Although they could hardly be called movies, the previous “Jackass” films succeeded at everything they set out to accomplish. Though most would never want to admit it, it’s difficult not to laugh at the raunchy pranks Johnny Knoxville and co. set out to unleash onto the world. With “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” however, a slightly different approach was taken, but the laughs are still cheap, abundant, and worth the price of admission.
The film sets up the slightest of plot-lines, involving an 86 year-old man named Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) who is charged with escorting his eight year-old grandson (Jackson Nicoll) to stay with his father after his mother goes to jail on drug charges. What proceeds is a series of Jackass style pranks and comedy bits that take place on the road from Lincoln to Raleigh.
As a secondary plot-line, Irving’s wife has passed away and he decides to take the body with them, keeping her corpse in the trunk of his beat up Lincoln until he can find a proper place to dispose of her. As one can imagine, this makes for additional gags involving the body. As an interesting side note, Irving’s dead wife is actually portrayed by Spike Jonze, producer of this film and director of such films as “Where the Wild Things Are” and the upcoming “Her.”
The major plot threads act as a through line simply to get to the next setup, however as the film progresses, a surprisingly heart warming story begins to surface, involving a grandfather connecting with his estranged grandson and once again finding a purpose in life after losing his soul mate. Of course, any sentimental moments are completely overshadowed by fart and poop jokes, staged stunts, and plenty of victim reactions.
It’s the reactions of these bystanders that often prove to be the funniest aspects of the film. To see how random people would react when seeing an old man with his penis stuck in a vending machine, or witnessing an eight year-old doing a strip tease, is priceless.
Like "Borat," while watching this movie, most people will be wondering what is real and what isn't. Fortunately, there's some great making of footage during the end credits which seems to be added as assurance to the audience that what you saw was not fake.
While not all the jokes and bits landed, the ones that did hit hard. This is a film that will leave many in tears through its gross-out sight gags, and the musings of the vulgar protagonist. “Bad Grandpa” is a film that can easily be dismissed by most as just another stupid Jackass movie, and they wouldn’t be completely wrong. The thing to remember however is that this not a film designed to be deep or be riddled with subtext, it’s there to make you laugh, and laugh you will.