“Jackass: Bad Grandpa,” the fourth film from the franchise, will be filled with all of the crass hidden camera debauchery that we’ve come to know and love, with a bit more direction than the previous “Jackass” films.
Set to be released on Oct. 25, “Bad Grandpa” follows 86-year-old Irving Zisman, played by Johnny Knoxville, who goes on a cross-country road trip with his 8-year-old grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll). In between ridiculous pranks and stunts, there is a plot about Zisman and Billy.
“I think you’ll be surprised at how much you’re going to be invested in the relationship between me and my grandson,” said Knoxville during a phone conference. “There’s a loose narrative in the movie, taking my grandson across the country, deliver him to his father and across the way, we prank people.”
“Bad Grandpa” has been in the works for quite some time with the idea being brought up years ago, but Knoxville didn’t see much potential in it at the time. But once it got going, it took over a year for Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze and Knoxville to write it, and the filming process took 10 months.
Setup took a long time because the movie doesn’t just have a few sets – cameras were hidden in vans, baby strollers and purses, and when the pranks took place inside a business, they would install two-way mirrors the night before.
Prior to shooting, Knoxville spent three hours in makeup for his face and five hours for skits that involved him being shirtless.
“I started looking forward to it because I could spend those three hours in the chair thinking about what we are doing that day and writing and thinking about the scenario we’re going to try, and just try to troubleshoot every possible thing that could happen,” Knoxville said. “So if something happens, I’m one step ahead. So that was actually very beneficial.”
At one point in the film, Zisman decides that he doesn’t feel like taking Billy across the country and decides to ship him instead, not on a plane but in a cardboard box.
“Before the prank, I’m like ‘Okay. This one is way, way in left field.’ Nobody is going to fall for this or buy it,” said Knoxville. “But we found two ladies in North Carolina. I was pranking them for 30 minutes and I had to stop because I didn’t know what else to do. It was a really unbelievable reaction.”
Since Zisman is a staple character for anyone who has seen any of the “Jackass” films, Knoxville and the rest of the crew make a point to try not to waste their time pranking someone who knows that Zisman is just Knoxville in makeup. They even ask the owners of businesses in which they’re pranking employees not to have people who are known “Jackass” fans work that day, to make sure the prank isn’t given away.
Knoxville cannot get enough of Nicholl, the kid who plays his grandson Billy, who in the trailer dressed as a girl in a beauty pageant and performed a hilarious stripper routine.
“He is 8 years old and completely fearless,” he said. “And sometimes, if we were pranking someone and we didn’t get the desired result, he would yell an insult at them as they walk away. He’s unbelievable. I can’t wait for you guys to see Jackson.”
A father of three and a family man himself, Knoxville doesn’t exactly see himself as Zisman in the future.
“I hope that I’ll be a much better grandfather than Irving Zisman, but hopefully I’m years away from being a grandfather,” he said. “But I won’t be downing beers with my grandchildren. But my body is so banged up that I almost walk like Irving anyway.”
The “Jackass” franchise has always been in good fun. Well, except for the time a man named Jack Ass, who blamed them for ruining his credibility and good name, sued them.
“That actually happened,” said Knoxville. “You can look it up.”
They’re not trying to shock people or push boundaries. They’re just trying to make everyone laugh.
So, is “Jackass” nearing the end? After the show ended in 2002, they said they were done with the stunts and antics. Then, two movies later, they said they were done.
“So, now we’re not going to say ‘No, we’re not doing anything else,’ because then we just look like assholes a third time,” said Knoxville. “What brings us back, I love it. We love it. We enjoy what we do and that’s what keeps bringing it back.”
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