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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa 2013 * * * Stars

Bad GrandpaDirector: Jeff Tremaine
Year: 2013
Rated R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is in a word, ingenious. With star Johnny Knoxville milking everything he can out of this type of comedy, he turns a new chapter of crass indignities into another overly popular Jackass experiment. These films, which are essentially directed by the same guy (Jeff Tremaine) and feature Knoxville doing a slant on such comedians as Sacha Baron Cohen, belated has-been Tom Green, and to a small degree, Andy Kaufman, are really cheap to make. They also clean up at the box office. My way of thinking on this is why ruin a good thing. The difference with "Bad Grandpa" however, is that it actually has a wafer thin storyline (which believe me, is substantial enough). The other Jackness films were just a series of skits and gags made to make people laugh riotously. This new installment is also different for another reason. It provides applicable laughs while relying less on elaborate and dangerous stunts. Be assured though, the tasteless, vile, and rudimentary middle finger attitude that fans of these films crave, ultimately remains.

Now for harmless escapist entertainment and not to vehemently repeat myself, I've seen a couple of the past Jackass films. To be honest, I couldn't bring myself to review them. They are not really cinema in layman's terms. With "Bad Grandpa" however containing a plot with the barest of bones, I now have a foreseen ability to give all of you a formidable assessment. So the question is did I like it? My answer would be a reserved and surrendered yes.

Shot with the notion that the people on screen are not actors and the situations are disturbingly real (I personally thought some of the sequences were staged though especially the beginning funeral scene and Knoxville's character running over a penguin statue), Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa chronicles the cross country journey of 86 year old Irvin Zisman (played with serviceable prosthetics and somewhat accurate body language by prankster Johnny Knoxville) and his woefully neglected grandson Billy (played by Jackson Nicoll who's effortlessly perfect in his role). You see, Billy's mom is going to jail so Irvin has been saddled with the responsibility of delivering the kid to his lowlife father (living on skid row in rural North Carolina no less). They leave from Nebraska and road trip chaos ensues. The film, with its script almost totally improvisational (it has to be), allows the two main characters to shock people with their radically sickening behavior (a highlight for me would be Knoxville and Nicoll going through a fast food drive-thru window with said grandson pushing grandfather in a shopping cart).

In a masochistic sort of way, "Bad Grandpa" will make you laugh with feelings of surmised guilt. To what degree, I'm not sure. If the movies Borat and Bruno (this exercise feels like a hillbilly version of those films) are your cup of tea, then the sky's the limit. If said films don't or didn't appeal to you, then you may end up walking out of the theater (I could be wrong, who knows).

When it's all said and done though, I give credit to Knoxville for realizing that he needed to add a new tier of elements to keep this franchise chugging along. Basically, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa gives you just what you need if you're a fan of vehicles that have simple cash register juggernaut written all over them. This one adds a new title. It also inserts a weak yet mildly effective hook of a storyline carrying things through its routine like running time (most of these films top out between 85 and 95 minutes). I don't want to admit this, but what's on screen even becomes sort of touching towards the end (I mean that in the smallest detail possible). While viewing this flick, I realized why some people (like myself) like to go to the movies. They go to escape. It's as simple as that. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but if you want to forget about the trials and tribulations of everyday life, heading out to see this gut busting train wreck isn't such a "bad" idea.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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