It was a beautiful day. I got my run in for the morning. The morning's fall chill turned to a balmy afternoon with the scent of leaves in the air and the sounds of chirping birds, squirrels and snakes rustling in the leaves were of course mixed in with the proverbial sounds of construction in the area. It was a beautiful late October day in which I got my fill of the great outdoors.
What was there to do next on a unseasonably mild day? Oh yes, go see a silly film at the local multiplex. Cami and I were in the mood. Don't ask why, but it was just one of those decisions. We decided to see Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa, the latest "vehicle" from MTV Films' Johnny Knoxville. Now, I never took much interest in Mr. Knoxville's "work." The Jackass films just seemed to be lazy Reality TV fare that literally jumped onto the big screen. Several weeks ago, I caught the previews to Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa and felt that this then-upcoming production would be a bit more shall I say, "palatable." The feeling for the day was perfect so why not?
In one description I could sum up Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa as this: It is Candid Camera-on-steroids filled with cheap, tasteless humor. For the many who do not remember Alan Funt's Candid Camera on television from many years ago, the original idea is a gem: play practical jokes on people without their knowledge that they are being recorded. Of course, the trickster Funt always revealed that his "victims" were "had" and if there was no revelation, then most likely lawsuits would have been flying at the program's producers.
Mr. Knoxville's film takes Alan Funt's idea to levels unseen before - complete with very good make-up for Mr. Knoxville, high-quality stunts and oh yes, a plot . Knoxville plays 86-year-old Nebraskan Irving Zisman. Zisman just learns that his wife of nearly a half-century has died. At the wife's funeral, Zisman's "less-than-desirable" daughter shows up late and informs her father that she has to go back to jail. Thusly, daughter ends up leaving her rotund, boisterous 8-year-old son, Billy with Zisman. In this scene - like many other scenes - the actors are in on the joke. During the funeral sequence, Grandpa Zisman and his daughter have an argument in front of unsuspecting funeral-goers -- right off the streets -- that Grandpa wants to spend time dating instead of caring for Billy. Zisman's daughter insists that Grandpa take Billy and promptly leaves the funeral service. Grandpa Zisman becomes so flustered that he knocks over the open casket to an already-shocked crowd.
The hijinks ensue throughout the film in several locations as Grandpa Zisman insists on taking Billy back to his even more" less-than-desirable" father in Raleigh, North Carolina. From Zisman making countless inappropriate advances to rigging a children's ride that throws Zisman into a furniture store to a very inappropriate scene where Zisman tries to become a male stripper, Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa lacks taste in every single way possible.
I confess that I was in the mood for mindless entertainment to ease the stress of everyday life. It pretty much ends right there. I'm not recommending this film nor am I condoning the film. I only recommend the film if you are ever in such a mood as to laugh directly at tasteless, cheap humor. By the way, the film is definitely not for the kids.
Humor that has gone over the line to some is nothing new. 1978's National Lampoon's Animal House is chock full of humor that displays plenty of bad behavior. And let's not even discuss the Porky's films from the 1980s. More recent films including Anchorman and Step Brothers kind of poke fun at tasteless humor from the outside looking in-they are a bit more high brow in my opinion. We also must remember that bathroom humor is not only the work of male producers/directors these days. Who could ever forget 2011's Bridesmaids? Writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo definitely leveled that playing field with the incredibly funny and talented Melissa McCarthy who plays Megan, a quite vile character in her own right.
Now, I'm not trying to over-analyze Mr. Knoxville's film. After all, it's just a film in which Mr. Knoxville and his crew pull off some amazing trickery. Believe me, just sitting through the end credits shows how hard Mr. Knoxville and company worked to produce this film. But does Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa display society's moral decay in accepting this type of humor or are those who are offended by Mr. Knoxville's work just too uptight? I certainly cannot answer those questions. I will just leave it all at this: humor works for certain people and falls flat for others. At any rate, sometimes you gotta laugh.