Craig Life can be at its funniest when you’re either very old or very young. But no matter what your age, a comedy like “Bad Grandpa” inspires laughter in everyone.
If you go
“Bad Grandpa,” rated R
Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars
Running time: 91 minutes
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Greg Harris and Georgina Cates
Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig’s West Theatre.
Newly widowed Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) has a new lease on life. Single and ready to mingle for the first time in decades, he has big plans for his remaining lifespan.
However, that was before his 8-year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) was dropped in his lap. With Irving’s convict daughter (Georgina Cates) unavailable to take care of her son, the only options are for the kid to stay with his grandfather or for Irving to drive him from Lincoln, Neb., to live with his father (Greg Harris) in Raleigh, N.C.
Next stop, the Tar Heel State!
As the old man and the boy he barely knows venture across the country, the pair begins to bond while they get in one misadventure after another, leaving Irving to wonder if having Billy around full-time might not be so bad.
Knoxville’s octogenarian character from MTV’s “Jackass” gets his own showcase here, with the stuntman who will do anything for a thrill shocking real people all over the place while incognito under extensive makeup. Seeing him move, you might not believe that someone so spry is actually 86 years old, but it’s easy to see how someone could be fooled by the white comb-over, the liver spots and a cardigan that looks like it’s been around since the Eisenhower administration.
And, Irving’s droopy earlobes are far from the most pendulous part of his elderly body.
Joining Knoxville on his quest to get unscripted reactions from the unwitting public is star-in-the-making Jackson, alternating between the sweet little boy who only wants someone to take him fishing to an incorrigible smart-mouth who’s more than a match for his older traveling companion. Any money the kid makes from this movie will undoubtedly be earmarked for future therapy sessions, but he certainly gives folks something to talk about whether he’s asking random men on the street to be his new parent, serving as Irving’s wingman — wingboy? — or dressing in drag at a child beauty pageant that involves a striptease of professional caliber.
Eat your heart out, Honey Boo Boo!
Basically what we have here is a fourth “Jackass” film with the addition of a plot amid all the pranks and vulgarity. Without much of his usual gang, Knoxville finds a great comedic partner in Jackson, evoking giggles from a mechanical bed gone haywire and a friendly fart contest that goes horribly wrong, just to name a couple of their gags.
The King of the Jackasses clearly aspires to be like Sacha Baron Cohen in mockumentary high marks like “Borat” and “Brüno,” but there’s a big difference in their styles. One is a character actor and the other is a showman with a lot of latex covering his face.
Not to nitpick, but Knoxville’s constant winks to the camera and restrained guffaws tend to harm the illusion, something that was expected in his previous movies but doesn’t work in something with an actual plot.
Even with its fourth wall disappearing and reappearing whenever it’s convenient, “Bad Grandpa” is the right amount of both cute and crude to put a smile on anyone’s face. Here’s hoping we see the exploits of Irving Zisman at age 87.
Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.