Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll
Directed by: Jeff Tremaine
Written By: Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 32 min
The basic plot for the movie Bad Grandpa has Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) transporting his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) across the US to be with his deadbeat father Chuck (Greg Harris). But that’s all this film needed as the anchor for a series of lowbrow Candid Camera style pranks and stunts. Some of which I found hilarious, and others not so much. Other moments I found offensive.
That’s the nature of this kind of comedy though. It consistently walks that line between funny and crude, and each person watching this is likely to respond differently to different sections of the film. Thankfully each prank doesn’t last very long so if you’re not enjoying one idea, you won’t have long to wait for another to come along. I personally found the scenes that harmlessly played with the unsuspecting crowd hilarious. Unfortunately there are also plenty of others that took advantage of the general public’s good will, and I found those offensive and uncomfortable to watch.
If you love prank comedy and/or the Jackass series of movies, you’re probably going to like this too. It all depends on your personal taste and where you draw the line between funny and offensive. Prank comedy for me is great when it’s just recording people’s reactions to a crazy staged event. When it takes advantage of the general public’s good will, then it becomes uncomfortable to watch and annoying.
Best viewing format:
Most of this looks like it was shot with an old camcorder so a regular DVD or streaming show at home with friends will work. There are some really funny moments though, so a late weekend theater showing with a crowd could also be a lot of fun.
Funniest scenes for me: << spoilers >>
The scene near the end of the film where Billy and Grandpa Zisman crash a kids beauty pageant, and do a little reenactment of a scene from Little Miss Sunshine is hysterical. There’s an hilarious strip club scene during the film too.
Worst scene for me: << spoilers >>
The bar scene where Billy is handed over to his deadbeat dad ,Chuck. Chuck is less than kind to Billy while surrounded by a biker gang wearing G.O.C. Gear (Guardians of the Children) – an actual organization that looks out for abused children. I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to watch decent people like that being taken advantage off. Even if (I hope) a few of them were in on the joke.