It’s been some time since I did a full on review here. It’s been even longer since it has been a movie review. But since I think I am the first on The Flickcast staff to check it out, it only felt write to post my thoughts on Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. The other night I got to check out the advances screening of the latest work from Johnny Knoxville and the Jackass team.
But instead of being just a hidden camera prank movie, Johnny and the team put together a narrative that ties all of their stunts and pranks together. This story features Johnny in the role of Irving, an elderly gentleman who just lost his wife who is charged with driving his grandson Billy cross country to his deadbeat dad. As expected, “Hilarity ensues”. (Keeping this review spoiler free, especially since a lot of the pranks are in the commercial)
During Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, there is a mix of improv scenes between Irving and Billy to help develop their relationship and try to put some heart in the movie, though many times they fall flat. My Whiskey and Waffles counterpart put it the best as he described two different Johnny Knoxvilles. There is an actor Johnny Knoxville and the prankster Johnny Knoxville.
While the same person, the outward appearance of their actions stand out against each other. The issue doesn’t come from either of these not being believable or enjoyable but when they are presented with each other in the same project, they just don’t mesh well. Unlike Borat which gave a full one hundred percent commitment to the bit, Bad Grandpa just isn’t as believable and comes across as more of a hidden camera feel rather than the faux documentary.
When you shy away from the story and just look at the pure prank humor, Bad Grandpa hits on all cylinders. While it doesn’t have the same pacing as an episode of Jackass or even the other films, the pranks are actually much more clever. The staged pranks have much more planning behind them and get better reactions than just a standard scream or eye roll from their victim. One thing that stood out is the pranks, no matter how elaborate never felt like they came across as mean. In the end, it left the people involved with a smile once they found out things weren’t real where as some of the pranks going on now online are usually pretty one sided. The fact that Knoxville’s team is able to pull off some of the extreme things they do proves how talented they are.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa isn’t a bad film by any stretch and has some fantastic laugh out loud moments. But it doesn’t flow in the same way a traditional film would. The degrees of separation between the pranks and the story get in the way of it falling into the category of being specifically one or the other and the mashup in the middle is definitely an awkward one at times. This may have been one of the times it would have worked as an extended themed episode of the show rather than a theatrical release in the end.