Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Release date: October 25, 2013
Running time: 92 minutes
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll
Who to see it with: Candid Camera fans who get the appeal of Sacha Baron Cohen and Jackass but think they're sometimes too shocking


Bad Grandpa is a departure from the formula of the last three Jackass films. Instead of simply stringing together a series of disconnected pranks and stunts, BG connects its jokes with a plot about a disorderly grandfather and grandson's road trip. A heavily made-up Johnny Knoxville does most of the comedic work, but Nicoll is charming as his rude, less over-the-top sidekick. The plot is thin but actually develops a convincing bond between the initially distant relatives.

The pair's unusual behavior gets funny reactions from unsuspecting witnesses in ways like Sacha Baron Cohen's characters, but their actions are generally more lighthearted and slapstick rather than provocative. They leave unsuspecting witnesses hysterically laughing and humorously confused almost as often as they make them uncomfortable. BG is better described as a semi-scripted, loosely connected series of fairly bawdy hidden camera jokes rather than a Borat-like mockumentary. Jackass fans who wouldn't have minded more of the same immature horseplay and outrageous behavior will be most disappointed. The Jackass crew is absent except for Knoxville and the most extreme actions here pale in comparison to the other films' shameless heights. Some pranks have great setups and hilariously reactive audiences. Others feel uninspired, too stupid or underutilized for comedic purposes, especially a lengthy one near the end that seems designed for the narrative's conclusion rather than for laughs. The film's final big prank is funny but feels a bit too similar to the climax of another comedy (naming it would be a spoiler). Bad Grandpa's discomforting, hidden comedy antics and thin plot should broaden its appeal beyond the typical Jackass audience but disappoint longtime fans.

Rent it.

PS - Scenes play during the credits that show unseen footage and shed some light on the production process. You'll probably won't expect a few of the names in the short cast list.

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