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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