Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Blu-ray)
Paramount / 2013 / 103 min / R
In the age of viral videos, just how can the boys of Jackass compete? Sure, they set a standard for stupid stunts and shock-reaction skits, but now they have some serious competition that makes their exploits look like dated concepts. They're still funny, but wouldn't quite work as well today. Well, if you can't beat them, join them. Taking a cue from films like Borat and Bruno, this latest Jackass production infuses an original character and a story into all the shock. And, for the most part, it works.
Thanks to some stunning makeup effects, Johnny Knoxville transform into Irving Sizman, an old man ecstatic at the recent death of his wife. When his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) needs a ride to his dad while his mom is in prison, Irving is forced to escort Billy on a road trip. That still doesn't mean that he puts his newfound lady-prowling, bachelor lifestyle on hold as still attempts to woo the ladies along the way. As for Billy, all he wants is somebody to fish with since his dad is a deadbeat.
So, yeah, you can see where this kind of story is going, but that's not the point of the film. The whole road trip, as with most road trip films, is an excuse for some wild antics. And with the Jackass team, these are prime pranks. Some are ingeniously simple as the duo go for public reactions from them both drinking beer in public to Billy constantly slamming Irving in the groin. Some are incredibly elaborate as when Irving attempts to fix a mechanical riding device that sends him straight through a glass window. In other words, it's more of that iconic slapstick and shock we've come to expect from these productions.
As reluctant as I was for another outing with the Jackass boys, I have to admit that they still made me laugh. I wasn't rolling with every single bit, but there were a few moments that made me smirk and admit "okay, that one got me". The movie does pull a few of the expected gags such as Billy spouting offensive generalizations to adults and Irving showing off his aged appendages. I don't even have to explain what transpires when they crash a wedding with a clear view of the cake and stacked glasses. However, more often than not, I was chuckling. What really helped is that the skits rarely outstay their welcome. The joke is setup, it plays out, Irving makes a few funny remarks and we're on to the next segment. That formula works especially well considering the film does feature bodily functions and doesn't play it out to a point where you're burying your head in disgust.
Sure, at this point Jackass seems rather tame compared to the likes of Nitro Circus or Borat. But, you know, maybe tame is exactly what this little genre of humor needs. Ever since Jackass first awed the teenage crowd of MTV in 2000, there have been several imitators that try way too hard for a laugh. One of the worst has been The Amazing Racist, an over-the-top offender of early viral video that somehow landed him a segment in 2013's worst film, InAPPropriate Comedy. Bad Grandpa is a friendly reminder of how Jackass made this form of comedy not only funny, but an enjoyable prank for all involved. The end credit sequence in particular lets the unsuspecting spectators in on the joke and all of them seem to go along with glee at the fact that they were duped. My reaction was quite similar as Knoxville's antics have made me smile yet again.
The 1080p transfer varies in quality given the various cameras for the public shoots that seem to include security and hidden cams. The parts that do seem to be shot from afar or in staged areas with high-quality cameras do appear very vibrant and clear. The 5.1 DTS Master audio sounds quite clear which is surprising for a film with so many candid shots (even though most of them seem very well prepped for the best video and audio).
The bonus features include a wealth of behind the scenes featurettes for just about every big piece of the film. Everything from the setup to the aftermath with signing the releases is presented in great detail, as well as some additional scenes such as Billy actually winning the beauty contest. Some alternative and deleted scenes are included as well for a few extra laughs.
Bad Grandpa still manages to pull off an amusing prank movie, despite the age of the Jackass team. Their bits are funny enough, ingeniously elaborate and fantastically edited. There may be others attempting to break in on this racket in the future, but I think the bar has been set fairly high with this latest outing from Johnny Knoxville and company. I wouldn't quite say this is something you need to rush out and see right away, but it's still an amusing feature and I can almost guarantee you'll get one or two good laughs out of Bad Grandpa.