By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Most people either love or loathe Jackass and their wild, often puerile and sometimes off-color pranks. I fall somewhere in the middle. Some of their practical jokes and stunts are so smartly planned and performed that they deserve high praise for their comic timing and for the serious commitment to their characters. On the other hand some of the stunts performed on Jackass are beyond stupid and ridiculous. I see no artistic merit of being immersed in the filth of a porta-potty. With their latest film project, Jackass leader, Johnny Knoxville gives one of his regular prank characters a spin-off movie with a story and plot to tie several gags together.
Knoxville portrays the grandpa of the title, 86 year old Irving Zisman. When Zisman’s daughter has to serve a prison sentence, he receives the task of driving his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) cross-country to his deadbeat father. During the trip Zisman’s fondness for booze and younger women makes their trip one Billy will probably never forget.
My review will run shorter than most of my past ones because there really isn’t all that much to be said about the film. The story and plot are fairly simple, but are still effectively interwoven with some often hilarious practical jokes. Directed by Jeff Tremaine and written by Tremaine, Fax Bahr, Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville, and Adam Small, the cast and crew do exceptional work in the setup and performance of their pranks and gags. Even the non-prank scenes with Irving and Billy have their funny and even sweet moments.
The film actually has a heart and is not just the usual fun and games normally associated with Jackass. I enjoyed the pranks for the most part; however, in keeping with the endearing theme of the film, the jokes feel somewhat watered down in comparison with the history of Jackass. I also think that trailers probably show a little too much, because some of the better gags have already been revealed there. Thankfully, the producers probably found one particularly crazy funny sequence too risqué for the movie preview. Unfortunately, though, my favorite gag of the movie has already been revealed.
Before I conclude, I must applaud Johnny Knoxville for his excellent performance. He never breaks character in the scenes involving innocent bystanders. The makeup department also deserves a standing ovation for turning the 42 year old Knoxville into a believable 86 year old man. The combination of superb makeup and acting certainly fooled the general masses they caught on film. Jackson Nicoli also performs wonderfully as little Billy. He has a sweet and adorable charm that audiences will adore and a courage that helps him pull off some of the crazy stunts.
I honestly cannot recommend this movie for non-fans of Jackass. Diehard fans will have a blast and for those in the middle like me, this film will be more enjoyable than the previous films and TV show. If one hasn’t seen the trailer yet, avoid it at all costs, this film is best enjoyed completely unspoiled.