Jackass brings back everyone’s favourite filthy grandpa in Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa .5. Home viewing audiences get an assortment of pranks that were cut from the original hidden camera escapade as well as ideas that paid off with unsigned release forms or slacked pacing that may have bogged down Bad Grandpa’s storytelling.
Bad Grandpa .5 is an extended behind-the-scenes feature more than anything. The indestructible Johnny Knoxville as well as director Jeff Tremaine and co-writer/co-star Spike Jonze reminisce about the birth of their full-length film dedicated to Jackass’ “old man bit”. The men discuss unused pranks and moments that weirded them out, “marks” that supplied golden reactions, and the DIY production that was pulled off quite well for people usually revelling in crotch kicks and bodily fluids.
A lot of math went into Bad Grandpa. First of all, Knoxville had to adjust to early morning preparation (with make-up effects conceived by Academy-Award nominee Stephen Prouty). Next up, Knoxville had to figure out how to better define the character of Irving Zisman. Bad Grandpa .5 does an admirable job at showing the hands-on process to mould the surly senior. Knoxville himself seems surprised with the character development that began with Irving being an irritable fart looking to get socked, eventually ending with being a rebellious hooligan.
Movie goers who are watching this feature on Netflix or on another VOD outlet will see why some of this material was left on the cutting room floor. That’s not to say all the set-ups are humourless (only a few overstay their welcome), but we see that their contribution to the film’s story would’ve been small. They at least made me – someone who thought Bad Grandpa was hysterical – feel like that. When Bad Grandpa’s credits rolled, I was disappointed to see that Jonze’s “Gloria” and Catherine Keener’s role as Irving’s wife “Ellie” had been axed. After watching Bad Grandpa .5, I now see why those characters were expendable.
In a behind-the-scenes post-prank clip, Keener looks towards the camera, jokingly holds up the middle finger, and exclaims “I f*cking hate this”, but she’s game for whatever Knoxville throws at her. As Jonze explains, Keener is a great improviser – we see that.
Jonze is also a howl as he pushes the limits of taste by punishing a potential “mark” over the phone and squirting “milk” out of prosthetic breasts in front of a gobsmacked prankee. Unless Cuba Gooding Jr. gets really desperate, this is most likely the only time you’ll see an Academy Award winner do this.
Just as they were in Bad Grandpa, everyone who made the movie is a good sport about being on camera and explaining how the film was made. Camera operators show us just how encapsulated their vantage points are, and Tremaine is very honest about how much of a ragtag design Bad Grandpa had. But, it’s easy to see why everyone agreed to sign on. Their giddiness shines as they venture out to capture great footage and make a good comedy. Knoxville takes pride reminding viewers that the film’s make-up was nominated for an Academy Award with one of his signature snickers tagging along.
Since it is a compilation of different scenes, this feature doesn’t have a cohesive string of events tying it together, and the fun ends abruptly with its final gag. But, Bad Grandpa .5 is funny and a worthwhile watch for anyone who enjoyed Irving’s antics last year.