Bad Grandpa (2013)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

USA, 2013, Story by , , , , , Screenplay by Johnny Knoxville, Spike Jonze, Jeff Tremaine.  Cinematography by , Produced by , Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine.  Music by , Costume Design by . Film Editing by , , .

The team at Jackass, who have honed their skills in playing pranks on unsuspecting victims all the way to box office glory, successfully combine their brand of mayhem with a more traditional film narrative. Johnny Knoxville gets into some pretty impressive old age makeup to play octogenarian Irving Zisman, a recently widowed senior who is thrilled to finally be free of his wife and can’t wait to get out there and enjoy sex as a single man. A damper is put on his plans when his drug-addicted daughter drops her young son off during her grandmother’s funeral and tells him she needs Irving to look after the kid while she serves a jail sentence.

Irving decides to go on a road trip with the kid and take him to his dad, hoping to be rid of the responsibility of taking care of the tyke before it’s too late for him to get it on with a few pretty ladies.  Every stage of this story involves Irving and young Billy () being placed in situations in which the people surrounding them have no idea that they’re in a movie, including giving the kid beer to drink in public, turning heads at a bingo parlour, entering a child’s beauty contest and, the best of them, interrupting a ladies’ night at a male strip joint.

It’s hard to decide which sequence is the funniest or most outrageous (a lot to say about a movie in which a man spray-shits on the wall of a diner), but the conclusion, where they all reunite in the middle of a biker gang event is the perfect cap for it all.  Thanks to Knoxville’s excellent performance and the expert direction, this film’s laughs are comfortably mixed with a sweet poignancy; that the victims of their pranks are so good-natured in their initial response and even more congenial once the gag has been revealed (stay for the end credits) makes it a much gentler film than the group’s collections of pranks usually are.

Academy Award NominationBest Makeup and Hairstyling

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