My expectations of a movie from Jackass were pretty low. The whole dynamic of the franchise has never really appealed to me. I don’t find this kind of sheer stupidity slightly funny, let alone hilarious. Having said that, I had only ever seen one or two scenes from Jackass beforehand. So maybe my point of view will have changed.
I decided to give Bad Grandpa the benefit of the doubt after watching the trailer – where I laughed out loud – and hearing initial good reviews about the previous sketches created by the two characters: Grandpa, Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) and grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll).
The first scripted scenes between Irving and Billy were repetitive and uncomfortable complete with awkward silences. The image of a tumble weed rolling across the road is a sufficient symbol of the lack of conversation between the two.
Nevertheless, there were some very easy laughs within the scenes of the practical jokes. The less extravagant pranks were the funniest: simply creating drama through dialogue ignited the most laughs in the audience. This was also due to the reactions of the public, which were sometimes more hilarious (by a mile) than the actual joke. You have to remember that the public have no idea about the action being filmed, so it’s genuine shock. You couldn’t fake that disbelief. The conflict between the actors and the public could have gone seriously wrong in a few of the sketches. Johnny Knoxville is lucky that he has all his teeth left.
Crude and disgusting are adjectives that come to mind when viewing some of the crazier antics of Grandpa Irving. Think exploding poo, dangling genitals and child promiscuity. I cringed in my seat during some of those scenes. In all honesty, these scenes made me want to leave.
As the storyline neared the end, the scripted scenes between the two protagonists became more heart-warming and emotional. I hate to say it, but there were some sweet words exchanged between Grandpa and grandson… as sweet as expletives and insults can be between an eighty-six-year-old man and eight-year-old boy. Was there a tear in my eye? No. But you get the picture.
The length of the film was long enough. I couldn’t have sat through it for five minutes longer. It told the simple story and showed a range of hilarious-to-funny-to-not-so-funny-to-horrendous sketches. One thing I will say in a positive light if you will, Knoxville and Nicoll are skilled actors to be able to improvise with the public and not double over with laughter throughout the film.
If you’re a fan of Jackass or want a few easy laughs, then go ahead and see what you think. However, if you’re not and simply want to view it because there’s nothing else on, or want to broaden your comedy horizons, save your money and don’t bother. Instead, watch the trailer as that has the majority of the best laughs.
A word of warning: make sure you’ve eaten a couple of hours in advance.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is out in UK cinemas today, Wednesday October 23rd.