Bad Grandpa

October 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll
Directed by: Jeff Tremaine (“Jackass,” “Jackass Number Two”)
Written by: Johnny Knoxville (debut), Jeff Tremaine (debut) and Spike Jonze (“Where the Wild Things Are”)

When the history books are written on popular culture in the early 21st century, MTV’s “Jackass” TV and film series will likely be remembered as its currently thought of by the general public: a bunch of stupid guys recording themselves doing stupid and/or gross stunts, spawning legions of dimwitted (read: teenage male) copycats. That would be a shame, though, since lead Jackass Johnny Knoxville and his band of co-conspirators gleefully cook up intricate and anarchic pranks and stunts you can’t help but giggle at. Yeah, they often end with someone getting covered in vomit or smacked in the nuts, but they make it look fun.

One of the standout segments in the series featured a character named Irving Zisman, an 86-year-old man played by Knoxville in heavy makeup, now expanded to feature-length in “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.” Crotchety and hapless, Zisman is charged with driving his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) across the country to stay with his father in the paper-thin plot. Along the way, Zisman and his grandson interact with an unsuspecting public, cameras capturing the genuine reactions of real people as they see what they think is an old man load his dead wife into the trunk of his car or get his penis jammed in a vending machine.

If this formula sounds familiar, well, it is. Sacha Baron Cohen seemingly pumped the well dry with “Borat” and “Bruno,” but Knoxville and director Jeff Tremaine end up avoiding the biting satire Baron Cohen went for and instead freshen up the formula with some genuine sweetness and heart.  The character of Zisman isn’t designed to expose awfulness or hatred a la Borat. Knoxville and company just think it’s funny as hell. And with the majority of “Bad Grandpa,” they’re absolutely right. Jokes falling flat are par for the course in films like this, but the gags that do hit will have you rolling. The penis in the vending machine mentioned earlier scores early (and makes you wonder who would want to ever look at a cell phone pic someone took of an old man’s wiener in Coke machine), and a farting contest between Zisman and Billy ends with a disgusting-yet-hilarious explosion of poop.

The real gem in the whole endeavor, though, is Nicoll. He’s such a marvelous straight man to Knoxville’s  antics, you’ll half wonder if he even realizes this is all a big fake out. A scene where Nicholl’s Billy happens upon a patient stranger and insists the man is his new father is funny and gentler than you’d expect, and the outrageous “Little Miss Sunshine” inspired finale turns the chubby boy into an eerily convincing pageant girl with moves better suited to a strip club. Knoxville’s cover may be blown to the point that Irving Zisman will never be able to resurface again, but at least the old man got a nice send off.

The Last Stand

January 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville
Directed by: Kim Ji-Woon (“I Saw The Devil”)
Written by: Andrew Knauer (debut)

After spending eight years as the Governor of California, action-star Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the big screen in “The Last Stand.” When a dangerous druglord escapes the custody of the FBI during transportation, he devises a plot to escape to the US/Mexico border through the quiet, small town of Summerton Junction. When former LAPD cop and current Sherriff Ray Owens (Schwarzenegger) finds out, he decides to round up a small team and do everything he can to stop the dangerous criminal.

Schwarzenegger returns to the screen with the type of charisma that made him a bonafide action star in the 80s and 90s. Of course, with that comes unintelligible lines and some very poorly acted scenes, but that is ultimately part of the package and really the charm of his performances. The cast is rounded out with a few comedic actors to wedge between the violence. Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville both get a few decent one-liners out but don’t really add much to the film overall.

In his previous Korean films, most notably in “The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” director Kim Ji-Woon has shown a great knack for constructing unique and exceedingly entertaining action sequences. In his American debut, Ji-Woon sticks mostly to car chases, flying bullets and blood spray. While a few scenes of excessive violence are amusing, the amount of action and pure fun never quite reaches the levels seen in previous films. In fact, the mayhem is pretty standard fare when compared to his other projects.

The introduction of the “escaped fugitive” plot is where the film begins to lose steam. What is supposed to be a captivating creative action sequence is actually quite boring. From here, the film begins to become stale. Bad plots, (complete with massive holes), bad dialogue, and even a few scenes of shoehorned and inauthentic emotion plague most of the movie. The final showdown of the film, while the best part of the movie, is also ultimately a let down.

With his rising age and lack of acting chops, it will be interesting to see where Schwarzenegger’s career will go from here. “The Last Stand” wears out it’s jokes at the expense of Arnold’s age, so any forthcoming reference in other films will be immediately passé. While “The Last Stand” delivers on its promise of gunfire and explosions, it does so in unimpressive and unmemorable fashion. While Schwarzenegger’s presence is entertaining, the story just isn’t interesting enough.

Jackass 3-D

October 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera
Directed by: Jeff Tremaine (“Jackass Number 2”)
Written by: Preston Lacy (“TV: The Movie”)

How much fun can you have with a guy who can fart on command? Leave it to the boys of “Jackass” to actually find out.

In “Jackass 3-D,” the third and quite possibly last installment of the film series spun from the wildly popular MTV show, Johnny Knoxville leads his troupe of package-punching friends into another collection of disgusting and sometimes hilarious skits created for a fan base who can probably stomach another round of jokes involving poop, piss, and other slimy bodily excrements that’ll set off your gag reflex.

Adding up to about three full episodes of the original show, “Jackass 3-D,” like its predecessors is hit and miss when it comes to the sketches. The first half of the film showcases the guys’ best work. The most memorable pranks include an oversized hand on a springboard that unmercifully high fives unsuspecting cast members, goofing around behind a jet engine blasting full speed, and a skit where Wee Man (Jason Acuña) gets into a bar fight that actually starts off quite lame but turns into a gut-splitting scenario.

The second half of “Jackass 3-D” focuses on the more nauseating set-ups, the most sickening being Steve-O drinking a cup of Preston Lacy’s sweat collected from him as he runs on a treadmill. While it seems contradictory to what “Jackass” is all about, the more thoughtful and less repulsive gags seem to bring the most laughs.

“Jackass 3-D” misses out on some opportunities to top what they’ve done before, but seem to be just fine with doing what has made them popular for the last decade. There’s really not a lot you can do to enhance mischief in a Port-O-Potty (the 3-D sure doesn’t do it here), but it’s evident the guys still care enough about their idiotic talent to come up with a few new things that’ll make fans squeal in delight.