Bad Grandpa

Posted: November 16, 2013 in Film
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Bad Grandpa is not a good movie.

I’m not yet sure if I would consider it a bad movie either, which at least leaves a little glimmer of hope. Using hidden cameras and elaborate setups, Bad Grandpa is a fairly big budget movie (an estimated $15 million) filmed in a guerrilla-esque style that’s loosely tied together with a flimsy premise.

If you are not familiar with the Jackass movies, then congratulations and continue to live in your impenetrable bubble. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa stars Johnny Knoxville as 86-year-old Irving Zisman who is taking his grandson Billy (played by Jackson Nicoll) back home to be with his father because his mother is going to prison. That’s already far too much story than you need to know for this type of movie.

Bad Grandpa severely limits itself by trying to bookend the truly funny hidden camera public pranks with painfully boring, bland scripted scenes, which are far too forced and distracting to be enjoyable. Shoehorning the story into Bad Grandpa was not only unnecessary, but it’s also a sign that the filmmakers were not that confident in the product as a whole. Just putting the actual pranks in an orderly sequence that makes some sense would have probably been more suitable. But then again, that end result would be around an hour or less, which would hardly qualify as a movie.

Creepy Smile

Some have compared Bad Grandpa to Borat, the biggest difference is that there was actually humor in the story infused into Borat. No such entertainment value exists in the actual script of Bad Grandpa. The first 20 minutes of Bad Grandpa is brutal. Laughs only started once Johnny Knoxville (it’s useless to try to refer to him as Irving) attempted to ship the kid in a box back home. As you would expect, the gags are hit-or-miss, but the humor primarily resides in how Knoxville handles the victims rather than the actual prank.

If there’s one scene that will linger on and perhaps live in perpetuity, it is the male strip club sequence. It would have been a full-on mandingo party if there was just one white woman around. But Knoxville was the only white soul in the room, which is a sign that the club probably wasn’t in a great part of town.

While whores were vigorously dry humped on the floor, Knoxville was gaining liquid courage to go through with this ballsy gag. What unfolds is truly disturbing. Luckily, men who are wearing nothing but a cock sock generally aren’t that enthusiastic to throw down and start fighting when an old man starts to get too close.

Although Johnny Knoxville drives most of the genuinely funny moments, the real star of Bad Grandpa is the kid, Jackson Nicoll. I assume they provided him with an earpiece in order to feed him responses. If not, the kid deserves immense kudos for keeping everything together—but I believe in the former rather than the latter. You can tell that Jackson felt more at home and comfortable portraying the scripted scenes (no surprise considering this was his sixth movie role). Good luck finding a more adorable, likable child actor capable of seamlessly pulling off the extra responsibility.


Bad Grandpa can already be called a commercial success since the early box office returns have far surpassed the budget. But that’s hard for me to believe considering this movie is mostly mediocre, and the promotional push leading up to the release basically highlighted everything that was even remotely entertaining. If you’ve seen one preview of this movie, you were just waiting for the Toddlers & Tiaras scene, which doesn’t show up until near the very end.

Maybe I’ll never understand why these movies are so successful. For the most part, I enjoy the mindless entertainment, but this is not deserving of such financial success. Bad Grandpa is the Fig Newton of film. It’s surrounded by too much dry, unnecessary bullshit suffocating what could be something good.

2.5 out of 5 stars


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