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Not so Bad Grandpa'

October 30, 2013
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Bad Grandpa Bad Grandpa

Jackass production full of foul fun

We're rapidly approaching awards season, that time of year when all of the major studios begin trotting out their Oscar bait. Before long, we'll be seeing all manner of prestige pictures hitting the big screen at our local cineplexes.

But that's not all we'll see.

This weekend has 'Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa' taking its box office bow. The 'Jackass' crew led by Johnny Knoxville has been called a lot of things over the years. Oscar-worthy is not one of them. That said, while I would like to claim to be a filmgoer of relatively sophisticated taste, sometimes I like films that let my inner 14-year-old come out and play.

And judging by the film's $30 million-plus opening weekend, I'm far from the only one.

The movie stars Knoxville as Irving Zisman, the 'Bad Grandpa' of the title. Zisman's wife has just passed away, and in the midst of his 'grief' (he's actually pretty OK with her departure), he discovers that his drug-addict daughter Kimmie (Georgina Cates, 'Sinner') is heading back to jail. The problem is what to do with her son Billy (Jackson Nicoll, 'Fun Size'). Kimmie demands that Irving take Billy to North Carolina to live with Billy's father, a ne'er-do-well named Chuck (longtime stuntman Greg Harris in his first acting role).

What happens next is an absurd and ridiculous cross-country trip. Irving and Billy wind up hitting a number of big cities and small towns along the way, engaging in awful, cringe-inducing behaviors often involving innocent people who don't actually know there's a movie being filmed.

Yeah 'Bad Grandpa' is basically a collection of 'Jackass' hidden-camera pranks stitched together with a loose plot. It's an excuse for Knoxville to do what he does best make the unsuspecting public extremely uncomfortable.

And I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Depending on where your sense of humor lies, there are a lot of laughs to be had here. There's an undeniable chemistry between Knoxville and his young co-star he and Nicoll previously worked together on 'Fun Size,' and the familiarity clearly shows in the comfort level the two share. Irving Zisman is a one-dimensional character, but it's hard to care too much when the one dimension is 'dirty old man.' Of particular enjoyment are the improvisatory man-on-the-street moments the two share with assorted unsuspecting passersby.

The big set pieces are the hidden camera pranks; they're just as crude and crass as you might imagine. Whether you're watching fart escalation gone horribly awry in a diner, a pantsless old man crashing a male nude revue or innocent movers conned into putting a corpse in a trunk, 'Bad Grandpa' offers a whole lot of moments that will make you laugh, make you feel bad about laughing and then make you laugh again.

Sometimes you want finely-crafted stories, exquisite cinematography and moving performances. But sometimes, you're just looking to see an old man get his bits caught in a vending machine.

'Bad Grandpa' definitely gives you one of those things. 

[3.5 out of 5]

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