The “Jackass” films certainly aren’t for everyone. I bet some are even turned off by their production company called Dickhouse. The movies made by the Jackass troupe make a fair amount of money, but some find the films stupid. I can see why, but those who enjoy stupid humour, will like this film. It is a refreshing change from their usual fare when they’re just doing crazy stunts, led by the main Jackass, Johnny Knoxville. But the crazy stunts that put himself in danger aren’t completely absent from this. This time, it’s only him and the little Jackson Nicoll in on the fun. Knoxville is unrecognizable as his Irving “Bad Grandpa” Zisman character, trekking alongside America to deliver his grandson, Billy (Nicoll) to his viciously irresponsible father because Billy’s mother is going to jail for smoking too much crack. The boy’s father sees the kid as a quick way to make $600 per month.
As you can gather, the film makes an attempt at creating a story – no matter how feeble, as it is as generic as practically every other road trip film out there, it just has a creative twist. There are hidden cameras set-up around where the prank will happen, so it must not have been the hardest directing gig ever- but Jeff Tremaine does just fine, and it does seem challenging to choose the funniest pranks that make it into the film. I wonder if any of the people figured they were on some of hidden camera show, with “Just For Laughs Gags,” the Jackass group themselves and what have you. This is practically an R-rated Just For Laughs/Gags, but much funnier, and with a lot of dick jokes, staying true to the Dickhouse production name. It’s never in the same stroke of genius as something Sacha Baron Cohen might create, but it’s a very funny movie that is such a good time, I wouldn’t say no to watching it again. It had me having to catch my breath after laughing so hard on two occasions.
It has some priceless gags that, while immature, are just hilarious and the people’s reactions are very funny. The film’s problem is really just the characterization, even if it might have been attempted. The ending is less funny than the rest of the film, which disappoints. It has a strong comedic momentum until then. None of the emotional attachments really ring true and Billy is going on and on about wanting to be a fisherman, which feels random as hell. Does it add a layer to the character that he’s a kid with hopes and dreams and that he thinks he could achieve them better with his grandfather rather than his father? The child actor shows much more promise than he did in a largely non-speaking role in last year’s “Fun Size.” He’s very funny and he outshines Knoxville a few times because he’s unexpected. He’s filthy-mouthed and he’s apparently quite the shit disturber, much like his troublemaking character. I was rarely annoyed by him, and that’s how a few child actors make me feel. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones who are hired merely for their cuteness.
The best part of these type of movies for me is how the actors can stay in character the whole time. Knowing myself, I’d start laughing right away. I’d be horrible in these actors’ shoes, and they show true conviction, especially Nicoll. There’s a reason I’m watching the film and not starring in it. Especially because I wouldn’t have the courage to do something like this, as after Knoxville and co. damage public property and then run off, I’d imagine when they go back to have them sign wavers, they’d be pretty damn angry. Knoxville could have been hurt after destroying property because they were so angry, so I guess they had to choose wisely who they pulled pranks on.
One example of Nicoll’s admirable conviction: This isn’t much of a spoiler, though, because everyone’s seen it in the previews. He dresses up as a girl and enters a beauty pageant, and does a stripping gig to the sound of “Sweet Cherry Pie” for his talent portion. Honey Boo Boo has nothing on this kid. But it is slightly offputting that he looks more like a girl than one of the actual girls who is reminiscent of a Barbie doll. Oh, and, a thought to the beauty pageant Mothers of America: Please don’t dress your kid up to look exactly like a barbie doll. It’s getting creepy.