Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA. Starring Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll. Directed by Jeffrey Tremaine. 92 minutes. Rated MA 15+ (Strong sexual references and crude humour).

When a movie announces Jackass Presents, it is either a hearty welcome or a dreaded beware!

With the television series and with three movies, the last one in 3-D, diehard Jackass fans know what to expect. The unwary stumbling upon Jackass movies may well be very wary the next time.

What the Jackass movies present is a collection of what might at best be called “pranks” or, at worst, “idiotic death-wish stunts”.

However, what we have here, is closer to pranks than the accustomed stunts, though there are a few of these with the warning at the end, as always, that they have been contrived for the film and should not be tried at home.

Also this time is a semblance of a plot, a young woman is about to go to jail and leaves her eight-year-old son with her father, with the instructions to take him across the country and give him to his father. Actually, underlying all the pranks and the stupidities, there is a strong vein of sentiment – although grandpa is certainly hard to warm to and his grandson seems far too knowing and precocious, entering into all the pranks wholeheartedly.

Grandpa is played by Johnny Knoxville who is the foundation for the Jackass movies. Billy is played by Jackson Nicoll whom Knoxville met when they were acting together in the rather unfunny, Fun Size (where Nicoll played a rather creepy character).

As the couple across the country, they encounter all kinds of people, and test their reactions to some outrageous comments and behaviour. Then we realise that what the film is is really a Candid Camera kind of movie, setting up people in situations so that they react for the hidden camera. To be fair to the film and the victims, there are closing credits sequences where the audience sees how the cameras are set up and how people react – and all those who unwittingly participated are all listed as appearing as themselves.

Most of the jackass movies are “no holds barred”. But this film does not go to those extremes. Yet there are some very tacky and crass situations, some gross-out bodily function sequences and a lengthy one with (how can one put it?), genital prosthetics.

There is a huge audience for this kind of jokey film, a blokey kind of audience, a very extroverted kind of audience who relish this kind of humorous embarrassment. And it made $90 million at the American box office in its first two weeks!

Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

Out November 14 2013.


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