Bad Grandpa – Film Review

Born out of a sketch from Jackass, Bad Grandpa sees Johnny Knoxville resume his role as 86-year-old Irving Zisman in a wonderfully crude adventure of his own.

Reminiscent of Jackass, with its abundance of stunts, Bad Grandpa surprisingly follows a very clear and well maintained chronology that makes for an interesting experiment. Of course, there’s a few actors dotted around to help fulfil some of the pranks, but it’s largely the reactions of unsuspecting audiences that drive the narrative behind the adventures of Irving and his grandson, eight-year-old Billy.

Billy’s mother is facing a prison sentence, and asks Irving to take him to his father in Raleigh, which prompts the cross-country adventure through strip clubs, biker bars, and beauty pageants. Along the way, members of the public are made incredibly uncomfortable, to a level that far exceeds any sort of expectation for an MTV film. I mean, Jackass was a laugh, but it was never smart. Bad Grandpa boasts logic, and hilarity, and never fails to keep this up until the credits.

Knoxville’s ability to improvise on the spot really does make some of the conversations with the public. Together, with the inspiring ability of nine-year-old Jackson Nicoll (Billy), their characters become true identities that you start to believe. I mean, a nine-year-old manages to maintain composure, and think on his feet whilst talking to, and making grown adults feel uncomfortable. That’s something special, and promotes the authenticity of the reactions that are shown.

It is crude, and anyone hoping to take their grandmother to the cinema might need to heed this warning: she better like vulgar humour! There are fake cocks, and there are fake balls, but it’s the language that’s likely to get the most attention. Not necessarily swearing, but if you’ve ever read the Urban Dictionary, you’re already well versed in Irving’s language. For the Jackass audience, of teens through young adults, it’s bloody fantastic and entertaining viewing, though don’t force poor grandma through it. She suffered enough in the war.

Even once the credits roll, the action isn’t over, and you’re treated to a highlights reel of behind the camera scenes, and of the moment that tell the victims about what’s actually going on, and this prevents any sort of belief in it being staged. Some of their reactions to being told its fake are even more brilliant considering what we’ve seen them do, when witnessing illegal activities that perhaps they should have responded less culpable to!

If you’ve ever enjoyed Jackass, you will love this, and if not, you’ll still probably join the chorus of laughter in the cinema. This is a film that prides itself on its storytelling (relative to the genre) and is genuinely laugh out loud funny; that’s a rare thing in today’s cinema.


About the Author
Matthew Gildea is a Journalism and Broadcasting graduate. With a keen eye for football and gaming, he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Charlie Brooker and have really crap hair.