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Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Blu-ray Review)

Of all movies to ever take your parents to see theatrically when they are in town visiting you after having not seen you for almost a year, Bad Grandpa prevailed.  I have to say.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took them there.  I was expecting the feature, judging by its trailer, to be a little bit of Jackass mixed with a true, somewhat semi-serious narrative.  And I know my parents secretly were laughing at the guys’ antics when I showed them Jackass 3 before so I was just hoping they would not be disturbed or repulsed by what they were about to witness onscreen.  And you want to know the kicker of it all?  I believe they laughed harder than me.  Ha!  Go figure!  Regardless of how I felt about it several months ago, the day is finally upon us when Bad Grandpa is coming home to the Blu-ray format courtesy of Paramount Media Home Distribution and now the burden lies with me to carry the cross and guide you through the following trek of a Blu-ray review.  You ready?

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Film 

It’s kind of hard to talk about this feature like a real narrative, huh?  Do you remember Johnny Knoxville’s Jackass series character the 86-year-old Irving Zisman?  Well if you do, you’re already in good shape here because knowing is half the batter.  In Bad Grandpa, Knoxville reprises that character once again in a tale where he’s unexpectedly responsible for the care of transporting and delivering his troublesome 8-year-old grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll), across a multitude of states to his father.  The two generations of troublemakers, so to speak, soon develop a bond, reluctantly on the senior’s side, as they hustle their way across the heartland of America pursuing hijinks and pulling pranks on unsuspecting real-life people.  Now this the meat and potatoes people.  This is where it gets interesting so listen up!  All of these real-life people have absolutely no idea they were starring in a hidden camera film.  Smile, you’re on blankety blank camera!  Now are you interested?  I know I was anxiously awaiting a second visit to this one, albeit mostly to see what was added for an unrated cut of it.

And yes!  I said an unrated cut.  Straight out of the mouth of Johnny Knoxville himself he has the following to say and I quote.  “We had so much hilarious footage that we had to cut for various reasons, so I’m psyched that people are going to get to see everything, especially when it’s unrated and on Blu-ray.  Woohoo!!” He also went on to add the following.  “Plus I think fans will get a kick out of seeing how we pulled off some of the pranks in the behind-the-scenes footage.  As Irving would say, ‘The show’s not over until I hogwrench the fat lady’s spatooly.’”

So ask yourself what can be funnier than watching the reactions/interactions of unsuspecting strangers witnessing an 8-year-old kicking the chair out from under an 86-year old man or that very same senior taking the kid on a free-for-all looting trip through a convenient store?  I have the answer for you.  You ready?  Nothing!  If you let yourself go just like you did with Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, you can actually have a good time with Bad Grandpa.  It’s really not all that stupid.  And after all, if you can’t laugh at the pranks he pulls on unsuspecting people, are you sure you’re really any fun to be around at all?  I have a point, huh?

So remember what I said about speculating originally whether or not Bad Grandpa had a narrative plot or not opposed to the three prior Jackass films or the series for that matter?  Well I hit it on the head with my way of thinking because that’s exactly it.  Unlike the three prior Jackass films, Bad Grandpa does have a plot that connects the stunts and pranks together.  And rest assured that I’m rehashing this subject matter once again because I don’t want anyone going into this thinking A) they have to see the previous Jackass movies for this to make any sense or B) skipping it entirely because they believe that there’s no linear, forward moving rhyme and/or reason for what will transpire onscreen…because there is!

Now that I have seen this film a total of five times, I think I’ve earned the right to commend the feature’s forward, and a bit touching narrative while also laying claim that the movie’s not really as fast moving as you would have expected it to be.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some really humorous, laugh out loud moments, but lot of it also feels like disconjointed Jackass-like stunts and pranks, albeit new ones.  The real caveat is to watch and really pay attention to the facial expressions and reactions of the unsuspecting people the stunts revolve around.  I’m surprised by how much extra I have caught/realized during my subsequent viewings.  It gets even better for me because I can pick out exactly what backdrops are filmed in my hometown of Cleveland, OH even though this road trip is not supposed to be happening anywhere closed to Ohio.  LOL.  That my friends is what they call movie magic.

So in the grand scheme of things, I guess it’s safe to say that if you’re a fan of the Jackass television series, the movie installments and Knoxville’s Irving character at all, then by all means…you already know that you’re in the right mix, place and company here.  You’ll feel right at home.  Just remember…Bad Grandpa is rude, crude and vulgar and the filmmakers make no concessions in the fact (and I love them for that).  But also keep this in mind, the real star of this film is not Knoxville, but a little boy named Jackson Nicoll, who you might have seen before in The Fighter and Fun Size if you were paying attention and counting.  He plays Irving’s grandson, Billy.  In my opinion, this film revolves and thrives around his character.  This little dude has got it going on and is completely into his craft and immersed in the role.  He had me at hello just like Brett Kelly in Bad Santa did.  Yes!  The kid’s that good (and adorable too)!

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Video 

So this is going to be a hard one to tackle in this and also in the next department here within this review.  It’s not because the video and audio presentation is bad, but it’s because of the guerrilla and stealthy tactics as to how it was filmed that may get some people uneasy.  I remember back in the day when Borat made its DVD debut.  I was upset because it did not get released in the US on the Blu-ray format.  A few of my colleagues in the industry balked at me and asked me why would you want that on Blu-ray.  The camera work, much like how it’s done in Bad Grandpa, is mediocre at best.  My response was simply this.  No matter how it’s filmed, I want the finest presentation of the feature in question that I can possibly get.  At this current moment in time, while writing the review, the same principle still goes and matters for me here.  Until they announce 4K Blu-rays, 1080p on Blu-ray is the best we can possibly get in today’s world (January 11, 2014) for Bad Grandpa and I’m happy to now be a proud owner of it.  So it should come as no surprise that a lot of the skits and segments here within this film are caught and captured by hidden cameras on unsuspecting prey…humans.  But just because they are hidden doesn’t mean the quality is horrendous.  Techniques to capture pristine video even under guerrilla circumstances have come a long way since the days of Borat.  So I don’t believe things are that bad here.  There are still scenes where there is a lot of clarity and detail to be found right down to the makeup age spots on Johnny Knoxville’s made up face.  There are also many moments of great vibrancy in outdoor shots with Billy’s red and blue outfit really contrasting with lush green vegetation in the background.  And who can forget how crisp and sharp the scenes in the beauty pageant look?  Sure, there are some rough spots here and there, but for what it is, I’m damn impressed with how well it looks.  It’s not going to give anyone that three-dimensional pop they crave on the Blu-ray format, but it also is representative of what was shown theatrically and isn’t that what we want with our Blu-ray experience?  We want the closest representation of a theatrical presentation, don’t we?  I know I do!  So that’s why Bad Grandpa with its 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode framed in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio doesn’t disappoint me at all.

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Audio 

So here’s the other tricky department to tackle in this review.  How do I talk about a kicking 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack and give it props with an average score like this above?  Well, let’s beat you over the head again and talk about the basics.  You all know how it was filmed.  Did you really expect it to sound monstrous like Pacific Rim?  Now don’t get me wrong, Bad Grandpa really does sound loud and voracious at times, but it’s mostly during the musical interludes and score moments.  Bad Grandpa is front heavy for a reason.  This kind of narrative is mostly dialog driven.  Duh!  And yes I did notice my subwoofer go to sleep a lot throughout the presentation, but again…it is what it is here.  Surprisingly, there are a lot of moments with surround sound activity.  While they are subtle in nature, my reviewer keen-like ears were able to distinguish and hone in on them when present.  So I like that.  No!  I like that a lot!  Most importantly, and thankfully, the dialog is always clear and intelligible.  If you ask me, they did a damn good job of capturing this.  When the musical moments kick and the soundtrack roars in this feature, you’ll feel it.  Believe me.  You will.  Billy’s performance will have you chanting Warrant’s hit song for hours.  Also selectable via the main menu are French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital audio cuts as well as English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

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Extras 

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa hits the Blu-ray format in a Blu-ray Combo Pack complete with the Unrated Cut I touted above along with the theatrical version of the film too.  Wow!  I just thought about this.  Two versions of the film is like double the bang for your buck, huh?  The combo pack also features over an hour of behind-the-scenes antics and footage, deleted scenes and alternate reactions from real people that we will go over in more detail below and a copy of the film in both the UltraViolet and iTunes Digital Copy formats.  I think this feature would have been a great one to have an accompanying audio commentary with, don’t you?  However, I digress.  I don’t know about you, but this is actually quite more than I would have ever expected from this Blu-ray combo pack.  What are your thoughts?  Wait!  Hold them for a few minutes as I go over in full detail everything you’ll find in this illustrious department.  And for what it’s worth, I’m a little generous with my score here, but I very much enjoyed these supplements.

  • Feature Film – Extended Version (HD, 1:42) – This is obviously the unrated cut of the film which clocks in a little more than ten minutes longer than the theatrical version we’ll talk about below.  The scenes play out a little longer and of course things are a bit raunchier.  Can we say more dick and balls?  LOL.
  • Feature Film – Theatrical Version (HD, 1:31) – The Rated-R version we all saw in the theaters is roughly 11-minutes shorter than the extended one, but I truly don’t think you can lose no matter what version you watch.
  • Behind-The-Scenes (HD, 34:44) – Rest assured, there is a play all option.  So that’s what I clicked!  And rest assured, there is a lot of juicy “behind-the-scenes” information to be found here within this department’s 34-minute runtime.  Wow!  I’m just going to skim below and chronicle some of the highlights of each featurette.
    • The Funeral (HD, 3:07) – They talk about how they lured people into showing up for the funeral scene.  It’s hilarious how they tell everyone the man that just walked out was Johnny Knoxville.  Then they have to ask everyone to sign a release.  LOL.
    • Estate Sale (HD, 4:43) – This one started off with a bit of a rehearsal and showing how the bed works.  This was actually filmed a real estate sale.  They said it took forever for someone to be interested in the bed gag.
    • Window Launch (HD, 4:23) – Come on!  You know you want to see how they made this contraption that throws Irving through the store window, don’t you?  Knoxville says he had to have a monkey on the ride.  Even though Johnny didn’t want to, they did do a test of this one.  It’s interesting as hell to hear Knoxville talk about nervousness with Jackson before the one chance of a lifetime take.
    • Shipping Billy (HD, 4:42) – Johnny says he didn’t believe this scene would make it into the movie and as a result he wasn’t that excited for it.  I love seeing Johnny coaching Jackson on what’s expected of him.  They thought as soon as they heard him the prank would be over.  Johnny exclaims he thinks he could have really talked them into shipping him.  The scene even extends way past what we see in the film.  It’s too bad it didn’t make the cut.
    • The Penguin (HD, 2:27) – This was a late developing idea in the movie filming process.  Jackson was not allowed to be in the car for this stunt and they used a little mannequin in his place.  They were not planning on the man’s hot-headed reaction to the penguin being knocked over.  However, the guy did have a nice sense of humor when it was all over.
    • Wedding Crashers (HD, 3:32) – They do do a mock rehearsal of this stunt.  Johnny talks about how tough this stunt is as he did not want to ruin a bride’s special day.  Luckily, this was kind of all staged as the bride and groom were in on it.  They were not allowed to prank the actual ceremony or ruin the bride’s dress.
    • The Drop Off (HD, 4:28) – They warn Jackson’s father in the film that he was on his own for this scary scene.  If you’ve seen the movie, then you know what I’m talking about with the bar and the biker organization.  Johnny commends the “death angel” dialog.  He says you cannot write lines like this.  They were warned that if a biker takes off his vest, then they are acting on their own.
    • Beauty Pageant (HD, 7:20) – Once again, this one starts with Johnny coaching Jackson.  It’s funny seeing the young lad in his pink dress without the wig.  LOL.  The pageant was all set up, but the contestants and audience were not in on the joke.  They also show Jackson rehearsing the dancing scenes, gestures, etc.  This one’s a classic!  We also get treated to the second half of the scene that was cut from the film where Jackson’s character actually won the pageant, but they do talk about why they decided to end the segment on a high after the “Cherry Pie” song.
  • Alternate Marks (HD, 19:51) – This section is basically your alternate reactions from the real people subjected in these onscreen pranks.  Once again there’s a play all selection too.
    • Meet Billy (HD, 5:43) – Here we see a lot of alternate takes in the scene where we first meet Billy.  I love whenever Jackson asks if you smoke crack.  LOL.
    • Meet Irving (HD, 3:00) – Here’s where we meet Irving in the hospital waiting room where he tells unsuspecting women about his lack of nookie.  LMAO.  “The snake is awake!”  “You girls turn this shrimp into a blimp.”  I love these extras!
    • The Skype Call (HD, 4:15) – Here’s the scene where Irving calls Billy’s father character and the interpreter he uses.  And this guy doesn’t find the father appropriate either.
    • Billy Shops For Parents (HD, 1:47) – Jackson is hilarious the way he interacts with these men about being his dad.  He pulls this stunt on two different men in this featurette.
    • Irving Hits on Women 1 (HD, 3:10) – Irving shows one unlucky woman a magic trick and calls her a low mileage luxury.  And guess what?!  He actually gets her number despite her having a boyfriend and Irving being triple her age!  Wow!
    • Irving Hits on Women 2 (HD, 1:54) – Here are some more attempts, but this time some unsuccessful ones too until a redhead comes along. However, this time Irving doesn’t get the girl.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 6:09) – Here we have three deleted scenes complete with a play all selection too.  Let’s get to it!
    • Street Magician (HD, 2:40) – Irving and Billy try to get people to stop to see a magic trick.  A biker ends up taking the bait.  They steal the guy’s money too.  Haha.  This one should have actually been used in my opinion.  The biker kind of flips out to say the least.  The Lord sees all Johnny.  LOL.
    • Chair Kick (HD, 1:39) – This one showcases Billy trying to knock Irving off the chair and few takes of him breaking legs on different chairs out from under Knoxville.
    • Shopping Cart (HD, 1:49) – Haha.  You know you all want to watch people see an old man getting dumped out of a shopping cart and getting helped back in it, right?
  • DVD (SD, 1:31) – Perhaps you can use this as a frisbee in the back yard or a convenient way for your little ones to enjoy Bad Grandpa in the back seat of the mini van.  The power is yours!
  • Digital HD (HD) – Available via redemption of an enclosed code, one can gain access to and own an Ultraviolet Digital HD copy of the film or the in every way superior iTunes Digital Copy HD version of the film.  Pick your poison!  I redeemed the iTunes version already and although it’s in HD, sadly it’s not the unrated version.  But it’s good enough for me!  I was unable to redeem the UV Digital HD version at the time of this writing, but I did cover it over here in HDX on the PS3 Vudu app and it looks incredible.  Believe me!

And here’s what I love best about the press team for Paramount…the marketing materials they ship consideration product in to us Blu-ray reviewers.  While you won’t be receiving the following items with your Blu-ray purchase of Bad Grandpa, I thought it would be in good taste to show show you how my review copy arrived to me.  Those that have seen the film already should get a chuckle at least.

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The Blu-ray arrived in the following box marked Bingo.  At first I was like WTF?!

Bingo

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Upon opening I found two items.  First…the Bad Grandpa Blu-ray set!

Bad Grandpa Box Art

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And…a bingo marker (not to be confused with a “bingo stamp”)!

Bingo Stamper

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Summary 

So I guess by now you can see I’m a little biased and rounded up here a little.  I can’t help it.  This is one of my guilty pleasures.  I had fun with this Blu-ray release.  I don’t think you really need me to tell you whether or not you’ll like Bad Grandpa.  I think if you’re reading this Blu-ray review right now, you have a pretty good understanding of what you’re getting yourself into here.  It’s comprised of mostly hidden camera and found footage so your results are going to vary greatly in the A/V department, but it’s the heartwarming and ultimately hilarious tale of Irving and his grandson’s adventure together that will hopefully win you over in the long run along with a small helping of supplements and two different cuts of the film also included on this Blu-ray release.  It may not be what dreams are made of, but you didn’t come into this review expecting The Wolf of Wall Street on Blu-ray did you?  I sure hope not!  And if you’re still on the fence, check out the film’s unrated trailer below made solely for this Blu-ray release.

While Bad Grandpa won’t be coming home to the Blu-ray format until January 28th, you can ensure it’s waiting on your doorstep that day for you when you get home from a hard day of work by clicking here to pre-order it at Amazon’s everyday lowest price.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

 

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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