It’s been all of three years since the “festival of foolishness” known as Jackass has provided the world with a new installment of dangerous, yet highly amusing antics. However, despite the gap in these films, the “parade of pain” front-man Johnny Knoxville has kept his acting skills fresh in six roles since his last appearance in Jackass: 3D (2010), including one alongside legendary action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Well, Knoxville and Jackass director Jeff Tremaine have brought their sick sense of humor back to the big screen with Bad Grandpa, a semi-scripted adventure with a generous helping of candid pranks and gags. For the first time in Jackass history, there is actually somewhat of a story and purpose behind their newest film.
Eight-year-old Billy (Jackson Nicoll) is in need of a new home when he finds out that his mom is going back to prison for drugs. His only other family is his low-life dad, Chuck (Greg Harris), and 86-year-old grandfather Irving (Knoxville), whose wife has recently passed away. Irving’s daughter (Billy’s mom) Kimmie (Georgina Cates) tasks him with delivering Billy to Chuck in Raleigh, N.C., and the hijinks immediately ensue over the entire course of their road trip.
Irving makes it quite apparent that he is nothing short of ecstatic at the news of his wife’s passing and plans to proceed with what’s left of his life to “chase tail.”
Billy, on the other hand, has no desire to make the trip to his father, but Irving wants nothing to do with the boy and leaves him on his own quite often at the start of their journey.
While the old man is finding nothing but trouble at male strip clubs, Billy combs the streets asking any and every middle-aged male passerby if they want to be his new dad.
At the start of their trip, Irving would love nothing more than to ditch Billy on the side of the road, even attempting to ship him to Raleigh in a cardboard box via FedEx, but once he realizes what a chick magnet and prankster the kid is, they quickly become partners in crime.
Nothing goes too far, nobody is safe, and nowhere is off limits as the duo begins extreme farting contests in restaurants, crashing weddings, and riding around in grocery carts just like the good ‘ole Jackass days.
That’s the basic story and gist of the scripted side to this movie: Billy and Irving traveling to Raleigh while making plenty of funny stops along the way. Now, as far as the insanity that takes place, it’s all done before unsuspecting civilians with hidden cameras strategically placed to capture their reactions.
Keep in mind, absolutely everyone isn’t clueless to what’s happening.
Social actors are sprinkled throughout segments that take place before large groups of people in order to act surprised, disgusted, etc. and help ensure that those who aren’t in on the jokes believe that it’s really happening. Many of the tricks are done before as little as two people, in which case smaller interactions like this are in fact complete surprises.
Yes, this is a Jackass comedy and it does feel rather routine in some spots, but, Mr. Knoxville is more than deserving of huge recognition for his acting in this installment.
It not only requires an immense amount of self-discipline to not lose character and blurt out laughing whenever you succeed in pulling the wool over the live audience’s eyes, but he’s extremely convincing in how he portrays being a rambunctious, womanizing, “no-holds-barred” old man.
Obviously Knoxville has quite a bit of experience in the field of public stunts and pranks, but that shouldn’t take away from the incredible disguise he sports or the value of his acting.
Knoxville is only half of the act, and 9-year-old Nicoll deserves just as much credit as his already well-established comic companion.
There’s no debating how innocent and adorable he looks, and that is no question his best weapon in this movie. The obscene topics he talks about very freely in the film to complete strangers will catch you just as off-guard as the person he’s talking to, and the adult mind he has will definitely shock you. This adds a whole new comedic element to the mix, as well as the fact that the chemistry between him and Knoxville is hysterically perfect.
Knoxville’s fictional grandfather character has been included in shenanigans in other Jackass movies/episodes, but this is his first step into the limelight for an entire movie. Paired up with Jackass newcomer Nicoll, the pair never pump the brakes and consistently deliver laughs throughout the course of the film. The dialogue between the two in the car between stunts is side-splitting enough, and fans/prospective viewers will be happy to know that the majority of the jokes are actually not given away in the trailer. If you haven’t laughed today or want to do plenty more of it, Knoxville and Nicoll will more than do the trick.