Strap on your prosthetic nose and head to a place where people’s generosity is only exceeded by their waistlines – the southern United States. Johnny Knoxville reprises his role as Irving Zisman, the dirty old man from his Jackass years, to supply 90 minutes of perverted and outlandish acts caught on tape with unsuspecting victims.
In correlation with Borat (2006), Bad Grandpa tries to establish a believable storyline that begins with a road trip through the South after the ‘protagonist’s’ wife dies. At his wife’s funeral, Irving’s daughter dumps his eight-year-old grandson, Billy, under his supervision. Set on getting laid, Irving is more than agitated by having this youthful cock-block ruining his freedom. So Irving devises a plan to dump the kid with Billy’s indigent father.
As the two prank their way from state to state, the comedic pairing does instigate some pretty hysterical laughs, but the majority of the film seems like the scenarios are too manufactured or simply just to shock the audience. Case in point being one scene involving a farting contest where one contestant pushes a little too hard. The film also has some genuinely nice moments towards the end when the two reconcile and incorporates an anti-child abuse motorcycle gang into their plan.
Johnny Knoxville has always been the only one within the Jackass family that had any real talent. In addition to having a high tolerance for pain (while also possibly being sober), he has the wit to think on his toes. All of the best moments in the previous movies were Knoxville performing a prank and then knowing how to take it to the next level (see this film as an example). The same goes for Bad Grandpa.
As the grandson, Jackson Nicoll also shows off his budding prank abilities. While it is clear at the beginning of the movie that the kid has an earpiece from which he is fed lines from an adult, he deserves credit for execution. Lines are delivered without hesitation or character break.
Of course, Bad Grandpa is not the film you’d attend with, say, your own grandpa. But, if your grandpa were Zisman, Christmas dinner would be a hell of a lot more entertaining.