Other than the ‘Jackass’ movies, the films that Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is reminiscent of are the Sacha Baren Cohen films Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) and Brüno (2009). In terms of quality, Bad Grandpa is closer to Brüno than Borat though. That’s not to say it’s all bad however; I enjoyed myself a lot more than I was expecting.
Bad Grandpa involves Jackass’s Johnny Knoxville as 86 year-old Irving Zisman, who must take his 8 year-old grandson across country to his real father. A simple enough plot, which is reasonably distracted to make way for the selling point of this film: Knoxville and newcomer Jackson Nicoll catching people off-guard with the crazy stunts they pull.
Johnny Knoxville isn’t that great of an improviser. There are plenty of moments where you notice his voice switch back to normal. His dialogue with other people is often stinted and unnatural. This is okay though, Knoxville is more known for his stunts than his acting, though there are only a few physical stunts throughout the film. Nicoll is pretty average as far as child actors go (meaning not very good), however it should be noted that he keeps his composure remarkably well throughout the movie. He even shines in a few scenes saying outrageous things to adults in a normal, childlike manner.
The old-age makeup is surprisingly good, which is necessary to make this movie work. The hidden camera work is decent enough as well, though there are noticeable moments where reactions are faked because they weren’t captured initially.
Ultimately the weakest parts of the film are the scripted scenes that are served as filler between the public displays. They don’t take too much time, but I found myself wishing they would hurry up these scenes, as many of the scripted jokes fall flat.
As expected, some of the antics are very effective, and others aren’t. This ratio is surprisingly favorable though. I found myself laughing more often than not. There are definite places where the movie could have been cut down, but it never dragged on too long. This movie is best watched with some of your friends, so you can cringe and laugh in the company of others. 6/10.