile.
I write reviews for my local paper, and people were astonished that I not only gave BAD GRANDPA a positive review, but also me stipulating they deserve to win the Academy Award. Consider this: the LAST VEGAS guys, the AMERICAN HUSTLE gang…they have NOTHING on Johnny Knoxville, who constantly throws himself in situations which could mean his ass kicked all over the place; those other guys, none of them, would be able to deal with that kind of pressure. Knoxville and Stephen Prouty's makeup is so realistic and believable that he they had every unsuspecting American around them believe that Knoxville was in fact this old fart who loves black ladies; as for those other guys, they get 57 takes in a controlled environment. As Knoxville himself said, without makeup this "movie" wouldn't even exist…so they do deserve to win, regardless what the Academy members may think of the "jackass" brand.
The popularity of this junk just depresses me. It's obvious that there will always be an audience for brain-dead, lowest common denominator gross-out humor that the Jackass brand shovels into the public sewer every other year or so. I wouldn't come near any of this with a ten-foot pole, but apparently some people just can't get enough. Well, they are less offensive than the weirdos who get off off on the Saw films, I guess.
I would still watch this over an Adam Sandler product any day of the week 🙂
And Adam Sandler over Rob Schneider, I hope.