MOVIE REVIEW: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA-- ZERO STARS
The last time I crossed paths with the MTV Jackass franchise was three years ago with Jackass 3D, where I went into a nice and lengthy anecdote about how people love the extremes of gross-out pain or gross-out comedy. Like a train wreck, we can't look away. In the digital age of YouTube, Instagram, and Vine, the sight gag and win/fail videos can be done and created by anyone with a camera or smartphone. The documentation of these things "go viral" every single day, thanks to the inspiration from things like Jackass. Jackass 3D was this fledgling franchise's biggest box office hit. It has enabled director Jeff Tremaine, star Johnny Knoxville, and company to dive into a few tangent ventures like Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. While all of these movies have been completely plot-less and move expeditiously from stunt to stunt, Bad Grandpa actually attempts to outline some semblance of a narrative around its pranks. Plenty of things want to be funny, but Bad Grandpa bites off more than its dentures can chew this time around.
Johnny Knoxville stars under old age makeup as his recurring Irving Zisman character, which he's used before in pulling the wool over the eyes of susceptible suckers on previous movies and shows. He's the central figure of the old man saddled with carrying for his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll of Fun Size and The Fighter) to deliver him cross-country to his deadbeat dad (Zia Harris) after his crackhead daughter (Georgina Cates) gets sent to prison. While on the road, he keeps his deceased wife Gloria (film director Spike Jonze, also in old age makeup) in the trunk of his car looking for the right bridge to throw her body off of.
Rather than winking at the camera each and every step of the way to break the fourth wall, Bad Grandpa wants to look like legit road movie. Where the other Jackass episodes frame their pranks with footage of the set-up and the after-effects, letting the audience in on the jokes and the work to pull them off, the filmmakers of Bad Grandpa try to present this adventure as something this is really happening or plausible to happen over something that is rehearsed and planned. I think that change of perspective and joke delivery hurts this movie from an entertainment standpoint completely. It just doesn't work at all.
I think half the fun of Jackass was seeing the preparation and anticipation before the payoff, while the other half came in seeing a gag's successful execution. We're robbed of that quite a bit in Bad Grandpa. This film isolates all of this into just reaction observation of the real folks not in on the joke. While clever and fun for some of its wrongness, it just doesn't have the same effect. The audience outtakes during the credits where the filmmakers pull back the curtain and reveal some of behind-the-scenes work are not enough.
Unlike the usual Jackass efforts, the laugh-out-loud moments never come and even the few giggles are kind of tame in comparison to what we expect from these guys. Normally, we're guaranteed to have our jaw drop or eyes bug out once from at least one "whoa" or "wow" stunt. Bad Grandpa never gets that far. What does show up are far too many "SMH" moments of "what" and "why" for things that either dumb or unfunny. That said, these movies always have plenty of lessons and warnings of what not to do. That's the only fun part, but still doesn't merit a star.
LESSON #1: KIDS SAY THE DARNEDEST THINGS-- They are the ultimate unfiltered and innocent opinion. They cut it to you straight and rarely think before they speak.
LESSON #2: OLD PEOPLE SAY EVEN WORSE THINGS-- See Lesson #1.
LESSON #3: PEOPLE WILL BELIEVE MOST THINGS CHILDREN SAY-- Match this with Lesson #1 for how gullible people are.
LESSON #4: PEOPLE WILL BELIEVE MOST THINGS OLD PEOPLE SAY TOO-- Match this with Lesson #2 for how gullible people are.
LESSON #5: KIDS CAN BE A C--K BLOCK FOR AN OLD MAN ON THE PROWL-- Kids are annoying distractions and talk too much when a man is trying to court a woman affectionately.
LESSON #6: AT THE SAME TIME, KIDS CAN ALSO HELP ATTRACT A LADY'S ATTENTION-- However, in the other scenario, kids are total chick magnets. Ladies just love a man with a cute kid.
LESSON #7: DON'T CUSS IN FRONT OF CHILDREN IF YOU DON'T WANT THEM PICKING UP ON IT-- Watch what you say. Those darn kids are sponges, especially when they are eight and impressionable.
LESSON #8: DON'T PUT THE MALE GENITALIA IN PLACES IT DOESN'T FIT OR BELONG-- This lesson includes vaginas, zippers, ill-fitting underwear, or soda machines. Yes, even soda machines.
LESSON #9: HUMAN SKIN BEGINS TO LOOSEN AND SAG WITH OLD AGE AND DOES SO IN ALL PLACES-- Yes, all places. Use your imagination.
LESSON #10: YOU CAN'T SHIP A HUMAN BY PACKAGE MAIL UNLESS YOU GIVE IT A BLANKET OR POKE SOME HOLES IN THE BOX-- The mantra of "if it fits, it ships" does not apply entirely.
LESSON #11: BINGO CARD INK IS APPARENTLY EDIBLE-- I bet it's low in trans fat too. That's why old ladies stay so skinny.
LESSON #12: A SHOPPING CART IS AN EFFECTIVE WAY FOR A CHILD TO TRANSPORT A DRUNK ADULT-- The storage space, weight-bearing capability, and wheeled operation is perfect. It's a genius combination of simple machines. That's science class in action, folks.
LESSON #13: A LOAF OF BREAD UNCANNILY RESEMBLES OLD PEOPLE "FRONT BUTT" WHEN STUFFED IN THE FRONT OF ONE'S PANTS-- Be sure to squeeze it for softness and check the date.
LESSON #14: "JIZZY GILLESPIE" WOULD BE A PERFECT ADULT NICKNAME FOR THE 1940'S-- Just say it out loud to yourself. It's got a ring to it.
LESSON #15: WOMEN CAN BE "WORKED UP" BY MALE STRIPPERS BEFORE A REAL MAN SWOOPS IN FOR THE PICKUP-- It's a battlefield tactic that clearly has been tested before. Male revue strip clubs are clearly an untapped market for picking up chicks.
LESSON #16: "CINNAMON" IS THE MOST COMPLEMENTARY AND IDEAL NAME FOR A FEMALE EXOTIC DANCER-- It sounds sweet, beautiful, spicy, and exotic, all at the same time, just like the flavorful and aromatic bark itself.
LESSON #17: HUMAN FLATULENCE WILL ALWAYS BE FUNNY, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES FROM AN ELDERLY PERSON OR A CHILD-- Both demographics however may or may not have the proclivity to "shart" themselves if too much effort is used to fart.
LESSON #18: OLD PEOPLE AND CHILDREN CAN TALK THEMSELVES OUT OF PAYING FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE-- Go back to Lessons #1-4.
LESSON #19: STATISTICS SHOW THAT ONE'S GRANDFATHER IS LIKELY TO BE THE FIRST PERSON TO GIVE A BOY HIS FIRST BEER-- It's usually introduced with "Try this, son" and followed with "be a man" after it doesn't taste good. Lesson learned.
LESSON #20: OLD MEN HAVE AN ENDLESS ARRAY OF NICKNAMES FOR FEMALE GENITALIA-- "Poontang" is only the tip of the iceberg.
LESSON #21: CHILD OBESITY IS A LEGITIMATE SOCIETAL PROBLEM-- Slow down on the snacks and chicken wings, little man.
LESSON #22: ...AND SO ARE CHILD BEAUTY PAGEANTS-- While the movie might discuss you with its gags, you have to admit that they child's beauty pageant that they target is just as much of a societal problem. Sure, it's not good to teach kids drinking and swearing, but do this competitions really teach anything much better?
LESSON #23: POLE-DANCING AND STRIPPING TAKES AS MUCH TALENT AS ANY OTHER BEAUTY PAGEANT SKILL WHEN YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT IT-- There's a technique, artistry, and physicality that just as strenuous, practiced, and complex as any ballet or aerobic routine.
LESSON #24: QUALITY TIME SPENT WITH ONE'S ELDERS IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT AND MEMORABLE-- Awwwwwwww....
LESSON #25: JACKASS FILMS DO NOT COUNT AS QUALITY TIME-- Not so fast, Mr. Parent-of-the-Year. Give them real jokes and laughter. Tell them stories, Take them fishing. Get outside. Don't sit them in front of movies like this with manufactured dumb sight gags.