Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, which is released nation-wide today, is the latest in the Jackass empire of TV shows and films. Though not meant to be a critical darling, critics have been fairly positive about the movie; at Rotten Tomatoes, the film’s earned a 64% fresh rating, while Metacritic has it at 53/100. A mix of hidden camera pranks and scripted scenes (with a script from collaborater Spike Jonze), it stars Johnny Knoxville as a recently widowed 86-year-old embarking on a cross-country trip with his 8-year-old grandson.
On the most positive end of reviews, USA Today said that it “not only stands as the best installment (by bounds) of Johnny Knoxville’s hidden-camera franchise; it’s one of the sharpest comedies of the year.” The New York Times tentatively praised the movie, saying that its “weird-sounding mix of scripted narrative and found footage works better than it seems it might,” adding “Knoxville and his young sidekick still land a few jaw-droppers” in the increasingly tired hidden camera style.
The San Francisco Chronicle calls it an “uneven” film that “is definitely not for prudish moviegoers, definitely funny for everyone else, and even approaches poignancy in one or two scenes,” even saying “Jackass is so much closer to On Golden Pond than anyone could have imagined when the MTV show debuted 13 years ago.” The Los Angeles Times also sees more than cross out comedy in the Jackass empire, saying Knoxville is “playing with an extreme form of performance art framed by a frat-boy, locker-room, keg-party mentality. In all that running amok that so often involves (and I don’t know why) alligators, subversive social jabs can be found.”
The Village Voice is less keen on the film but praises the young Jackson Nicoll, saying “the joke is really on Knoxville, who, despite flinging himself through a glass wall and rigging up a fake poo-sprayer in his pants, gets fewer laughs than his boy sidekick” and that “[b]y Jackass standards, Bad Grandpa is benign—it’s neither as fun nor as thrilling as watching Knoxville play tetherball with a beehive.” And The New York Post really didn’t care for it, suggesting the filmmakers “could have saved a lot of money by asking some fifth-graders to name the funniest things they could imagine. This whole movie is pretty much a mental colon blow.”