Scrapping the erratic Jackass formula that’s been highly successful for over a decade, Bad Grandpa settles for a linear plot focused on one of their more detestable characters – and it works. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is in theaters October 25, 2013. Rated R for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use.
Grandpa Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville), is a man breathing new life….following a grim revelation involving his wife. Irving’s junkie daughter leaves him with his grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll), and the task of delivering the kid to his deadbeat father. A hilarious road trip ensues.
Bad Grandpa‘s simplistic storyline isn’t going to win any originality awards this year, but that’s not really its purpose. What has always been detrimental to the Jackass franchise is the lack of theme. Its just a hodgepodge mash-up of gross-out humor and stunts. Bad Grandpa still has all those things, but the inclusion of a cohesive narrative works wonders in maintaining an attentive audience. The new recipe just works. With that said, I don’t see any other Jackass “character” carrying a film and succeeding at Knoxville’s level. Johnny’s charisma was always a highlight of the series, propelling him into a worthwhile and enchanting acting career. However, nine-year-old Jackson Nicoll, whom Knoxville worked with in 2012’s Fun Size, pulls the comedic rug from under Grandpa. Billy’s deadpan criticisms to Irving’s antics elicits priceless reactions from the real-world folks witnessing the unfolding pranks. From male strippers to child beauty pageant moms, no one is safe in Bad Grandpa‘s universe.
While delivering on its promise to keel audiences over in laughter, I’m not convinced the Jackass films (including this new formula) belong on the silver screen. When you strip it down to its bones, Bad Grandpa is still just a hidden camera show. You as a viewer must determine if that premise is worth the price of admission.