East Penn Press

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Movie Review: Grumpy old 'Grandpa'

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

How funny is "Bad Grandpa'?

Take it from the ticket-seller at the multiplex: "The girl at the concession counter had to use her inhaler three times."

Don't take it from me.

Then again, two movie-goers walked out during the first 30 minutes at a recent matinee of "Bad Grandpa" at that same multiplex.

Don't take it from me.

"Next time, let's go to lunch and forget it when there's a bad movie," said an elderly woman to her two elderly female friends sitting in the row in front of me at the matinee.

The three women walked out about half-way through "Bad Grandpa."

Don't take it from me.

"Bad Grandpa" opened at No. 1 at the box office with a robust $32 million for the Oct. 25 weekend.

"Bad Grandpa" is clearly not only popular with the medical inhaler crowd.

The premise of "Bad Grandpa" is that Johnny Knoxville, he of the "Jackass" TV series (2000) and movies (2002, 2006, 2010), is disguised as Irving Zisman, an 86-year-old caucasian senior citizen with zilch manners, a hankering for African-American women, and a sense of humor that makes Borat look sophisticated.

"Bad Grandpa" is a kind of senior citizen version of "Borat" (2006), where pranks are played upon an unsuspecting public, all the while filmed by hidden cameras. It's a twist on the TV show, "Candid Camera" (1960 - '75) created by Allen Funt, which also tried to get the best of people, and "America's Funniest Home Videos."

"Bad Grandpa" is a hybrid, though, as there is a bit of a plot. Following his wife's death, Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) drives he and his eight-year-old grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll), in a lime-green, two-door, vinyl-top 1981 Lincoln Continental from Lincoln, Neb., to Raleigh, N.C., where the boy's father is itching to gain custody and the $600 per month stipend that goes with it after the boy's mother is jailed for violating her drug-charges parole.

Along the way, grandpa and grandson get into all sorts of high jinks, many of which they perpetrate on apparently clueless strangers. These include mourners at his wife's funeral, employees at a shipping package firm, male strippers at a bar, patrons at a diner, attendees at a wedding reception, contestants at a child beauty pageant and bikers.

Jeff Tremaine, who directed the "Jackass" TV show and movies, directs "Bad Grandpa" from a screenplay he co-wrote with Johnny Knoxville based on a story he co-wrote with Knoxville, Fax Bahr, Adam Small and Spike Jonze.

"Bad Grandpa" has a stunt coordinator, stunt persons, hidden camera operators and special effects and makeup department the latter to transform the 42-year-old Johnny Knoxville into the 86-year-old Irving.

Alas, "Bad Grandpa" is not a very funny grumpy old man.

You may wonder why I would bother to review a movie like "Bad Grandpa."

Take it from me: I was wondering that, too, as I sat there watching "Bad Grandpa."

"Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," MPAA rated R (Restricted. Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.) for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use; Genre: Comedy; Run time: One hour, 32 min.; Distributed by Paramount Pictures-MTV Films.

Credit Readers Anonymous: While "Bad Grandpa" purports to be a trans-continental United States' trip, it was filmed on location mostly in Cleveland, Ohio, with some scenes also taking place in Charlotte, N.C.

Box Office, Nov. 1: The sci-fi action film, "Ender's Game," opened at No. 1, with $28 million, knocking Johnny Knoxville's "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" to No. 2, with $20.5 million, $62.1 million, two weeks, and keeping the geezer romp, "Last Vegas," opening at No. 3, with $16.5 million, and the animation family film, "Free Birds," opening at No. 4, with $16.2 million;

5. "Gravity," $13.1 million, $219.1 million, five weeks; 6. "Captain Phillips," $8.5 million, $82.5 million, four weeks; 7. "12 Years A Slave," $4.6 million, $8.7 million, three weeks; 8. "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," $4.2 million, $106.1 million, six weeks; 9. "Carrie," $3.4 million, $31.9 million, three weeks; 10. "The Counselor," $3.2 million, $13.3 million, two weeks

Unreel, Nov. 8:

"Thor: The Dark World," No MPAA Rating: Thor embarks on yet another quest and we're not just talking about his quest to unseat "Iron Man" as the most popular, critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful Mavel Comic adapted to the big screen. Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Kat Dennings (Darcy Lewis), Christopher Eccleston, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Jaimie Alexander, and Stellan Skarsgard star in the fantasy adventure film.

Read Paul Willistein's movie reviews at the Lehigh Valley Press web site, thelehighvalley-press.com; the Times-News web site, tnonline.com; and hear them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6 - 6:30 p.m. Mondays, WDIY 88.1 FM, and wdiy.org, where they're archived. Email Paul Willistein: pwillistein@ tnonline.com. You can follow Paul Willistein on Twitter and friend Paul Willistein on facebook.