The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about Johnny Knoxville’s latest prankfest “Bad Grandpa” in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.
Johnny Knoxville seems to be aiming at the college age frat boy mentality with everything he does, and if the demographics in my theater were any indication, he’s hitting it dead on.
“Jackass presents Bad Grandpa” is the latest gross out prankster endeavor from the minds behind the Jackass movies. This time however, the crew tie the pranks together to form the story of an old man taking his grandson across the country to dump him with a father who only wants him for a paycheck. Johnny Knoxville plays the old man in full makeup running scenes in front of unsuspecting spectators caught on hidden cameras. He’s joined by surprisingly competent child actor Jackson Nicoll who comes along for the trickery and all the fart jokes you could ever hope for and more.
But really we’ve come to expect that from this crew by now, but you know what I didn’t expect? I kind of liked this movie. I think most of it comes down to the format. The best thing about the movie is that it plays like one big episode of Candid Camera. And there is something really fun and funny about watching people genuinely react to these insane scenarios. I used to love old school Candid Camera growing up and this movie scratched that itch even including in the credits, the inevitable reveal of the hidden cameras to those caught on tape. Plus this seems a lot less mean spirited than other films of this kind (I’m looking at you Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Borat), even playing on the heart strings, communicating a message that rang true even as much as the entire premise and set ups were false. You know high brow fake setups, like an old man getting his genitals stuck in a vending machine.
And so we’ve arrived at the part of the review where I get to sound like a prude. Does it really have to be this vile? I get that for many the shock value is part of the humor, but can’t we have like a 5 or 6 on the shock value richter scale rather than going for a 9.4 everytime? I guess for me I’d rather be laughing than cringing during a movie and in many of these scenarios I found myself much more engaged in doing the later. But hey, if Beavis and Butthead are your preferred muses this movie has you covered.
At the end of the day, Bad Grandpa is sophomoric cringingly vile prank on unsuspecting onlookers. Yet somehow the candid camera setup and the surprisingly cohesive story make for an entertaining if not disgusting hour and a half at the movies. I’m going with a shocking B-.
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