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Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa (2013)
Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/28/2013
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/17/2014
There are plenty of words which could be used to describe Jackass -- stupid, immature, dangerous, insane, bad role models, etc. And yet, I highly doubt that anyone has ever uttered the phrase "good idea" while watching either the TV show of one of the movies. And yet, that's what sprang to mind as I watched Bad Grandpa. Johnny Knoxville and his cohorts clearly haven't grown tired of the stunts and pranks for which they become famous, but they seem to have grown weary of how they are being presented. In all of their previous projects, we've simply been presented with a collection of individual vignettes. While some were tenuously linked, they were shot in a verite sense, with the intent to be to capture the moment. Someone had the good idea to takes these elements and place them inside of a loose narrative so that the result was a series of crazy antics which a story to bring all of it together.
There were several times on the Jackass TV show and in the Jackass movies (which were simply more explicit versions of the show) where Johnny Knoxville and Spike Jonze were made-up to look like either an elderly man or woman (Jonze seemed to prefer to be the woman). They would then go out in public and do very bizarre things in order to shock on-lookers. This idea has been carried over in the Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa feature film, but, again, this time there is a story.
86-year old Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) is going through a rough patch. His wife has just died, and his daughter is being sent to jail. Due to the latter incident, Irving must now look after his 8-year old grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll). Feeling that he is now free to live his own life feeling his wife's death, Irving has no intention of taking care of the child and makes arrangements for the boy to live with this biological father in North Carolina. So, Irving settles his affairs in Lincoln, Nebraska and heads for the east coast. Along the way, Irving and Billy get into a lot of trouble and the old man finds himself growing fond of the boy.
To say that Bad Grandpa is a weird undertaking would be a gross understatement. Again, the movie is a hybrid of sketch show and narrative film, which sounds like a disaster, but somehow, it works. We know that Irving isn't really an old man and that Billy is simply an actor, but, thanks to the improvisational manner in which the film was made, we also feel the true connection between them, and thus there is a bizarre emotional component to the film. Sure, I had feelings with the other Jackass projects -- I felt sorry for those who had to live with those idiots. But here, I found myself oddly compelled by this clearly fake story. I wanted to see Billy finally get his wish of simply fishing with his grandfather.
Of course, all of this schmaltzy manipulation is just a backdrop to the wild shenanigans on display in the film. The Jackass guys are known for the practical jokes and there warped senses of humor, and Bad Grandpa features some of their best gags yet. We expect the movie to push the boundaries of good taste, but most of the vignettes push the boundaries of "Didn't they think that someone would beat them up during this?" From the funeral to the estate sale to the wedding to the night club to the beauty pageant, nearly every scene is filled with gags which are alternately hilarious and cringe-inducing as we watch Irving and Billy due some truly strange things in front of unsuspecting on-lookers. The result is like watching Candid Camera on steroid, as we are constantly bewildered by how bold and stupid the scenes are.
The bottom line here is that Bad Grandpa produces a number of belly laughs, due to either the surprise factor or the sheer absurdity of the jokes. (The restaurant scene became my favorite.) The only real problem here is that many of the best gags were presented in the trailer, so, if you've seen the preview, the movie won't have quite as much of an impact. Still, there's no denying the laughs produced by this film, and even those who normally don't go for the Jackass style of humor will find something to like here. And, it's always great to see Charlotte in a movie, even if it is standing in for another city.
Bad Grandpa does little to disguise the Charlotte logo in the background on many shots on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing on overt grain. Due to the hidden camera nature of the project, some shots are a bit hazy or show some minor pixellation, but this has nothing to do with the transfer itself. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The master shots show nice depth and a notable amount of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Again, due to the nature of the film, we don't get a lot of prevalent audio effects here. The street and crowd scenes deliver some noticeable stereo and surround effects. The in-film music sounds fine. I didn't detect any notable bass effects outside of the music.
The Bad Grandpa Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "Behind the Scenes" (35 minutes) contains eight sub-sections which focus on the big set-pieces in the movie. In this age of CG, we rarely wonder "How did they do that?" anymore. But, that's not the case with Bad Grandpa. These featurettes show us how the scenes were staged, how the "marks" were duped, and the amount of work which went into the film (especially the beauty pageant sequence). "Alternate Marks" (20 minutes) offers unseen moments from six scenes in which "civilians" not seen in the film get the Jackass treatment. There are some funny moments here. "Deleted Scenes" (6 minutes) offers some unseen clips and longer versions of gags from the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long