UK Release Date: 23rd October 2013
Runtime: 92 minutes
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Writer: Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Spike Jonze
Synopsis: With the grandkid he detests in tow, a morally dubious grandfather embarks on a lengthy, debauched journey across America.
The Jackass movies were a lot of fun. With no pretentions of class, or even quality, the boys understood that doing stupid shit whilst swearing at each other was pretty much a fool proof formula for success. They were right. Unfortunately, spin-off Bad Grandpa is an unfunny, boring misfire that should’ve been kept on the small screen.
Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) is 86 year-old and free and single following the death of his wife. At the funeral, Irving’s daughter dumps his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) into his arms and demands he be taken across the country to his father. In an ideal world, hilarity would ensue, but instead there’s a strange hodgepodge of lazy penis gags and sexual harassment.
It’s obvious what the plan was here. Johnny Knoxville has taken a well-loved character from a TV show and put them into constructed situations with “real people” in order to get laughs. But Knoxville is no Sacha Baron Cohen, and Bad Grandpa is no Borat. The “real people” often feel like stooges and it runs out of jokes very early on.
There’s no problem with the performances. Knoxville works with the lacklustre material admirably, although he must shoulder the blame for at least part of the dull script. The true stand-out performance here though is young Jackson Nicoll who displays some great comic ability and looks set to become a star of the future, as long as he’s given material better than Bad Grandpa.
No comedy film should ever be as dull as Bad Grandpa. When the laughs come (as they occasionally do), they feel like brief reprieves from the tedium rather than an organic part of the plot. There’s a lazy, predictable, redemptive story arc stolen from every buddy movie ever and the various comic set pieces feel like standalone sketches rather than parts of a wider whole.
Somewhere lurking within Bad Grandpa is a film worth watching, but there’s a laziness at work here that makes Michael Bay look like an arthouse auteur. Quite simply, this is mindless cinema with no effort expended at all. It might’ve worked for Jackass, but it doesn’t allow for a decent narrative film.
Pop or Poop?
Bad Grandpa is a sporadically funny, but sublimely lazy waste of time for anyone other than Jackass completists.
There are laughs to be had, but they’re few and far between amongst what can only be described as mind-numbing dullness. Bad Grandpa is a film of ideas that don’t even threaten to coalesce into a coherent, interesting comedy film.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.