Johnny Knoxville is back with his Jackass compadres, but this time the collection of skits of situational, bodily, slap-stick and physical humour is loosely cobbled together with an overarching story line. The second defining difference is that instead of simply being himself, going out and performing a number of unrelated physical stunts, Johnny takes on the character of 86-year-old Irving Zisman, the Bad Grandpa of the title, and actually does a good job of fleshing out a boozing, womanising old geezer. I'm not sure why Knoxville has decided to expand his career in this direction: perhaps his body is no longer able to recover from the physical punishment of the Jackass stunts, so he's been forced to find a new shtick; or maybe he simply wants to expand his horizons. Regardless of the reasons, this change of direction is an interesting one, and I hope will not be an isolated example.
Bad Grandpa in a shopping cart
With the death of his wife, Ellie (Catherine Keener), Irving is set to begin the next chapter of his life. This expectation is railroaded when his daughter, Kimmie (Georgina Gates), shows up with her 8-year-old son Billy (Jackson Nicoll), and requests he transport Billy to live with his deadbeat father Chuck (Greg Harris), as she is soon to go to jail for violating her parole. Irving reluctantly agrees, and the road trip from Nebraska to North Carolina begins. Bad Grandpa is another `hidden camera' comedy (think Borat and Bruno), and is well and truly pitched at the target audience of adolescent and young adult males. Many of the laughs are provided as much by the unscripted reactions of the unwitting public, to the mayhem orchestrated by the actors, as to the situations themselves, and some of the skits go on for too long, as the film makers attempt to wring every drop of comedy from the situations, and several times they are cut unexpectedly, because there is simply no where else for them to go! Another weakness is that the story is entirely predictable, although it is not without its poignant moments, without labouring the emotional point.
You just know this ain't gonna end well!
For all of its faults, there are some genuinely amusing, laugh-out-loud moments, which make the price of admission worth it (the lampooning of the child beauty pageant circuit is priceless). However, I wouldn't pay full price- better to wait for a cheap day or movie club session, or even hold out for the DVD rental release, where I'm sure there will be plenty of out-takes to provide further amusement, on top of the ones provided during the credits.