When you think of a film by the people behind “Jackass” what words come to mind? “Outrageous?” “Over the top?” “How in the hell did they do that?” Well their latest collaboration, “Bad Grandpa,” can certainly be described by those words. And don’t forget “Hilarious.” Heck, I’d even add “Even Touching.”
No, I’m not kidding.
We meet 86 year old Irving Zisman (Knoxville in some incredible make-up) shortly after his wife has passed away. To add to his bad news his daughter (Georgina Cates) informs him that she is heading back to prison. She asks her pop to please take her 8 year old son, Billy (Nicoll) from Nebraska to North Carolina to drop him off with his father. Irving is reluctant at first but, seeing she has no other choice, agrees. Thus begins the ultimate road trip.
Like “Borat” before it, “Bad Grandpa” is a hidden camera experiment taken to new heights. Knoxville is so skilled in his performance that he manages to convince anyone he encounters that he is a kindly old man who’s just having a string of bad luck. Be it an estate sale gone bad, a funeral service gone even worse or a night of drinking at a St. Louis bar featuring male dancers, director Tremaine’s cameras catch everyday people at their best (and, to be honest, most of the people do take a liking to gramps and Billy). I think it has something to do with respecting your elders. When in one scene Grandpa tries to ship Billy to North Carolina packed in a box at a local shipping store, the ladies assisting him go to great lengths to help him. EVEN AFTER THEY LEARN THERE IS A LITTLE BOY IN THE BOX!
What makes the film special are the moments between the “bits” — when Billy and Grandpa are alone, talking about fishing and the future. You almost forget you’re watching a seriously “R” rated comedy, so endearing are Knoxville and Nicoll. I’d love to see these two characters on screen again.