IMDB/www.imdb.com The Jackass series was born at the beginning of the 21st century and immediately had a cult following. After three theatrical movies, alongside several DVDs released, the Jackass guys are back with Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa to try a different approach to the familiar formula. The end result is a movie that, while entertaining, is not as funny or as heartwarming as the creators would like it to be.
Anyone who has seen anything from Jackass will know what to expect, as there is no shortage of pranks or stunts done to unaware members of the public. Unlike the television show or the previous movies, Bad Grandpa attempts to have an actual story to tie these antics together, as opposed to the usual mash-up of clips. The story is a simple one, Johnny Knoxville plays Irving, an 86 year-old recently widowed man who has to take his grandson, played by Jackson Nicoll, across the states to the boy’s biological father. Along the way, there are consistent pranks involving prosthetic testicles, public embarrassment and awkward situations. Knoxville once again adorns the “old man make-up” that the audience has seen before from previous endeavors and plays up the part, all while trying to make life as uncomfortable as possible for anyone he encounters.
The biggest difference from the pranks seen in Bad Grandpa than in previous Jackass movies is that it lacks the usual sense of danger associated with most of the stunts/pranks. It may be due to the fact that Knoxville is pretending to be a senior citizen, but most of the pranks do not put him into harm’s way. Previous Jackass films had Knoxville putting himself into direct confrontation while playing dumb, whereas in Bad Grandpa, most of the situations involve uncomfortable dialogue. When a prank is pulled, people generally act surprised without much of a follow through. This also may be a sign of the times, as people may be becoming more passive or understanding when dealing with people who are causing a scene.
When Knoxville and Nicoll are not harassing people, there are scenes of the two bonding along the way to their destination. Anyone who has seen any road trip movie knows what to expect: the two characters do not get along, they bond slowly over time and then eventually realize that they are inseparable. While it may seem silly to expect anything substantial from the Jackass crew, the fact that there are three names attached to the screenplay and five for the story allowed it to have enough minds behind it to make the story more substantial. There is the attempt to inject a little heart into the story, but it does not come off as genuine as the writers were hoping it would.
In the end, viewers of Bad Grandpa will already know if they like the film before they watch it. The movie does not depart that far from the Jackass style, so longtime fans already know what they are getting into. While the trailer does give away some of the funniest moments, there are still some genuine gut-busting laughs during some of the scenes. The movie does, however, feel like it is taking the safest route possible, while trying to give the audience a story. The slight injection of heart into the story does give the movie a little bit of a more personal feel, but it almost seems to be tacked on at times. It is not the deepest or most heartfelt story around, but it does keep the movie plugging along at a consistent pace. Those looking for a mindless laugh at the expense of other people will enjoy themselves, but anyone looking for a comedy with substance will be disappointed.