I’m sure we can all remember the first time we saw Johnny Knoxville and the rest of the guys from the “Jackass” group, Ryan Dunn, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius , Jason Acuna, Jeff Termaine and Dave England doing some very stupid, yet wildly entertaining stunts.
After a TV show on MTV and five movies, the “Jackass” crew is at it again. With its newest addition, “Bad Grandpa,” I think it may have aimed a little bit too high.
In the film, Knoxville portrays Irving Zisman, an 86-year-old man who has been given a chance at freedom with the passing of his wife. Hopeful to change some key things in his life before he finds himself dead, he wants to get out and explore the world.
However, when he is unexpectedly greeted by his daughter, he learns that she is about to go to jail and he must take his grandson, Billy, to his deadbeat father in North Carolina.
Extremely hesitant at first, Irving takes Billy on the road and the two of them slowly start to bond through shenanigans.
Knoxville is entertaining in this film. For a film where he is disguised with old man makeup throughout, he does pretty well.
Believe it or not, he is actually more out of control as an old man than as his true younger self. His young sidekick, played by Jackson Nicholl, also does a decent job in the film.
The on-screen relationship between these two is believable. Through all the shenanigans Irving pulls, Billy is right there to help him up off the ground from his failures.
One scene I enjoyed in particular is where Irving comes up with the idea to dress Billy up as a young girl and enter him into a child beauty pageant, where sparks fly. From Billy scantily dancing to “Cherry Pie” by Warrant, to Irving showering him with dollar bills, the whole scene speaks to the incredible chemistry the actors have on screen.
Where this film fails, I believe, is that at times it tries to make itself into an actual drama, instead of being straight comedy like the previous “Jackass” films.
Given that this film is a bit different, I think audiences would rather appreciate a straight and true “Jackass” film, rather than an attempt at a coming-of-age story. Because of the attempt at drama, the film is held back from other comedic moments that could have been more hysterical.
This is most evident in the film when Irving delivers Billy to his scumbag father at a bar in North Carolina. In this bar is also the local chapter of the biker group, “Guardians of Children,” a group who is particularly fond of protecting abused children. The whole scene is very much dramatized from the discussion of the father’s past and the fact that Billy really wants to stay with his grandfather. As I said before, the film, which screams comedy, really falls hard from this try at a dramatic storyline.
As much of a letdown as it was, though, it was good to see Knoxville and the gang back together on the big screen, especially after the tragic death of their good friend, Dunn, to whom the film was dedicated.
Story by John Gruccio, Contributing writer