Synopsis: 86-year-old Irving Zisman is on a journey across America with the most unlikely companion: his 8 year-old grandson, Billy.
Bad Grandpa is essentially a spin-off of one of Johnny Knoxville’s characters from the Jackassfilms. While the Jackass franchise was not everyone’s cup of tea, I enjoyed the mindless humor, antics, and social interaction that was present in all of the films. What made the franchise so easily adaptable in the “mindless humor” realm was that it was a compilation of stunts and sketches that carried no weight individually but drew strength from the compilation as a whole. This method gave audience members anticipatory pleasure by wondering what would come next and also gave them hope that the next segment would be better if they did not enjoy the current or previous segment/s.
Bad Grandpa makes the assumption that Knoxville’s Grandpa character has the strength to carry a film on its own…their assumption was dead wrong. The plot of this film is entirely unnecessary essentially due to how the film progresses. Scene by scene the film moves like a Jackass film except with the focus on one sketch that is repeated in different ways over and over. I wasn’t necessarily expecting a great plot from a film presented by Jackass, but my point is that I would rather have had no plot than their attempt to string together sketches with a story that is nothing more than added run-time. The point of this film is the public reaction to the skits and while there may have been a way to create a viable plot, their attempt failed.
With the focus being on the skits, I admit I did laugh, but the laughs were few and far between. Most of the skits were repetitive and long-winded which added to a stagnant plot. A rule of thumb of mine is that the funniest moments of a comedy are typically found in the trailers that precede the film. If a majority of the trailer’s moments are engagingly funny then I can expect a few laughs and if the film has more laughable moments than what’s in the trailer then it’s an added bonus and usually a comedy I thoroughly enjoy. Bad Grandpa exploits all of its best comedy in the trailer leaving the film with no surprises. There were a few crude moments that obviously couldn’t be shown in the trailer but they were weak attempts at humor that relied more on a crowd’s reaction than the crude nature. On a positive note, I will reiterate that the moments shown in the trailer are quite funny, but not funny enough to carry the film.
Overall I think that this film failed. This Jackass character did not have the strength expected to carry a film alone and belongs in a short confined sketch rather than a full length film. The film needed more originality and variation but consistently dragged on with a stagnant plot and repetitive public reaction bits. I’m surprised that the creators thought a spawn of the Jackass franchise could survive its own feature film when Jackass’s strength was that it presented their characters in small acceptable doses. With such a miniscule amount of entertainment, I have to say this is the worst film that I’ve seen this year, don’t waste your money.