Bad Grandpa Blu-ray Review

Mischief-Making Blu-ray Review: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

February 10, 2014Ben MK

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Adventures in babysitting

By Ben Mk

Leave it to Johnny Knoxville to push the envelope when it comes to pushing people's buttons. The Jackass star has helped give new meaning to the word shock value and has all but turned the art of surprise into an art form. But at some point, every art form — no matter its origins — has to evolve. And so, we have Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, the next evolution in the franchise, which attempts to breathe new life into the series by fusing their trademark prankster antics with — shockingly enough — a heartwarming storyline.

Those who've seen any of the previous Jackass movies may recall Johnny Knoxville and Spike Jonze's fondness for dressing up as the elderly and pranking unsuspecting bystanders with their wildly inappropriate behavior. In Bad Grandpa, Knoxville once again dons the layers of wrinkly prosthetics to become a curmudgeonly, crass and rude senior citizen, named Irving Zisman. Irving's a retiree whose wife has just passed away; and he's thrilled to find himself suddenly free to do as he pleases. But the only thing standing in the way of his newfound freedom happens to be his grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll). Billy's mom has just left him with Irving, and now it's Irving's job to take Billy to Raleigh, North Carolina to stay with his deadbeat dad. Of course, Irving doesn't really like Billy, but maybe — just maybe — throughout the course of their trip he can learn to love him.

And that's where the tried-and-true Jackass formula come into play, taking this simple plotline and using it as a springboard for stringing together a series of gags involving Irving, Billy and a slew of unsuspecting citizens. Consider it Bad Santa, reverse engineered and told through the framework of Borat or Brüno (minus the scathing social commentary). The storyline frequently takes a backseat to the gags, which run the gamut from Kids Say the Darndest Things type of humor to typical Jackass stunts and NSFW pranks. It's somewhat of a mixed bag, but at least Nicoll is able to hold his own against Knoxville in every scene, since a good portion of the gags depends on him making an impression as cute and loveable while doing or saying things that would otherwise make people cringe. The film boasts a handful of truly memorable pranks, including one where Irving gets in on the action at a male strip club and another where he and Billy cause havoc at a youth beauty pageant, while the rest are at least good for a chuckle or two.

Realistically speaking, there isn't too much that can (or should) be expected from the film, in terms of its visuals. Stitched together from a combination of low quality, hidden camera footage and higher quality video, the image quality of Bad Grandpa reflects the tone of the film itself. But when it's good, the image is quite polished and pleasing to the eye, with rich colors and excellent clarity. Suffice to say, the Blu-ray transfer is completely faithful to the film's theatrical exhibition, and it's undoubtedly the best that the film can possibly look. Audio-wise, the disc's DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack proves to be overkill for the film's generally modest, dialog-heavy soundstage; but it's definitely the optimal way to experience the film's musical accompaniment, yielding a smooth listening experience from start to finish.

The film pranks its way onto Blu-ray with not one, but two versions: the original, theatrical cut and an unrated, extended cut, adding ten minutes to the runtime. The extra footage in the extended cut is fairly discreet, amounting to a variety of minor scene extensions and an additional scene, in which Irving attempts to cheat his way to a new suit to wear to his wife's funeral. The disc also includes over an hour of HD special features, including thirty-five minutes worth of behind-the-scenes featurettes (covering eight of the film's pranks), twenty minutes of alternate reactions from real people (highlighting alternate reactions for six more of the film's pranks) and six minutes in deleted scenes (of which there are three). None of the extras are especially enlightening, but there's definitely entertainment value here for those who enjoyed the main feature. The Blu-ray release also provides two additional ways to watch the film, via an included DVD copy and a code redeemable for an Ultraviolet or iTunes digital copy.

To give credit where credit is due, the team behind Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa have tried to diverge from the norm by trying to blend crass pranks with a heartfelt storyline. Ultimately, the results are middle of the road, but Jackass fans should still find something to admire in the film, even if it may not be the pinnacle of the franchise. The A/V presentation of the Blu-ray release is as good as it gets — with the film looking and sounding as good as it possibly can, considering the production constraints — and the disc's special features contain a healthy array of content, making Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa on Blu-ray worth checking out for fans of the series.

Disc Breakdown
The Film  —  ★★½
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  ★★★½
Special Features  —  ★★★

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on October 25th, 2013.

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