'Bad Grandpa' a 'Jackass' joke that needs less scripting, more danger
Strip the danger out of “Borat” and the injuries out of “Jackass” and you've got a bead on “Bad Grandpa,” a fitfully funny, semi-scripted “Jackass,” outing built around elaborately staged pranks played on the unsuspecting.
Johnny Knoxville dons old-age makeup and becomes Irving Zisman, whom we meet at his wife's doctor's office.
“I thought she'd never die.”
Innocent bystanders give him a look.
At the funeral, a hired black church choir freaks out — a bit — at Irving's tasteless eulogy, and the mayhem with his crackhead daughter (Georgina Cates) that dumps the casket over in front of everybody.
A running gag in the movie: black people's nervousness around a corpse. Another running gag: Irving's racially tinged wisecracks to Hispanic store clerks, black cashiers and strip-club fans and a fetching Asian woman his 8-year-old “grandson” (Jackson Nicoll) befriends somewhere around Nashville.
The crackhead daughter's dumped the kid on Grandpa. After a very public, Skype Internet-cafe rant with the kid's no-good pothead dad (complete with bong hits) to rattle the patrons, we're off on a bad grandparenting trek from Nebraska to North Carolina, complete with flatulence gags, sagging body parts, bad driving and a demonstration of extreme shoplifting.
There are explosive laughs in these stunts — grandpa sucker-punched by an airbag, hurled through a store window by a cheap kids ride set up out front. Most of this stuff you've seen in the very funny TV ads.
And the kid (Nicoll was in “Fun Size”) is flat-out hilarious, a natural “Jackass” in training.
The scripted interludes aren't funny at all. The gags are more embarrassing than anything else. As “Jackass” japes go, though, “Bad Grandpa” was better in concept and in its short, punchy TV commercials than it is as a feature.
Roger Moore is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.