Directed by: Jeff Tremaine
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Catherine Keener, Spike Jonze,
To tell the truth I’ve never been a fan of Johnny Knoxville’s Jack Ass shtick. For whatever reason this didn’t keep me from watching Bad Grandpa and to my surprise I enjoyed it. It was funny and in its own sick little way it was sweet and heartwarming. So it was with mixed feelings that I picked up Bad Grandpa.5. From looking at the Blu-Ray copy it appeared that Knoxville and company had managed to take some deleted scenes and maybe some new footage and slap together a new Bad Grandpa story. Luckily I was wrong.
What Bad Grandpa.5 is, is the bonus features disc for Bad Grandpa. The feature is an hour and half documentary about the Old Man character, which developed into Irving Zisman. Not being a fan of Jack Ass this was all new to me. It is actually interesting watching how the character evolved from an old man falling down awkwardly in front of people to the Irving who at the end of Bad Grandpa goes back for his grandson Billy. As the character evolved the makeup did as well. Looking at the old Jackass clips it’s a credit to Knoxville that he ever fooled anyone.
In ways Bad Granda.5 is more interesting than Bad Grandpa. It really drives home how much work this kind of production takes. There is a lot of new footage that ends up getting shown and it’s mostly from two whole story lines that were completely cut from Bad Grandpa. One story line introduces us to Ellie, Irving’s wife who had already passed when we first meet her in Bad Grandpa. Catherine Keener plays Ellie and while she is a master of improvisation the behind the scenes stuff makes it appear that she was distinctly uncomfortable with this type of stunt filming. The other storyline gives Irving a love interest in Gloria, who is played by his fellow producer Spike Jonze. Spike attacks the scenarios with the same gusto that Knoxville does and it must have been painful to cut their scenes even though they don’t really fit with the story that Bad Grandpa became.
Obviously this kind of filmmaking is a lot of work. You have to hide multiple cameras and microphones and keep them hidden and unmolested in public environments. Then you’ve got to wrangle strangers into doing something entertaining. Until watching this I didn’t grasp how rough the hit/miss ration is for each vignette. After getting all set up and Knoxville in makeup, the crew might shoot the same scenario all day with different marks and still not end up with anything useful. Or even worse shoot something and then not get anyone to sign a release, which means that they are not going to be able to use the footage without hiding the individuals identity, which might work for a making of documentary like Bad Grandpa.5, but they would never get away with for Bad Grandpa. There is plenty of commentary from everyone involved filling in detail and telling anecdotes from the filming.
I liked Bad Grandpa.5 but it’s got a limited audience. Anybody who’s ever watched Jackass and wondered how they got away with it will get some of the answers from Bad Grandpa.5 outside of that it should be interesting to anyone just generally interested in filmmaking, and I imagine it would appeal to Jackass and Johnny Knoxville fans.
The video is presented in 1080p and as you might expect the quality is variable. Many of the interior scenes that are shot with just available light are grainy, sometimes really grainy and the color is flat. Even when there is good light the shots might be compromised by light reflections from glass they are forced to shoot through or other problems. Objectively the video quality is poor but considering the conditions they are working under it’s about as good as anybody could expect.
The audio is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. There are subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The same audio suffers from the same afflictions as the video. Objectively the audio is not great but it’s about as good as anybody could expect and vitally the dialog is always clear and understandable.
The Extras and Bonus Features
The Blu-Ray disc comes in a standard Blu-Ray plastic case with a cardboard slipcase. The copy does not make it clear that what you are getting is in essence a making of video of Bad Grandpa. Inside the case is a redemption code for either an Ultraviolet digital copy or an iTunes digital copy. On the disc are interviews with Knoxville, Jonze and Tremaine, a featurette about casting Jackson Nicoll who plays the grandson Billy, and a collection of deleted scenes and outtakes, a fair amount of extra material for a making of feature.