Combustible Celluloid
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With: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Georgina Cates, Spike Jonze
Written by: Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine, based on a story by Adam Small, Fax Bahr, Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine
Directed by: Jeff Tremaine
MPAA Rating: R for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use
Running Time: 92
Date: 10/24/2013

Bad Grandpa (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Serving of Irving

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Unlike the episodic Jackass movies, the new Bad Grandpa -- with Jeff Tremaine at the helm, and with Spike Jonze as a co-writer/co-producer/all around cohort -- has a very loose plot upon which to hang its gross-outs and stunts. It requires the 86 year-old Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) to reluctantly drive his 8 year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) from Nebraska to North Carolina, to live with his delinquent dad. Also, they are transporting the corpse of Irving's late wife in the trunk.

Oddly, the movie plays the old Hollywood card in which grandpa comes to love the little tyke and becomes a better person, but only in "Jackass" style (also Bad Santa style), wherein not much is really compromised. Irving learns that he can use the boy in his vain attempts to pick up women. He's not picky, but he prefers the company of African-American women. ("They used to call me Jizzy Gillespie.")

Some of the bits, with unknowing spectators, take place in an all-black male strip joint, a bingo parlor, a funeral, a wedding, and in a biker bar. Fear not: in a couple of slapstick stunts Knoxville is thrown through a window or folded in half.

It's far from genius, or even coherence. However, the best bit comes close to Borat-like satire. It sends up one of those creepy child beauty pageants: Billy, disguised as a girl, does an adult-worthy stripper dance. The shocked, disgusted pageant parents seem ignorant of the very fine line between this and their own prefect children's performances. Coming near the end, this sequence, coupled a few others, send Bad Grandpa (a.k.a. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa) off with a warm, dirty smile.

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