Despite the agonising hours one might pour over perfecting a script or honing their optimal punch line delivery, it remains true that nothing is funnier than real people. Following on from the previous triumphs of hidden camera comedies such as ‘Borat’ and ‘Bruno’, ‘Bad Grandpa’ is a fresh approach to the ‘candid camera’ game.
Johnny Knoxville plays 86 year old Irving Zisman: An adrenaline fuelled sex pest, casual alcohol abuser and general rule breaker. His objective is to accompany his 8 year old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) across Nebraska, in order to reunite him with his neglectful father Chuck (Greg Harris). In spite of Knoxville’s success in previous ‘Jackass’ productions, for me it is young Jackson Nicoll who shines. His excitable enthusiasm and off the cuff vibrancy is mightily impressive when confronting the typically brash American public. Meanwhile Knoxville, without the aid of Oscar nominated makeup and prosthetics to transform him, would otherwise struggle to convince as the boundary crossing grandpa.
Recruiting old friend and Oscar nominated starlet Spike Jonze to co-write the script, does ensure the assortment of pranks follow some form of coherent narrative. Nonetheless at times, it feels as if these stunts are imagined without any connection or thought regarding their purpose. The combination of cinematic and secret camera angles is however engaging. Sifting through the immature toilet humour, there are some strong laughs through various encounters with dangling testicles and black gigolos, to bingo halls and genitals trapped in a vending machine.
The people of America are of course the real star. Their consistently animated reactions are never dull. My favourite member of the public has a shopping tag still attached to his jeans, whilst Billy tries to awkwardly convince him to be his new father (delightfully charming and reclusive; that was probably the highlight of his day).
Overall, this film is not in any way ground breaking or a ‘must see’. However it is some light relief, for when you want to indulge in something easygoing.
IMDB Rating: 6.7/10
My Rating: 6/10