News Column

'Bad Grandpa' succeeds on its own low level [Daily News (Bowling Green, KY)]

October 31, 2013

YellowBrix

"Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" doesn't aim too high in its quest to entertain.

A film that is essentially an extension of the MTV series "Jackass" and its three big-screen endeavors, "Bad Grandpa" offers some laugh-out-loud moments. It also has moments that don't work at all, resulting in an uneven piece of cinema that tips more to the positive side, especially if potty humor still makes you giggle like a 10-year-old.

Unlike the "Jackass" films, which were nothing more than a series of crazy stunts strung together, "Bad Grandpa" has a small storyline to tie the gags together. Johnny Knoxville plays 86-year-old Irving Zisman, who is celebrating his freedom after his wife passes away.

The freedom doesn't last long, however, when Irving is asked to take his grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) across the country to reunite with his father.

The road trip formula allows Knoxville and his "Jackass" team to do what they do best: stage elaborate hoaxes to get the craziest possible reaction from unsuspecting victims. In "Bad Grandpa" you get everything from Knoxville in heavy prosthetics trying to pick up women attending a male strip show to Nicoll trying to recruit unsuspecting strangers to be his new dad.

"Bad Grandpa" pushes the envelope, not always hitting the mark. There are some inspired bits, however, including Irving packing Billy in a box and attempting to ship him through a UPS office.

The film's signature bit is Billy dressing in drag to compete in a beauty pageant - culminating in a pay-off that is as funny as anything in the previous three "Jackass" films.

"Bad Grandpa" isn't just about grossing the audience out (which it does a lot). It remains an interesting study on how easy it is to fool people - even in the day of YouTube and Facebook.

Some things may come and go, but it seems like the candid camera gags will always have a place in American pop culture.

And "Bad Grandpa" proves that there is still plenty of possibilities left in the genre.

Also in theaters

On the other end of the spectrum this week is "The Counselor" (D+), a star-studded drama with a quality director (Ridley Scott) and respected screenwriter (Cormac McCarthy) that falls flat.

It's a convoluted mess that is more dull than intriguing.

Michael Fassbender plays the title character, a lawyer with a beautiful fiancee (Penelope Cruz) who is desperate for more income. He decides to get into drug trafficking with a client named Reiner (Javier Bardem) and his partner Westray (Brad Pitt).

When the deal goes bad, the counselor becomes the prime target for the cartel that has been double-crossed, leaving everyone in danger.

"The Counselor" is a case where the screenwriter probably loved his words a little more than he should have.

Characters give long monologues that are supposed to have the snap and flare of a Quentin Tarantino film. Instead they are long-winded moments that only emphasize the fact that nothing ever really happens.

To the cast's credit they give it their all - especially Cameron Diaz as Reiner's girlfriend who proves to be something more than just a sidekick. But even her character is a victim of the screenplay, with a scene that features Diaz having sex with the windshield of a car.

It's a scene that I'm sure was designed to create some buzz and shock its audience, but, like the rest of the film, it feels pointless.

"The Counselor" is rated R for graphic violence, some grisly images, strong sexual content and language and is now playing at the Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.

-- To get sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton's thoughts on all things movies, visit his blog at mcompton.wordpress.com or his Twitter page at twitter.com/mcompton428. Email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.

Credit: By MICHEAL COMPTON The Daily News mcompton@bgdailynews.com 783-3247

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