Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa

By Cory Haggart

Mailed on February 13, 2014

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Dear Tony Gardner
Special Makeup Designer

Dear Tony,

Man, where you on Prometheus? For that film, which only had its visuals going for it, the hilariously bad old man makeup only underlined how bad everything else is. Well, you dodged a bullet by choosing the more modest epic that is Jackass_ Presents Bad Grandpa_. But you must have wondered--as you lovingly crafted the convincingly elastic old man ballsack and delicate face wrinkles--that despite being a better movie, it was also undeserving of the Oscar nomination that was bestowed upon it.

That sad sack and wrinkles belong primarily to Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville), the titular Bad Grandpa. Rediscovering debauchery after his wife passes, he then reluctantly leaves to deliver his young grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) across several states to live with the boy's loser father. It's the thinnest of storylines, but it takes you through a funeral, estate sale, to the bingo hall, a strip club and other perfect settings for Jackass pranks.

And the pranks, in true Jackass style, make you laugh. Out of shock, disbelief, joy, and all of the other reasons. For a few seconds. There is almost nothing lasting about the laughs or surprises, and the story definitely doesn't sit with you once the movie is done. And most would argue that it isn't trying to. That under the disguise of higher production values and a narrative approach with a script and characters, that it's still just a Jackass movie.

So why the disguise? Some of the best parts of the Jackass movies is the fact that real people were doing totally unreal things. The friendships and bromances that lead to visceral injuries is the magic. Doing the same, but in disguises while pranking complete strangers is the least important part of the whole endeavour.

Because in the disguise, I get pranked too. Is there something special in the relationship between the young boy and his very bad grandpa? Are there themes of ageism and changing expectation in our aging population? If you believe the disguise, you might engage the movie that way. And then feel like a total jerk because it's not an actual narrative movie! It's just a Jackass prank. You fooled me for expecting more. It was all just a costumer for an actual movie.

Still, it's enjoyable. There's enough going on that your time watching it isn't wasted (unlink _Prometheus, _which was a technology demo disguised as a movie). But when you put together the disguise, and use it to mislead, you better know who's laughing and who's played. If you're expecting the wrong people to pay for their investment, you might not get more than the one try.


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