Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) finds himself saddled with his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll), after his daughter is taken into prison. It’s up to Irving to take Billy cross country to live with his father, but on the road, he discovers he has more in common with the kid than he thought.
For anyone who may have been fooled by the make up effects and title of Bad Grandpa, wonder no longer. This is a movie presented by Jackass and, as such, the plot does not actually matter a great deal. Knoxville and Nicoll travel through the US in costume and character, grossing out unsuspecting strangers as they go. Knoxville is launched through a shop window, ‘poops’ on a wall and runs through a strip club on Ladies Night… In his underwear.
As mentioned, the plot does not matter in Bad Grandpa, which is a good job, seeing as the story is paper thin, and is really just a set up for the gags. The gags are puerile; fans of Jackass will rejoice, but anyone who has moved past the fart joke stage of their lives will probably be less impressed. For the record, I am a Jackass fan and I laughed. A lot.
Knoxville’s lack of shame is admirable. There seems to be nothing that he shied away from while making the film – understandable, since the relationship he formed with Jackson Nicoll on Fun Size was the inspiration for the film – and while this commitment to his ‘craft’ is commendable, the fact that he is Johnny Knoxville and had to be protected from random members of the public attacking him for his antics. This means that almost every scene in the film ends without resolution, because the public obviously had to be told what was going on, in order to get them to see the funny side. This leads to a lot of jokes and very little pay off, until the end credits.
Bad Grandpa is a film full of silliness, and risk; some of which pays off. If you are a fan of Jackass, Johnny Knoxville or gross out humour, there is plenty to laugh at here – and one incredibly sweet scene that features a protective biker gang – but if your comedy taste is more sophisticated, or you have never heard of Jackass, then you may be as well to steer clear. This, however, is Knoxville at his best and Jackass fans should rejoice at the return of Irving Zisman. It’s just a shame that we never see why Spike Jonze was in old lady makeup. Oh, and a lot of the best gags are in the trailer. Sigh.