JACKASS PRESENTS BAD GRANDPA (15, 92 mins) Comedy. Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Georgina Cates, Kamber Hejlik. Director: Jeff Tremaine.
Released in cinemas now.
The Jackass pranksters led by clown extraordinaire Johnny Knoxville take their wince-inducing brand of tomfoolery to the next level in Bad Grandpa.
They hang the usual daredevil stunts and bad-taste humour on a gossamer thin narrative that is by turns touchingly sweet and eye-rollingly preposterous.
A couple of people involved in this freewheeling mayhem are actors but largely, innocent passers-by are caught in the comedic crossfire and their stunned reactions - captured on hidden cameras - are hilarious.
Knoxville endures hours in the make-up chair to metamorphose into his signature character, badly behaved 86-year-old Irving Zisman, who starts the film in a hospital waiting room.
A female doctor (Kamber Hejlik) approaches nervously.
“Your wife passed,” the medic says solemnly.
A woman sitting next to Irving offers her condolences. “I thought she’d never die!” he cackles, confiding that Ellie denied him sex and is now in a better place.
At the subsequent funeral attended by unsuspecting mourners, Irving’s heartfelt eulogy is interrupted by his pot-smoking daughter, Kimmy (Georgina Cates), who is heading to prison and needs her cranky father to look after her eight-year-old son, Billy (Jackson Nicholl).
“I’m a free man for the first time in 46 years and I can’t be saddled with him!” growls Irving, as the stunned congregation overhears every word.
Thus Irving finds himself on a road trip to North Carolina to deliver the boy to his estranged father.
En route, the unlikely double-act terrorises unsuspecting members of the public including a gaggle of women attending a male stripper show.
In a sequence reminiscent of Little Miss Sunshine, Irving dresses Billy as a girl so he can take part in the Carolina Cutie Beauty Pageant and stun the three judges with an X-rated dance routine.
Gags in the film hit more than they miss, and some victim responses are priceless, like two women in a courier delivery store, who can’t decide whether they can let Irving send Billy through the mail. Or a woman at Irving’s garage sale, who is left shaken when his electric bed malfunctions and the old man is almost crushed to death. “I thought I was going to have a heart attack,” she whimpers.
“Let’s not make this all about you, honey,” deadpans Irving.
The relationship between Knoxville and Nicholl is lovely and the youngster scene-steals with aplomb, ad-libbing like a pro to the point that he makes his older co-star corpse.
Not all of the set-ups work though.
A fishing scene by a golf course is ridiculous and stunts which involve Irving exposing his nether regions go on far too long.
Yet there are some huge, rip-snorting laughs in Jeff Tremaine’s film, and on that most primal and puerile level, Bad Grandpa is rather good.