Mix between reality TV, narrative in ‘Grandpa’

From the creators of “Jackass” comes “Bad Grandpa,” a raunchy roadtrip comedy full of hidden cameras and real reactions. Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville “Jackass Number Two”) has to get his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll “Fun Size”) to North Carolina to live with his dad after Billy’s mom gets sent to prison. Unlike previous “Jackass” films, this one has an actual storyline for the audience to follow, although it is rather simple.

The roadtrip storyline allows them to make stops and pull pranks on people there. A lot of them are clever, some are just silly and most of them are shocking in some way. However, the viewer always knows when a prank is coming because the camera switches from the normal camera to the hidden ones, which are a bit lower quality.

This kind of comedy is not for everyone. It is raunchy, oftentimes gross humor and is definitely not what everyone finds funny. Unfortunately, that is mostly what “Bad Grandpa” has to offer. Fans of “Jackass” will enjoy this comedy, but not everyone may feel the same way about it. The main reason it works is the shock value, which the “Jackass” crew has more or less perfected at this point. There is quite a few laugh out loud moments.

It is a strange sort of appeal because as the audience, you are having the same reactions the people on camera are. You’re separated from them though, because you are in on the joke, allowing you to laugh at them. This position is sometimes almost uncomfortable for the audience. The film is a bizarre dichotomy of the genre of the hidden camera show mixed with an actual narrative.

Some of the jokes do fall a little flat. There are times when it feels like there should be laughter, but there is none. After about an hour, the pranks get a little redundant and tedious. Unfortunately, a lot of that has to do with how much was given away in the trailer for the film. Some of the best gags were spoiled by this, one such being the beauty pageant scene, which is probably one of the funniest in the film.

One of the things that is most surprising about the film is actually how much heart is put into it. Nicoll, who gives the best performance of the film as Billy, really tugs at viewers’ heartstrings. He provides a nice emotional break in what would otherwise be a mostly one-note film.

“Bad Grandpa” is an enjoyable ride, unlike anything seen in theaters in recent years. It is funny, shocking, and has a heart beneath all the crazy vulgarity. While the pranks are a surprise, the story is all in all very predictable. Still, it is a laugh-out-loud comedy with great stunts that are bound to impress. The crudeness of the comedy might be off-putting for some, but fans of “Jackass” should give it a shot.

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