After Jackass 3D, one thing was clear, the Jackass crew had gotten old. Not in the sense that audiences had grown tired of them (on the contrary, Jackass 3D outgrossed the previous films in the series by about $90 worldwide), no instead time had taken its toll on Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Wee Man and the rest. Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa seems to be a reaction to the harsh realities of time. Irving Zissman (Knoxville) is a horny old man who is charged with the responsibility of transporting his young grandson Billy (Nicoll) across the country so he can go live with his father. The two get into various hi-jinks on the road.
This is quite easily the worst of the Jackass movies. Not because it’s so disgusting or so immature (those are perhaps its best qualities), it’s because it just doesn’t offer its audience much. The film plays out in the same style as Borat or Bruno, with Irving and Billy causing havoc whilst real life onlookers look shocked. Occasionally this works to great effect (Billy asking random people if they would be his new family, Irving shoplifting, the two of them farting in a diner) but sometimes the set up gets quite a subdued reaction (one would think to post office workers would find the idea of a man trying to ship a boy to be more outrageous than it plays out in this movie), perhaps in a post Borat world, people just aren’t that shocked by what they see on the street.
The film has three credited screenwriters; Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jonze (yes, that Spike Jonze) and perhaps the choice to include a screenplay was a bad choice. The scenes between Irving and Billy often feel forced and they really stretch out the period between laughs, the heartwarming moments don’t really fit and (sorry to bring this one up again) it is missing that social satire that Borat had. However that’s not to say that Knoxville and Nicoll don’t bring their A-game, Knoxville is the same loveable rogue he’s always been whilst Nicoll (who easily stole the show in last years disappointing teen romp Fun Size) is a true gem and a welcome junior addition to the Jackass crew. The film has been given a 15 certificate, a clear indication that the stunts have a lower risk factor, though surprisingly, that doesn’t affect the movie too much.
Is the film the greatest thing around? No. Is it funny? Yes, very much so. When Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa hits, it hits hard. The funniest sketches are probably some of the funniest moments on film this year, it is sad that the film is not constant in its hilarity. Like the previous films in the series, see this film in a crowded cinema and you’ll have a good time, just don’t expect any classic moments. Also, this film includes one of the best cameos from an indie starlet ever and is worth seeing just for her performance (won’t say who though).