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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa review: male privilege on parade

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa red light Johnny Knoxville Jackson Nicoll

An unfunny “comedy” full of cheap crudity and punches down at targets who don’t deserve it. For some movies there should be hazard pay.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): hate this Jackass shit

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

I watched Bad Grandpa, the very idea of which nauseates me, only because it is nominated for an Oscar (for Best Hair and Makeup), and I was being obsessively completeist about the Oscars this year. As I’ve noted elsewhere, this is this first time ever that I’ve seen every nominee in every single category, and for that measure of professional pride, enduring this unfunny “comedy” full of cheap crudity and punches down at targets who don’t deserve it was worth it. But for some movies there should be hazard pay, and this is one of them. Jackass Johnny Knoxville (Movie 43) is 86-year-old Irving Zisman, on a road trip with his eight-year-old grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll: Fun Size), and getting into trouble along the way. The Oscar-nominated makeup is to disguise Knoxville, lest he be recognized as the pair pull supposedly real pranks on real people and allegedly recorded by hidden cameras; I’m torn between wondering just how instantly recognizably famous Knoxville thinks he is, and wondering just how hidden those cameras were, because we get perspectives from places where a camera couldn’t be if it weren’t all carefully prearranged with the knowledge of all involved (such as inside a fast-food takeout window as Irving and Billy are doing something stupid outside). I’m not sure if it’s worse that Knoxville — as one of the writers, and as a producer — thinks we’ll be amused by witnessing such cruel jokes as the disastrous funeral for Irving’s “wife” perpetrated on unsuspecting people who think they’re doing a kindness by showing up to support a lonely stranger, or merely that the illusion of such will entertain. (I am hugely disappointed to discover that Spike Jonze [Her] is also a writer and producer here.) Perhaps the most hilarious thing about Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa — and it’s not that hilarious — is how “Irving” seems perturbed by the lack of reaction his horny-old-man routine prompts from most of the women he subjects to it. Knoxville probably has no idea how women deal with the sort of abuse he’s dealing out all the damn time, and we’ve learned how to let it slide. He enjoys the blinkered privilege that many men enjoy, in that he can behave like a colossal asshole and get away with it most of the time. This isn’t comedy: it’s everyday reality. And there’s certainly nothing funny about it.


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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013)
US/Can release: Oct 25 2013
UK/Ire release: Oct 23 2013

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated BWBJ: boys will be jerks
MPAA: rated R for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use
BBFC: rated 15 (contains strong language, sex references and crude humour)

viewed on my iPad

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, you might want to reconsider.

  • Yeah… I love Jackass, but I couldn’t get through the first five minutes of this.

  • SandyT

    “He enjoys the blinkered privilege that many men enjoy, in that he can behave like a colossal asshole and get away with it most of the time.”
    Ahahahaha! Woow. Someone has a chip on her shoulder.

  • Tonio Kruger

    You say that as if men who behave like colossal assholes in real life are as rare as unicorns. Someone has a nice pair of rose-colored glasses.

  • In what way?

    Are you a male Sandy or a female Sandy? I’m gonna guess male, because virtually all women have had to cope with men being assholes — completely at random, in public, to women they don’t know, on a daily basis — simply because they can.

    Many men — even the good guys, sometimes — are completely unaware of how women are treated in general by men. I’ve yet to hear of a woman who has not been subjected to some sort of random abuse, but maybe you and your friends have been extraordinarily lucky. Whichever you may be, I urge you to check out The Everyday Sexism Project and hear women’s stories. You will be shocked.

    Unless, of course, you are actually being a troll here, and engaging in precisely the sort of colossally assholeish behavior I was talking about.

  • Fletch

    I disagree with your tirade. First of all I didn’t expect much from the movie, and was surprised how hilarious some of the situations and reactions were(Would not pay for a movie ticket but it was not bad for Netflix). The point is to go out and get reactions from people(they do very similar stunts on the show “What Would You Do”). The reason the things he says are funny is because they ARE so rude and unbelievable. The fact that some men actually act this way is irrelevant. It’s an act and when it’s overdone by an old man some people find the result entertaining. I’m one of those people and would think it’d be just as funny or funnier if an old woman was acting like a complete bitch or psycho and being verbally abusive or inappropriate(something men have to deal with all the damn time). I wouldn’t think the message of the film was that being a bitch is a good thing, I would think it’s for entertainment. Lighten up on Knoxville, it’s an act and he’s not the only one acting inappropriate in public to get reactions.

  • Danielm80

    Wow. I had to read your comment several times, because I couldn’t believe it actually said what I thought it said. I’ve decided to write a PowerPoint summary of your main ideas:

    * “It’s not bad. It’s mediocre.”

    * “It’s fiction, so it doesn’t have to be plausible.”

    * “But it would be completely realistic if the psychotic character were a woman.”

    * “Don’t make me think about the real world. I’m watching a movie.”

    * “A bunch of people liked it, so you should like it, too.”

    * “Bad comedies are a genre. And stop picking on Knoxville!”

  • Fletch

    Perhaps you should read the comment I was responding to and the original comment that was posted.

    1. I said it was entertaining. There are very few movies I’d pay to see, probably not ones that you think are “really good”.

    2. It’s fiction, and the author is whining about how abusive it is in the movie and how bad of a person Knoxville must be.

    3. It’s called irony. Read the original comment, the fact is feminists like the author see everything in black and white. They do not see that problems exist for both sexes.

    4. What? Maybe you need to polish up on your power point skills. I gave an example of another show “What Would You Do” that puts people in uncomfortable positions for people’s entertainment, or heck “Candid Camera” has been being rude to strangers for decades. It’s not real, that’s the point, that’s why it’s entertaining.

    5. Didn’t say she should like it too. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Doesn’t prevent me from giving my opinion of her commentary.

    6. Nope, hidden camera, TV shows and movies where the entertainment value comes largely from the unpredictable reactions of real people. One that I, and many other people enjoy.

    7. Just for a refresher this is what the author of this review had to say about Knoxville:

    “Knoxville probably has no idea how women deal with the sort of abuse he’s dealing out all the damn time, and we’ve learned how to let it slide. He enjoys the blinkered privilege that many men enjoy, in that he can behave like a colossal asshole and get away with it most of the time. This isn’t comedy: it’s everyday reality. And there’s certainly nothing funny about it.”

    Now try to explain to me how this is a reasonable statement.

  • David

    I think the whole point of this was to poke fun at the way that old people can get away with stuff. He’s “old” and so other people are less likely to confront him while a younger man would engender more hostility. Like the way that people hesitate to call a guy in a wheelchair an asshole, even when he’s being an asshole.

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