Director: Jeff Tremaine
Writers: Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Spike Jonze, Georgina Cates
Synopsis: Irving Zisman (Knoxville) suddenly finds himself having to look after his 8 year-old grandson Billy (Nicoll) after his mother is taken to jail. Not wanting to face the responsibility, he decides it would be easier to travel across the country and drop him off with his dad. On the journey, however, he soon realises he’s actually quite fond of the kid.
In all three Jackass movies the least interesting skits have been with the old man/old lady played by Johnny Knoxville and Spike Jonze, respectively. The announcement of a spin-off centred purely on Knoxville’s old man, Irving Zisman, didn’t feel like the right direction for the team to take. After Ryan Dunn’s death (to whom this film dedicates itself to) the idea of a new Jackass movie seemed unlikely and imprudent – but for all those adoring fans, how else could we get to see the Dickhouse group dick around? Bad Grandpa is the answer to that question, additionally quashing the concerns from Zisman’s unenthusiastic audience.
Bad Grandpa, taken on by Paramount, becomes another entry in their catalogue alongside Airplane, Anchorman and the side-splitting Jackass trilogy. The result of director Jeff Tremaine, writer Spike Jonze and the all-singing, all-dancing Johnny Knoxville is a sketch film not as great as the ensemble stunt cinema, but funnier than practically anything out right now.
The jokes work on such a basic level – with the Jackass crew professionals at simple, inane comedy – whereby no cinemagoer should feel too disheartened if “bits” aren’t masterful examples of jesting. Saying that, some set-ups in Bad Grandpa have clearly been given some technical and time-consuming treatment, to a degree where the reality and staging become blurred. You cry with laughter at how intense some moments become.
The other laughs come from Knoxville’s performance and his wonderful way with words. So many catchphrases derive from Zisman’s dialogue, with an extra zing coming from Knoxville’s boyish charm (under that make-up). Focusing on an elderly character gives him virtually free-reign with saying and doing things; people just don’t want to correct or confront an old man. You can often see jokes and lines coming, but Knoxville always manages to bring spontaneity to the predictable.
It is mostly Jackson Nicoll as the grandson Billy that inspires shock. The boy seamlessly unites himself with the Jackass group to a point where you sometimes wonder if he knows about the joke and is not just playing along. The greatest sketch in the film – a young girl’s beauty pageant that Zisman and Billy crash – is Nicoll’s shining moment. No child actor has been this funny in years, and if a sequel is possible, it’ll be tremendous to see more from him.
Like all of Dickhouse’s work, there is so much more to be had on the DVD. The credits of Bad Grandpa are mainly made up of behind-the-scene footage – a supplementary 5 minutes of infectious laughter. Tremaine and his team can always tickle your funny bone, with Bad Grandpa being a pleasant surprise spinning-off from the likes of Steve-O, Wee Man, Bam, etc...
Also posted on LiveForFilms