03rd Mar2014

‘Bad Grandpa’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Greg Harris, Georgina Cates, Kamber Hejlik, Jill Kill, Spike Jonze, Catherine Keener | Written by Jeff Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville | Directed by Jeff Tremaine


If there is anything surprising about Jackass it’s that there is still life in the formula and Johnny Knoxville is still a part of it.  The fact is though Bad Grandpa shows that the concept that actually still work and can evolve into something a little more substantial.  Basing the stunts around two characters and sticking to a storyline may sound like a risky move, but surprisingly it works.

The story basic as it is sees Johnny Knoxville play the part of Irving Zisman who when his wife dies thinks he’s finally got his freedom and can do what he wants.  When his daughter ends up in prison though he soon finds himself stuck with his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) who he has to take on a road trip to the boy’s father.

The road trip is of course the set up for the two characters to take part in a number of stunts where the public are the victims.  These range from the hilarious “women’s night” strip club scene and the beauty pageant scene to some scenes that just feel slightly uncomfortable, like the Guardians of Children biker bar scene where the manipulation feels slightly too far.  With the Guardians of Children scene though I do feel that the Jackass crew may have realised that fact, so showing the behind the scenes footage in the credits does a lot to relieve any unease over the scenes, and shows what a good group of people they are.

When it comes to the relationship between the Zisman character and Billy, this is a fairly typical storyline where Zisman may be a total ass, but he’s not heartless and surprisingly this becomes a touching story.  I’ll admit that in the first half of the film this is not so clear and I did question the decision to make Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa a more story driven piece, but in the second half you see the bond growing between the two and it actually grows into more of a sweet story in between all the chaos.

Johnny Knoxville plays the part of Zisman with ease, he’s played the old man character in Jackass that much he knows what to expect and the way he winds up members of the public creates plenty to laugh at, look for the penguin scene for an example of this.  You can tell in that scene that Knoxville is loving goading the man he argues with, and Jackson Nicoll watches from the sidelines with a smile on his face showing he’s loving every minute.

When it comes to Jackson Nicoll this boy steals the show.  His ability to stay in character during stunts that sometimes get quite worrying shows that he’s brave and trusts Johnny Knoxville and the team behind the cameras to know what they are doing.  It must take some guts to do some of the stuff he does and in many ways he outdoes Knoxville in these roles, an example of this being the pageant scene which, even though we’ve seen it in the trailers as I mentioned before is even funnier in its fully form.

It’s fair to say that Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa won’t be for everybody, there are many people who just don’t like Jackass and never will.  For fans of the show it’s a nice surprise to see that a story driven film can work within the Jackass model and the character of Zisman never actually grows old.  With plenty of stunts to keep you laughing and a gutsy performance from Jackson Nicoll it’ll be interesting to see where else they can take Jackass.  I’m not sure they can do a Bad Grandpa 2, but who knows?

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is out on DVD and Blu-ray.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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