‘Bad Grandpa’ finds a jackass trying to give us heart

Johnny Knoxville (in old man makeup) and Jackson Nicoll get into trouble in "Bad Grandpa." Credit: Sean Cliver
Johnny Knoxville (in old man makeup) and Jackson Nicoll get into trouble in “Bad Grandpa.”
Credit: Sean Cliver

‘Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa’
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

At 42, Knoxville is the only “Jackass” masochist who wants to keep the party going. Anybody who has watched the making-of documentary for “Jackass Number Two” knows how impossible it is for Knoxville to stop with the concussion-inducing shenanigans, as he kept forcing the film crew to shoot him slamming into street signs over and over again, long after initial production wrapped.

The spinoff movie “Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa” has Knoxville (plus director Jeff Tremaine and producer/writer/sometime performer Spike Jonze) dusting off elderly character Irving Zisman, who would do typical, dirty-old man stuff around unsuspecting people.

This movie attempts to do what none of the previous “Jackass” movies have done: actually wrap a plot around the madness. Dusting off his dirty old man Irving Zisman character, Knokville rejoices over the death of his wife, free to once again get frisky with the opposite sex. He initially celebrates by going to a convenience store and physically penetrating an outdoor vending machine, which obviously leads to some stunned, not-so-sympathetic reactions from passersby.

This celebration gets cut short when his soon-to-be-incarcerated daughter (Georgina Cates) leaves him with her son, Billy (Jackson Nicoll). The movie soon morphs into a buddy/road comedy as Zisman travels through the U.S. in a gigantic Lincoln Continental, en route to North Carolina, where Zisman hopes Billy’s deadbeat dad will take the brat off his hands.

Throughout their journey, Zisman/Knoxville and the young scamp engage real-life participants in the movie’s hidden-camera pranks. Some are elaborate, as when Knoxville and Nicoll infiltrate a kiddie beauty pageant — the movie’s just-plain-wrong-on-every-level centerpiece. Some are seemingly spur-of-the-moment, including Knoxville trying to pick up random women off the street. “Grandpa” is in the same guerilla-comedy vein as Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” and “Bruno” — except without Cohen’s snarling contempt toward his victims.

While all of these pranks have Knoxville reveling in bad taste, the whole thing is silly, lightweight and routinely raunchy. As low-brow and gross as some of these bits get, the whole thing lacks the extreme, dangerous, I-can’t-believe-they-went-there transgressiveness the original “Jackass” movies dispensed. Compared to the other films, “Grandpa” is downright quaint.

But “Grandpa” is also the first “Jackass” to tug at your heartstrings. Zisman and his grandson bond during their little trip, and Knoxville actually tries to display some tender sincerity when he isn’t engaging in awful behavior. It’s weird watching a “Jackass” movie desperately show there’s a heart beating underneath all that mischievous fat. The crazy thing is that the “Jackass” movies proved that Knoxville and his crew had nothing but heart — they definitely needed it in order to do the twisted, jaw-droppingly insane junk they did.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.