In today’s world of smartphones, YouTube, and Instagram, every idiot walking the planet has a camera, and an accessible platform to showcase their own brand of nonsense on. What started in 1948 with the iconic television series Candid Camera would go on to spawn thousands of rips and spin-offs in a variety of formats; The Tom Green Show, movies like “Borat” and “Bruno,” America’s Funniest Home Videos, and many others.
In 2013, the “minds” behind the MTV television series Jackass got together and released a full length movie called “Bad Grandpa.” Having grown up loving the antics of Tom Green and (though I hate to admit it) finding Sasha Baron Cohen’s “Borat” amusing, I don’t consider myself to be elevated above the enjoyment of simple humor. The previews for “Bad Grampa” looked funny, but in the end it was one of the worst movies of all time.
“Bad Grampa” is a series of gags and stunts perpetrated by Jackass front man Johnny Knoxville, dressed in the character of an eighty-six year old pervert named Irving Zisman. The gags and stunts are tied loosely together with an actual storyline (though I’m not sure why) in which Zisman is forced to take custody of his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) when the child’s mother (Georgina Cates) is sent back to jail for violating terms of her parole.
120 seconds into the movie and I knew I was going to hate it.
“Bad Grampa” is loaded with dick and fart jokes which can’t be funny if you are over the age of ten and intelligent. An early scene depicts Irving with his penis stuck in a vending machine pleading with passers-by for help and the yuks are on.
The problem with “Bad Grampa” is that the gags aren’t funny at all, and neither is Knoxville. As Irving and Billy make their way across the country to deliver Billy to his dirt-bag father (Greg Harris) they stop off to do dumb things along the way like have a farting contest at a fancy restaurant, hit on old ladies at a bingo hall, wrestle with a giant fake fish that has an enormous fake penis, or dress Billy up as a girl and enter him in a beauty pageant.
The shenanigans being caught on film are supposed to be real, as in Knoxville and Nicoll are the only ones privy to the fact that it’s a movie, but once again if you are over the age of ten and intelligent you can quickly figure out that it’s all staged. While elaborate and obviously time consuming, the Irving costume that Knoxville wears does not make him convincing as an old man (though he somehow fools everyone he encounters) and apparently there are no police in any of the places they stop as they do things that would surely land Irving in jail and send Billy to Child Protective Services. The reactions of shock on the bystanders are nothing more than obvious over-acting slop from drama class dropouts (who apparently fail to see the camera crew following Irving and Billy around).
Tom Green was funny because he was able to catch actual people reacting and recoiling in shock or dismay at whatever prank he was pulling off. The “victims” in “Bad Grampa” never act in a plausible way towards the foolishness Knoxville is employing. If I were on the beach and saw an old man on the ground wrestling with a two-hundred pound fish, I would probably phone for help before making a wisecrack about fellatio. And though highly obnoxious, Tom Green is genuinely funny. Johnny Knoxville comes across as an immature frat boy.
I honestly can’t fathom how anyone could find this movie funny at all. If you do, I challenge your intelligence and plead that you never speak to me. It fails on the real-life market since the gags aren’t real, and it fails as a scripted comedy because it fails to be funny in every single way.
In the end, “Bad Grandpa” is a bad movie. And there was no bigger jackass than me for watching it.
by – Matt Christopher