‘Bad Grandpa’: Review

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I’ve long been a Jackass fan and will continue to watch whatever they spew out from now until eternity. Things will change in my life, people will come and go, relationships will thrive and then crumble, jobs will come and go, houses, mortgages, taxes, marriage, kids, birthdays, and then death. All these things will happen to at least some changing degree in my life, but one thing will remain constant. I will throw money at whatever the Jackass cast does in any endeavour. I have quite literally seen everything they’ve ever done, movies/TV shows, bought books, T-shirts, video games, you name it, I am insane. With all this being said, I had literally no clue that this movie was even being made until the first trailer popped up online, and I was sold immediately.

Irving Zisman always seemed like one of Johnny Knoxville’s favourite things to do in the Jackass movies. As much as he was great and daring to do stunts, he was even better at pulling pranks, having that acting and improv mentality at the base of himself more so than any other cast member. It was always a good device for pranks, being able to pull them in the first place, and of course all these ludicrous and twisted things coming from an 80-some year old man. The film pretty brilliantly tells a narrative story, Zisman traveling across the states to deliver his grandson to his ex(?) son-in-law after his daughter is sent to jail, by using these two actors through interactions with real-life people. There are the pranks and stunts, but a majority of them are not entirely random, with some kind of story element tied to it, whether it’s the location, or trying to get rid of his dead wife, or eventually reaching the meeting spot to hand off his grandson (a biker bar, nonetheless). I don’t if I’ve ever seen anything like this before, and it was a pretty neat idea, with two actors telling a story through random people and their reactions.

The film obviously borrows heavily from the Sacha Baron Cohen school of Borat and Bruno, and come to think of it, I’m dumb, those movies were doing that exact narrative thing basically the same. They set-up pranks, whether elaborate as a funeral scene, or just as simply as having Jackson Nicoll (the son) approach random people and say something funny in part in a bit. The bit and pranks are never consistently laugh-out-loud, save for a couple segments, but it’s good enough that it can always be relied on to get a chuckle or two out of you. It doesn’t reach any great heights, and relies on a pretty simple story structure, plot and the exact humour you’d expect from the guys who’ve spent a career off of all of this.

After the death of Ryan Dunn I wondered if they’d ever do another Jackass film again (If it does indeed happen that’s going to be weird for me to watch giving the cloud that still hangs over it for me after all the Dunn stuff). This seemed like a perfect idea to stick with the Jackass brand and humour but to branch out into something different, but still maintain the themes and style that Jackass has created. Who knows what the brain trust has in store next, but I’ll be there with testicle-shaped bells on.



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