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The Jackass films (and shows) have always been over-the-top, idiotic, and simply hilarious. Johnny Knoxville and the gang never ceased to make us laugh with their crude, nonsensical and often disgusting gags. With much of the originals moving on and getting older it seemed unlikely that a 4th installment would hit the theaters-and while that's still in limbo-we are still graced with a nice spinoff from the same twisted minds. Bad Grandpa is an often hilarious road trip romp with enough gags and laughs to keep it going for its brief runtime but doesn't always seem to hit the spot that its predecessors did.
Former Jackass director Jeff Tremaine returns for Bad Grandpa. We follow the wildly outrageous Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) as he and his grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll) go on a cross country trip to bring Billy back to his father because his mother has gone to jail. Throughout their trip they catch live people and pull inappropriate, but often funny pranks to shock them. Nothing says opening a movie like grandpa getting his private parts stuck in a vending machine. What Tremaine does exceptionally well is the timing of the gags. Like Zisman says in the film, "the secret to comedy is the timing." Certain gags simply shouldn't have worked as well as they did, but the Jackass creators just know how to strike that nerve. But on our fourth outing with this type of humor it does get tiresome and it's never quite as funny as it wants to be. If anything while watching Bad Grandpa you may feel a bit of nostalgia and want to pop in those old Jackass DVDs.
The chemistry between Knoxville and Nicoll is what sells the movie. Sure the unsuspecting people being shocked by fecal matter on a restaurant wall is funny, but when Billy catches Zisman off guard due to the largely unscripted dialogue and we get genuine laughter from Knoxville, it makes the film shine. It's a surprisingly warm hearted film, even with the familiar aesthetic and raunchiness. Knoxville proves once again that he can be a dramatic actor if need be, despite the ridiculous old man make-up.
While Bad Grandpa doesn't improve on the formula of comedies, it certainly takes a new twist by adding the real with the fake, and at times it feels a bit of a cumbersome aesthetic and the jokes don't always hit their marks. But most of the time there are enough belly laughs to make-up for the lack of...Jackass(for lack of a better term). The chemistry and timing is what make Bad Grandpa worth the price of admission. If you enjoy fart jokes and old male strippers, you'll love Bad Grandpa. I give Bad Grandpa 3.5 stars out of 5.
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