Bizarre Titles with Strangely Placed Colons. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is how everyone is referring to this film. I think Bad Grandpa is good enough, actually, plus that's how Johnny Knoxville always refers to it on Twitter. My bet is that people who loved the television show Jackass want the Jackass in the title in order to remind people about the hilarity in which they are about to partake; people who thought Jackass was stupid want the Jackass in there to remind people that the movie they're about to watch is somehow not a real narrative film.
But, look: August: Osage County is also a ridiculous title. I mean, that colon should probably be a comma, right? But worse than that, what on earth does this title describe? Where and when we are, you might answer. And you'd be right. And that's all good and well for a play that is about life on the plains, a giant house that eats up people's lives and vitriolically spits them out. But it isn't such a great title for a film that categorized itself as a "comedy" for the purposes of the Golden Globe Awards and whose trailer simply contained the most hilarious parts of a rather funny film.
Let's be honest, August: Osage County is a terrible title for a comedy.
Evil Grandparents and Old-Age Makeup. Johnny Knoxville's misbehaving grandpa, Irving Zisman is horrible. He drinks with his grandson, he pulls down his pants at male strip clubs, he dumps his dead wife's corpse into the trunk of his car. He hits on every woman he meets. All of this is a bit in Bad Grandpa. The cameras are watching real people interact with the antics of a grandson and grandfather who do hilariously shocking things and then wait for passersby to be surprised. Would you help a man move his wife's dead body into the trunk? Would you stop a grandfather who is drinking beers with his grandson at the park?
|Ms. Nicholson, Ms. Streep & Ms. Martindale|
The makeup for these two old people is not really comparable, however. Bad Grandpa's is so fantastically good that it doesn't need film lighting or a camera to fool people. This is makeup that is fooling regular people on a sunny day in Tennessee. It is excellent work.
|Mr. Knoxville and Mr. Nicoll|
Like Grandpa's director Jeff Tremaine, August's director John Wells (who also directed the terrible adaptation of Tracy Letts' Killer Joe) is mostly a television director. And it shows. August: Osage County was a play about a house and a family. The play is filled with simultaneous scenes and a big family-style mise en scène, like the portions at Buca Di Beppo. But the film doesn't embrace this idea at all. Not only does Wells not focus on the house as an important plot-point or character motivation (no shots of empty rooms or childhood bedrooms or kitchens or even many of the outside of the house), the film can't find focus. Whose story is this? August is fundamentally confused about this question. This is not a question in the play: it's a play about a house. But Wells doesn't make this a movie about a house, and instead insists on following someone's story. But whose? He never decides.
Bad Grandpa s also a big ol' nasty mess, and it will probably give you exactly what you expect. In truth, it gave me much more than I was expecting. This movie is hilarious. I did the movie up right and went with three straight guys. You should probably also have a beer or two before going. But if you're ready to laugh, Bad Grandpa will not disappoint. The bits are hilarious – even the tired ones. And my companions and I found ourselves anticipating with relish the ridiculous stuff they were going to do. Oh no, oh my lord, no way, we would say to one another, and then slap each other and laugh hysterically. At more than one point the laughter actually took over and we were all a little out of control. This is totally unbridled absurdity at its most shameless.