The latest effort from the Jackass team – Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – pushes the boundaries of taste further than they have ever dared to venture before. Every time that you think it can’t get any more shocking, it does. It’s vile, crass, juvenile and utterly brilliant; Bad Grandpa is the best comedy of the year.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa stars Johnny Knoxville (Irving Zisman) and Jackson Nicoll (Billy) as a grandfather and grandson on a road-trip across America in a Borat-style blend of cinema and hidden camera set pieces. Along the way, the duo wreaks havoc on a funeral home, a biker gang and a children’s beauty pageant in some of the most outrageous pranks you will ever see on any screen.
Bad Grandpa’s greatest asset is that it is never scared of going too far and its performers are always willing to put themselves in the line of fire for the sake of comedy. Every time the film seems to have reached a peak of outlandishness – with seemingly no way of exceeding itself – it goes further again. And it spaces these moments out perfectly as well; whenever there is a moment that will leave your sides aching, and your lungs empty, it settles down for a little bit before tickling you into submission once again. The grand finale, at a children’s beauty pageant no less, is the most scandalous scene you’ll see in a cinema for a long time.
Johnny Knoxville exceeds himself, too. Over the years, he has made a name for himself by entering into outrageous situations and subjecting the general public to an unparalleled number of horrors but Bad Grandpa is a step up. There are so many moments where you wonder how he survived some of the scenarios he has committed to without getting his face punched in, you’ll see that the man is fearless when Bad Grandpa reaches the strip club scene.
His timing and improvisational skills are top notch as well; years of experience allow him to react in just the right way – or deliver the perfect line of dialogue – as each of the skits unfold.
Then there is Jackson Nicoll, as Billy, and a star is born. This kid is one to watch, I suspect he may well be an even bigger comedy star in the future. How such a young man can hold his nerve, act and react so flawlessly and think on his feet so well in the hidden camera segments is bewildering to me. He’s outstanding.
In addition to the stellar performances and thoroughly outrageous hidden camera hijinks, Bad Grandpa manages to spin a decent yarn along the way. The manner in which hidden camera pranks and storytelling is interwoven has never before been accomplished with such success and the developing relationship between Irving and Billy carries an unexpected amount of heart.
If sick, immature, toilet humour is your thing then Bad Grandpa will be your Citizen Kane. It seamlessly blends the hidden camera shenanigans of Jackass – which we’ve come to know and love – with a surprisingly warm story of a Grandfather and Grandson getting to know one another then turns the shock factor up to 11. Go see it, now.