Bad Grandpa

Bad Grandpa photo starrating-3andahalfstars.jpgThe “story” concerns an 86 year old man driving his grandson across the heartland of America. Young Billy needs to stay with his father while his mother is in jail. But Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is not a movie in the traditional sense. This is a compendium of skits whereby a 42 year old Johnny Knoxville is made up to look like an elderly man, ageing lothario Irving Zisman. He’s paired with 9 year old actor Jackson Nicoll who plays Billy, the little boy. He’s a cute tyke and his obvious chemistry with Knoxville is genuine. Over the next 92 minutes we’re treated to a sequence of hidden camera stunts.

I’ve never been much of a fan of the Jackass franchise whose sole purpose was to simply show numskulls doing dangerous pratfalls. Bad Grandpa differs from the rest of the series in that there is the loose connecting thread of a plot mixed in with the silly high jinks. Many will be quick to compare this to Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 hidden camera trick movie. But let’s face it. They both owe their existence to Allen Funt’s long running TV show Candid Camera. The formula entertains in a similar fashion. The humor is based more on real people’s responses than the ridiculous antics themselves. The added component allows Bad Grandpa to triumph where the other Jackass pictures fell short.

Bad Grandpa is definitely not a film I would recommend to everyone. Things can get pretty crude. It pains me to say this, but I laughed a lot. The surprise is the gags successfully mine comedy at its most basic form. Watching what appears to be an old man hurtle through the air on a malfunctioning coin operated kiddie ride is hilarious in the same way that slipping on a banana peel is funny. Even funnier than the actual stunt, however, is the bystander’s reaction to those shenanigans. Watch the horrified faces of attendees at a mock funeral as they eavesdrop on a discussion grandpa and mom have over who’s going to take care of little Billy. It’s gut-busting. Occasionally the stunts aim even higher. Dressing the boy up like a girl and crashing a child beauty contest is amusing in the obvious sense, but it pokes fun at those questionable contests as well. I’m not saying this is a satire. This is lowbrow humor, but hey, that can be enjoyable too. I mean those sophisticated cartoons in the New Yorker are kind of overrated anyway.


30 Responses to “Bad Grandpa”

  1. Holy sh*t you gave it a 3.5 star rating! 😀

    I am reserving this as a Movie to See With Friends, so I won’t be going it alone like i do a great many other flicks. lol. I’m surprised to see a positive review for this, i see the kid getting really annoying and Irving Zistman wearing out his welcome quick, tho i do love the concept.


    • Your initial exclamation is crude, but somehow most appropriate for this film. 😉

      Actually I fully expected to like it because the trailer had me rolling on the floor.


      • lol yeah that kinda was. the trailer has me interested. i’m all for Johnny Knoxville n all. just bracing myself in case.


  2. Wow. I didn’t expect that review when I opened this. Well written, as always. Thanks!


  3. GaryLee828 Says:

    Get off the floor, Mark, it’s filthy!! 🙂

    The part where he argues with Billy’s mom over who will take care of Billy at the mock funeral sounds hilarious! This looks pretty bad on the previews, but I need to watch that scene, and if that’s any good I will try to give it a chance. I don’t think it’s my kind of movie, though; not b/c it’s too crude but it looks staged to me. If it’s authentic then I would be more open to it. It’s just that Knoxville doesn’t look like an old man. Look at how effortlessly he moves around. His motions are much too fast and free. 86 year olds don’t move like that – not even the ones in great health. And his face looks like a mask. There aren’t good details of how an 86 year-old would look.

    At least this is how it appears to me on the trailer. I’d love to be wrong and learn that it is as great as you make it sound. I think the problem here is that Knox is doing too much physical comedy for an 86 year old. The argument at the mock funeral could work b/c he won’t have to do much moving, etc. I definitely need to see that scene.


    • I think what makes Bad Grandpa work doesn’t rely on whether we the audience accept him to be an old man, it’s if the people he’s pranking, accept it. And they do.

      Did you enjoy Borat? How about Bruno? Those are your best guide as to whether you’ll enjoy this. 🙂


      • GaryLee828 Says:

        I avoided Borat & Bruno b/c I thought they looked dumb. I also haven’t watched any of the Jackass films for the same reason.

        I agree with you that it’s only important if the spectators believe Knox is an old man, but that’s actually what I was referring to; my point was that b/c he doesn’t really look old, that the pranks have to be staged and the recipients of the pranks are merely acting. It just doesn’t seem plausible to me that the people in the movie actually believe he’s an 86 year old man. His movements are way too free and sharp, and his face although wrinkled, looks ultra smooth.

        Of course I haven’t seen the movie, so cannot say for sure, but that’s how it seems to me based on the trailer. But I do want to see that mock funeral scene, and if I like that then I’m willing to give it a chance.

        I’ll be looking out for your “The Counselor” review within the next week, or so – and I expect low marks. When first hearing about The Counselor I thought it would be good, but over the last couple of weeks just got this feeling it’s a dud. I have a feeling you’re not going to dig it and you may rip it to shreds in your review.


  4. I kind of loved Borat so maybe this is one to consider on Netflix some time in the future.


  5. Wasn’t really interested in this when I saw trailers etc, but your review intrigues me. Might look out for this when it hits DVD shelves.


  6. You compare this to Borat. Is it just as funny? If so I’m in…seen that twice and never laughed harder in my life.



    • The idea is the same. Borat was more mean-spirited than this.


      • Aww. But that’s why it was funny! The gypsy tears thing and the whole search for Pamela Anderson…and the deleted scenes (where he goes to the vet and tries to find a dog trained to know who’s Jewish and who’s not…and makes the person working there wear devil horns)……’s all side-splitting.


  7. Nice review. I’ve never gotten into the series (for me they just repeat the same joke and set-up over and over), and I don’t watch I’ll catch Bad Grandpa.


  8. Never been a massive fan of Jackass, but like your review indicates, I got a definite Borat vibe off the trailer. I love Borat, so think I’ll like this one. The beauty pageant scene in the trailer absolutely slays me, when Sweet Cherry Pie kicks in, and Grandpa starts throwing money at the stage. 😀


  9. It’s a lot better than other hidden-camera movies because it feels like it just wants to do pranks, and nothing else. That simple feel rarely comes along with these types of movies, and it was a treat to watch and laugh at. Good review Mark.


  10. I thought this was so funny. I laughed out loud so many times. I had a great time with this. I loved the part at the end when they revealed to the victims that it was Johnny Knoxville. That was awesome. The little kid was very good too. 4 stars.


  11. I love how you put the word story in quotation marks when describing the plot for Bad Grandpa haha. From the sound of your review, this movie is pretty much exactly what I expected. I really did enjoy Jackass, but mostly during their outrageous hidden camera skits and more innocent slapstick gags, so I would probably laugh a fair amount at Bad Grandpa. I never quite thought the huge dangerous stunts or nasty sequences were as funny. Like you say in your review, watching reactions from the unsuspecting bystanders is where the real humor comes in. Despite you largely positive reception, I’ll still probably wait to see this one at home.


  12. You’re right, it’s a “story” not a story. This is a bunch of skits, where the creators try and put two unfortunate characters in one misadventure after another, and apparently, the goal is to get the kid to his dad’s house, but there’s so much distraction. I’m halfway through this movie and I’m not finding it funny at all. It’s crude, depraved, racist, sexist, sad, and overall repetitive. So much, that the humor just doesn’t show through.

    Sent from my iPhone



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