‘Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa’ Review

Published 1 year ago by , Updated November 9th, 2014 at 6:23 pm,

Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa Johnny Knoxville 570x294 Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa Review

Bad Grandpa successfully freshens the Jackass format and will, without question, keep fans of the series laughing (and cringing) the entire time.

In Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Johnny Knoxville returns to his hidden camera comedy hijinks – this time dressed as 86-year old grandpa, Irving Zisma. Following the death of his wife Ellie (modeled after Catherine Keener), Irving sets out on a two-fold mission: 1) get laid and 2) deliver his 8-year old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) to his father across the country – after the boy’s mother Kimmy (Georgina Cates) is forced to serve jail time.

In traditional Jackass brand fashion, the cross-country trip puts the unlikely pair in a series of awkward (and over-the-top) situations as Irving, a self-absorbed, reckless, and horny senior, attempts to honor Ellie’s memory, balance his newfound freedom as an eligible bachelor, and successfully care for Billy until he can dump him off in North Carolina. However, as the oddball pair journeys across the USA, hitting on women, offending strangers, and wreaking havoc on local store owners, Irving begins to ponder whether or not he should actually hand Billy over to his deadbeat dad.

Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa Johnny Knoxville Jackson Nicholl 570x294 Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa Review

Johnny Knoxville and Jackson Nicholl in ‘Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa’

Unlike prior Jackass films, Bad Grandpa is peppered with a scripted storyline that tethers all of the hidden comedy beats (and penis jokes) together. Yet, the main draw of the film is still the outrageous improvised interactions with regular people on the street – unaware of Knoxville and director Jeff Tremaine’s elaborate pranks. For this reason, moviegoers may be mixed on whether or not the straightforward narrative actually enhances or hinders the success of the film. Some viewers will likely find the story (which is pretty soulless and very predictable) to be a waste of runtime with no substance, wishing that more (of the far superior) hidden camera moments were included instead. Others will appreciate the added effort from Tremaine and Knoxville, who present a film that does slightly more than the Jackass standard – which jumped from one scandalous moment to the next.

Regardless of how filmgoers respond to the scripted bridge scenes, Bad Grandpa is still a Jackass movie in nearly every way imaginable – meaning that the film will, without question, satisfy fans of Jackass: The Movie, Jackass Number Two, and Jackass 3-D. Nevertheless, the narrative material is not enough to draw-in viewers who did not enjoy prior entries in the series. As mentioned, Bad Grandpa‘s barebones storyline only adds surface level plot – without taking time to earn any of its attempts at (tongue-in-cheek) emotion.

While the relationship between Irving and Billy is little more than a formula for laughs, the characters succeed in moving the comedy formula away from staged Jackass pranks to more nuanced situations – raised by a pair of likable leading men. Awkward moments, dangerous stunts, and gross-out gags are still the priority, but certain trailers sought to present the film as a somewhat traditional character story (in the interest of pulling-in a wider viewership) and certain audience members who were expecting a more balanced mix between scripted drama and improv could feel slightly cheated by the final Bad Grandpa film.

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Jackson Nicholl as Billy and Johnny Knoxville as Irving

Despite the reality that some jokes work better than others, Knoxville (with a team of Jackass alums producing) is in top-improv form as Irving. Aside from the obvious necessity of hiding the actor’s now-familiar face from the public, his geriatric routine presents plenty of room for unique hidden camera jokes. Between staged prop sequences and entirely improvised interactions with random strangers on the street, Knoxville is sharp and brash – once again putting his body in harms way for the sake of making filmgoers laugh. Some ideas get repetitive over time, especially those involving Irving’s clumsy quest for sexual gratification, but even when Knoxville is retreading familiar ground, the reactions from his unknowing victims are still priceless.

Easily the most remarkable aspect of Bad Grandpa is the inclusion of 9-year old Jackson Nicoll (Fun Size) who absolutely nails his improv and dramatic scenes – especially considering the outright crazy things that Knoxville and Tremaine asked of the young actor. Nicoll delivers in scripted moments but his interactions with concerned adults on the street provide solid payoff – oftentimes stealing the spotlight from Knoxville. It’s hard to imagine anyone, much less a pre-teen kid, being able to keep a straight face while shooting Bad Grandpa but Nicoll never shows signs of cracking – providing a hilarious new twist on otherwise straightforward Jackass comedy beats.

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A helpless hidden camera victim in ‘Bad Grandpa’

Of course, the supporting “cast” of victims left in the wake of Knoxville and Nicoll impart some of the biggest laughs. As Jackass and other hidden camera features have taught us, it’s impossible to predict how everyday people will react to extraordinary situations. Whether capturing anger, shock, incompetence, fear, compassion, determination, aggression, or relief, among countless others, the Jackass brand still reveals interesting (and flat out riotous) insight into modern culture – as people respond to Irving and Billy’s shenanigans.

Longterm fans of the Jackass franchise will find plenty to like in Bad Grandpa. The film successfully freshens up the format and elevates the hidden camera comedy series away from mindless stunts and eye-rolling gags to a series of diverse and laugh-out-loud setups carried out by a fun set of protagonists. That said, viewers who were hoping for a full-on overhaul of the formula with a heavy emphasis on the overarching Bad Grandpa story might be underwhelmed by the narrative through lines – which possess little substance and are nothing more than filler to keep the movie flowing from one improv scene to the next. Whether or not the story is a boon or a bane, Bad Grandpa successfully freshens the Jackass format and will, without question, keep fans of the series laughing (and cringing) the entire time.

If you’re still on the fence about Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, check out the trailer below:

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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa runs 92 minutes and is Rated R for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use. Now playing in theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check back soon for our Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. Good review.

    I’m looking forward to seeing this in the cinema at some point, with a large crowd of my mates.

  2. this is a straight to VHS type of movie.

    • VHS? You haven’t been out of the house for a while huh?

  3. Seriously? This gets more stars than Escape Plan? That movie was entertaining for what it was, this looks just as retarded, stupid, and should-have-come-out-on-tv like Jackass… People will really spend $10 to go to a theater to watch people be stupid?? Great.

    • Ken J –

      You should know by now that we rate movies based on whether they deliver on their intended purpose – and this is a “Good” hidden camera comedy. The review is pretty clear that if you don’t like Jackass in the first place, this movie isn’t for you.

  4. I won’t be seeing this in the theater but will rent it the say it’s available.
    Jackass the TV series and movies that have followed just make me laugh plain and simple. I know it’s lowest common denominator comedy, I know it’s mostly d**k joke after d**k joke but sometimes funny is just funny and for me Jackass has always been funny.

    • @Kevin

      Well, it makes more sense as a rental or something you watch on TV. I just don’t really understand paying $10 to go to a theater with a giant screen and surround sound for something that needs neither…

      • @ Ken J

        I half agree with you.
        If my financials were different I would see this in the theater. Sometimes seeing a movie like this with an audience enhances the experience and I remember seeing the first Jackass in the theater and it was a blast.
        There are movies though when (IMO anyway) there’s really no added benefit of seeing it in the theater. An example would be Carrie. Sure it would be nice to see it in the theater but I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy it just as much at home, with the lights out on a Friday night.

        • @Kevin7

          I’m kind of the opposite. I really don’t care if other people are laughing or not, so that doesn’t affect me. For me, comedies I would rather save my money and watch at home, while action movies I want to see in theaters since they make full use of the big screen and the sound system. That’s pretty much the only criteria I go by. HOWEVER, I do agree that sometimes theater experience does add to a movie, but for me, it’s still with action movies. Like for example, while watching The A-Team (love that freakin’ movie) in theaters, that scene when they were “flying” the tank, the audience was actually going kind of crazy. It was one of those actions scenes that was so unbelievable, but so unbelievably cool at the same time that some people were literally standing up to watch it because they couldn’t stay in their seat. It was really odd to see actually, but I kind of understand, it was a pretty crazy thing to watch, lol. And another memory I have of a cool theater experience was in Terminator 2. Yes, 1991, lol, I know, I’m old, but in the scene after Arnold’s T-800 is stabbed and is “disabled” and a few scenes later, you see his eye start to glow a little, and he gets power from his backup power source, he pulls the metal stick out and throws it down, the audience literally all started applauding and cheering. It was a pretty surreal moment, and it’s one of the reasons why I think Terminator 2 is such a great movie, it brings out a lot of emotions watching it, you connect with the characters like no other movie I think…

          But anyway, I guess for me, I’m more of an action movie kind of guy, so it’s just what I’d rather pay money for, but I know if comedy is your thing, then this would be worth it, I just don’t personally really “get” it… :-)

          • @ Ken J

            Don’t feel bad, I’m also one of the older Ranters. :)
            I also saw Terminator 2 in the theater and it’s among the handful of movies that turned me into the movie geek I am today.
            While I disagree with you to an extent about seeing comedies in the theater I completely agree about action flicks or Sci-Fi or Fantasy.
            A great example for me would be Avatar. I wanted to see it in the theater but for reasons I can’t remember I didn’t so when I finally saw it on Blu-ray my opinion was that it was just OK but I can easily assume that if I saw it in 3D IMAX my opinion would be different.
            It also works in the opposite way for me sometimes. When I saw Inception in the theater I was blown away. The score alone was so great that I went back to see it again but when it hit Blu-ray and I watched it at home I didn’t like it as much and because of that it went from one of my top 3 favorite Nolan films to at the bottom just above TDKR.
            I’m not sure if I’m making any sense but I think you’ll get my point. If not at least you now know that you’re not the only old-timer commenting here. ;)

            • *old man high five* lol

              • it’s simply amazing how both of you
                converse.. I wish there are more
                people like you in the internet instead
                of those stubborn-hot headed-never
                been wrong-capslock warrior..

                @kevin7 & @ken J, you got my
                respect sir..
                @Ben Kendrick, I’m sorry for being
                OOT, I have to comment on this.

  5. Wholey Fornication, Bad-Man!!!

  6. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

    The ‘Cherry Pie’ bit and then the peeling off of the $1′s… classic!

  7. it’s simply amazing how both of you converse.. I wish there are more people like you in the internet instead of those stubborn-hot headed-never been wrong-capslock warrior..

    @kevin7 & @ken J, you got my respect sir..
    @Ben Kendrick, I’m sorry for being OOT, I have to comment on this.

    • dear admin, please delete this comment, I replied on the wrong place, thank you