‘Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa’ Review Roundup: Johnny Knoxville Flick Gets Mixed Response From Critics
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa reboots Johnny Knoxville’s daredevil shtick by cladding the charmingly inappropriate stuntman in the garb of an octogenarian, complete with thinning white hair and liver spots – and giving him an equally crass little grandson and a plot. As 86-year-old Irving Zisman takes Billy (Jackson Nicoll) to live with his father following his mother’s imprisonment, hidden cameras capture reactions of unsuspecting individuals as Knoxville imbues Zisman with a raunchy spirit and a lithe body capable of pulling off crazy pranks.
Critics can’t seem to figure out what to make of Knoxville’s latest feature endeavor. While the attempt at a narrative arc – written by Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jonze and directed by Tremaine – is appreciated, the end result of Bad Grandpa has received a mixed reaction. Some reviewers waffled between praise and pointed criticism, while others simply hated it or loved it, dubbing it a “mental colon blow” and “funniest movie of the year,” respectively.
"The honest, embarrassing truth, though, is that a lot of this is funny. Not maybe the bathroom jokes, or grandpa's arguments with his son-in-law (there are real actors sprinkled throughout the film, and their scenes are often the weakest). But the real-life stuff? The hidden-camera footage of two women who seem — however briefly — to at least consider mailing a child parcel post? Or the crashing of a kiddie beauty pageant? Or the unnamed gentleman with the East Coast attitude who definitely gotta problem with dis joker knocking over dat penguin? Pretty terrific.” – Stephen Whitty, The Newark Star-Ledger
"Some concepts in the film — written in part by Knoxville and Spike Jonze — are pretty funny, and Knoxville and the perfectly cast Nicoll have great chemistry throughout. But longtime Jackass director Jeff Tremaine consistently cuts away too quickly, undermining each joke in order to rush on to the next. The best of the written scenes finds Billy entering an actual beauty pageant, dressed as a little girl. When he starts acting like a pint-sized stripper, the satire finally hits a Borat-level peak. But where Sacha Baron Cohen always has the daring to stand his ground, Tremaine and Knoxville fold." – Elizabeth Weitzman, The New York Daily News
"So the five professional writers of Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa sat down to think up ways for Johnny Knoxville, in the guise of an 86-year-old man with an 8-year-old boy by his side, to outrage America. They came up with: Invading the floor of a strip club and letting a rubber dingle-dangle fall out of his shorts. Stuffing a loaf of bread down his pants at a grocery store. Volcanically emptying his colon on the wall of a diner. Fellas: You could have saved a lot of money by asking some fifth-graders to name the funniest things they could imagine. This whole movie is pretty much a mental colon blow." – Kyle Smith, New York Post
"If you live in a binary world where experiences are either stupid or brilliant, with a firm dividing line in between, you have my condolences. You’ll never appreciate the sublime idiocy of Bad Grandpa, my contender for funniest movie of the year. I didn’t say best comedy, because a better film might try to touch the heart or mind in ways that “Bad Grandpa” never attempts. But in terms of explosive, laugh-the-shingles-off the-theater-roof hilarity, I haven’t seen a movie this good in ages." – Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, rated R, is currently in wide release.
– Chelsea Regan