It’s been a few years since the last Jackass film; the hit and miss formula of ridiculous public stunts, aimed to shock and confuse bystanders is incredibly fun to watch at times, which is why the brand has always been entertaining. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa threads this formula throughout an actual narrative, much like one of Sacha Baron Cohen’s movies. This style of hidden camera comedy is done very well here, and from start to finish, the audience is guaranteed to at least be cracking smiles at Johnny Knoxville’s charming performance as aged prankster Irving Zisman.
Side-splitting laughter is the forte for many of the movie’s big scenes, including a visit to a male strip club, and a child beauty pageant. Knoxville knows that the general public are good-willed and can take a joke, and the good nature of his encounters adds a heart-warming element to the film.
As Irving drives his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) from Nebraska to North Carolina for a reunion with Billy’s dead-beat dad, the laughs stockpile and the stunts get progressively riskier right until a fairly emotional ending. Character development is surprisingly done very well here, with the chemistry between Knoxville and Nicoll remaining the driving force behind the movie’s success.
There is much bemusement as onlookers casually stop and stare at Knoxville and Nicoll using their road trip as a giant playground; the humour of all the unwitting extras is memorable and takes this movie far beyond my initial expectations.
Bad Grandpa is an unexpected hit, and is much funnier than the movie’s trailer would have you believe. While much of the humour is offensive, it’s done with heart and a genuine playfulness that will have you smiling just as much as it will have you bending over with laughter.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Bad Grandpa is screening in Australian cinemas nationwide now.