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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa Unrated Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013) movie poster Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Theatrical Release: October 25, 2013 / Running Time: 92 Minutes (Theatrical), 102 Minutes (Extended) / Rating: R (Theatrical), Unrated (Extended)

Director: Jeff Tremaine / Writers: Johnny Knoxville, Spike Jonze, Jeff Tremaine (story & screenplay); Fax Bahr, Adam Small (story)

Cast: Johnny Knoxville (Irving Zisman), Jackson Nicoll (Billy Zisman), Greg Harris (Chuck), Georgina Cates (Kimmie Zisman), Kamber Hejlik (Doctor), Jill Kill (Pageant Reporter), Madison Davis (Juggalo Girl), George Faughnan (Juggalo Guy), Grasie Mercedes (Hostess), Marilynn Allain (Receptionist), Jack Polick (Funeral Worker), Spike Jonze (Gloria), Catherine Keener (Ellie)

Buy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa from Amazon.com: Blu-ray Combo • DVD / Instant Video: Theatrical • Extended

Spike Jonze is personally nominated for three Academy Awards this year: Original Screenplay, Original Song, and Best Picture, all for Her. But this isn't his only Oscar-nominated 2013 movie. Jonze also wrote, produced, and acted in Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, the newest chapter of his always puzzling involvement in that long-running,
increasingly lucrative MTV series turned film franchise. Yes, you read that right. Bad Grandpa is an Oscar nominee, being one of only three films competing for the Best Makeup and Hairstyling award.

Despite numerous accolades and glowing reviews, Her has been bounced out of the box office's top ten after just two weeks in wide-ish release. It's approaching the $20 million mark domestically and probably won't get much further than that by Oscar night, where its best chances of winning appear to be in the Original Screenplay and Art Direction categories. Meanwhile, Bad Grandpa opened at #1 last October, en route to clearing the $100 M mark on a $15 M budget that pales even compared to Her's modest costs. We're lucky that Jonze hasn't seemed too interested in commercial success, because such experiences would clearly drive a less artistic filmmaker away from creative achievement.

The divide between Her and Bad Grandpa is enormous. That the public has shown considerably more interest in the latter is nothing less than a depressing reflection of humanity's current tastes in entertainment.

Eight-year-old Billy (Jackson Nicoll) pushes his drunken grandfather Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) around in a shopping cart in "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa."

You don't need to have seen any "Jackass" episodes or movies to know that it's all about performing outrageous stunts in the name of comedy. Bad Grandpa takes a character that Johnny Knoxville has played in the TV series and all three feature films and builds something resembling a narrative feature around him. It's a hidden camera movie, preying upon the unsuspecting folks who don't recognize Knoxville's 86-year-old Irving Zisman from his previous appearances or as someone aged by makeup.

I like a good hidden camera production. I enjoyed Ashton Kutcher's "Punk'd" in its early days. I have derived some strange pleasure from the occasional taste of ABC's "Primetime: What Would You Do?", entertainment posing as news. I even tolerated "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment" when it was obvious that targets were playing along purely for a few minutes of fame. Bad Grandpa doesn't do much for me, though. It's too mean-spirited, ugly, and tasteless, qualities that sadly seem to explain the mass appeal.

The film's premise is that old Irving becomes saddled with Billy (Knoxville's Fun Size co-star Jackson Nicoll), his 8-year-old grandson. Billy's mom is about to do jail time on drug charges. His trashy dad (Greg Harris) doesn't want anything to do with the kid until he learns there could be a monthly government check in it. This sets up a grandfather-grandson road trip through America's heartland, with stops in St. Louis, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Irving loads the corpse of his recently deceased wife in the trunk of his old car and the two hit the road.

Billy (Jackson Nicoll) takes a road trip across America's heartland with his grandfather Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville). Irving (Johnny Knoxville) spices up bingo by drinking from his marker, making a margarita, and talking bawdy.

The stunts angle so integral to "Jackass" has been diminished to focus more on comic sketches, almost all of which involve Grandpa behaving badly. On their own, some of the gags nearly amuse, as when the two boldly make sandwiches inside a store from freshly-stolen ingredients. Most aren't nearly as gentle.
Dangly prosthetic genitals feature in sketches at a male strip club and a car shop vending machine. The two travelers' diner gas passing escalates quickly and disgustingly. The big show-stopping finale is a children's beauty pageant, in which Billy is dressed in drag and shocks his fellow contestants and their warped stage moms with a raunchy stripper act.

Bad Grandpa suffers from the same shortcomings that marred Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat and Brüno movies, neither of which came close to living up to the enjoyment provided by the HBO series that preceded them. The feature film format prompted Baron Cohen to go over the top, as content to make viewers cringe as to make them laugh. The films ostensibly included a degree of social commentary, with the writer-star aiming to expose ignorance and prejudice in Americans from easy redneck targets to older folks reluctant to offend.

Bad Grandpa can't even be credited with an attempt at generating such discourse through its deceptions. It's all about acting out. The people being pranked seem indistinguishable from the target audience. A couple of middle-aged women who nearly process a postal shipment of an 8-year-old boy in a cardboard box, a seedy motel dweller who knows the best local strip clubs for black ladies, and so on. Knoxville, Jonze, and writer-director Jeff Tremaine capture the candid reactions of undereducated Americans to their ridiculous shenanigans in a lowbrow film intended and enjoyed by the same demographic. It feels wrong and leaves you in need of a shower, as you wonder what could make Nicoll's parents think that such a movie won't have negative consequences for their young son.

You can argue that this is just a bit of mindless fun aimed at teenagers, but the film's success makes it clear that more than teenagers are seeing it. And while it might entertain some (and occasionally with reason, as when Billy awkwardly tries to get adults to be his new Dad), it also desensitizes and degrades without doing any good in return. Comedy is an integral part of cinema, but Bad Grandpa fails both for being rarely funny and for its sense of humor being worse than anything it's attempting to send up.

Available tomorrow, the Blu-ray in Paramount's combo pack presents the film in both its original hard-R-rated theatrical cut and an unrated extended one that runs 10 minutes and 19 seconds longer.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese, DVS)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), French, Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; BD-only: English SDH
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP) and
on Amazon Instant Video: Theatrical, Extended

VIDEO and AUDIO

Though the cameras may often be hidden and unlit, that rarely renders their footage less than professional. Thus, Bad Grandpa sports an often cinematic and usually clean and sharp 1.78:1 widescreen Blu-ray transfer. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack most springs to life in a couple of needle drops, but the source audio stays audible and crisp throughout, while subtitles make sense of any lines you might strain to understand.

Johnny Knoxville works out his wedding crasher stunt with Fed Ex boxes and other props standing in for a wedding cake in this behind the scenes video. Out of his geriatric make-up, Johnny Knoxville points out the hidden camera locations to a couple of Alternate Marks.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Besides the two cuts, the Blu-ray also includes three types of bonus features,
all of them presented in HD.

Eight "Behind the Scenes" clips (34:44) explain how the movie pulled off its gags (or didn't): the funeral, the estate sale, the convenience store ride, the crashed wedding, the biker bar drop off, and so on. We see the stunts being prepared and staged, and then the targets being illuminated to sign their release forms. It's interesting to see what goes into these pranks, some of which (the mailing scene, the run-over penguin) exceeded the filmmakers' expectations and others which exceeded their screentime needs (the beauty pageant is extended).

Six "Alternate Marks" clips (19:51) show us unused footage from the salon, doctor's office, and magic trick set-ups in the film. Some of it seems a little better than what's in the movie and includes revelations of the gag by Knoxville and Nicoll.

Irving and Billy's magic act is one of the Blu-ray's three deleted scenes. Grandfather and grandson drink beers together on the Bad Grandpa DVD's main menu.

Three deleted scenes (6:09) offer bits entirely unused in either cut of the film. They find Irving and Billy doing a sidewalk magic scam, a chair stunt, and more shopping cart antics.

The same disc sold separately, the DVD here includes no bonus features and only the theatrical cut.
It opens with trailers for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. The menu's Previews listing prefaces those with ones for Nebraska and A.C.O.D. The Blu-ray streams trailers instead, though currently pulling from the same pool.

The menu offers a standard montage of clips. The Blu-ray allows you to place bookmarks on each cut of the film, but does not resume playback easily after powering down.

Joining the two plainly-labeled discs are an insert supplying directions and a unique code for the included Digital HD and UltraViolet plus a coupon with a code that's good for $15 off a Ticketmaster sports tickets purchase. The eco-friendly keepcase is topped by a slipcover with the title embossed.

Irving (Johnny Knoxville) and Billy (Jackson Nicoll) make a sandwich from stolen ingredients inside a grocery store in "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Admittedly, I'm not currently in a state conducive to comedy, but Bad Grandpa struck me as extremely tasteless and unfunny. For every flash of wit in awkward exchanges with strangers, there are three over the top gags that just don't entertain as intended.

With its two cuts and solid hour of extras, Paramount's combo pack should satisfy those expecting to get multiple viewings out of this. But if your sense of humor resembles mine, then you'll find a single look to be painful enough.

Buy Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • DVD / Instant Video: Theatrical • Extended

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Related Reviews:
New: Last Vegas • Comedy Bang! Bang!: The Complete First Season • A.C.O.D.
Johnny Knoxville: Jackass 3.5 • Fun Size • Movie 43 • Men in Black II • Daltry Calhoun
Brüno • Road Trip • The Hangover • Beavis and Butt-Head: Volume 4
Spike Jonze: Her • Being John Malkovich • Where the Wild Things Are

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Reviewed January 27, 2014.



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