Saturday, February 8, 2014

Short Cut Movie Review of Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Short Cut Movie Review is normally less than 400 words, but in some cases may go slightly over. This is my attempt to keep writing about as many films as I see without getting bogged down with trying to find more to say. They are meant to be brief snapshots of my reaction to a movie without too much depth.

I’m certainly no fan of the entire “Jackass” entertainment concept. The idea of a bunch of guys basically daring each other into performing increasingly outlandish stunts and filming them for mass consumption is just bottom feeder garbage. It is about the lowest form of entertainment and the emotional equivalent of a monkey throwing feces. But Johnny Knoxville started doing a little more with the franchise in creating the old man Irving Zisman character, who was strong enough for a movie of his own. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is a real movie and it actually works surprisingly well for a hidden camera prank movie.

It is so much more than a series of cheap stunts. Bad Grandpa is more in the spirit of what Sacha Baron Cohen did with Borat. He and fellow “Jackass” writer Jeff Tremaine (who also directed), along with Spike Jonze, build a story around Zisman involving having to take his grandson on a cross-country road trip to the boy’s father when his mother gets hauled off to jail. Then the execution is all guerilla style with elaborate pranks set up involving real people caught unawares.

If the jokes and setups alone were all it had going for it, then we’d have a series of pranks cobbled together. Some of them are absolutely riotous including grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) entering a beauty pageant as a little girl and Irving trying a striptease during Ladies Night at a local bar. Bu the story actually goes somewhere and effort is made to develop the relationship between Irving and Billy. This is a fascinating way of making narrative film because it constantly calls attention to its own artifice while at the same time having the potential to really engage. Bad Grandpa isn’t always on the mark, but when it is, it shines.

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