Bad Grandpa .5 Review: Pretty Darned Bad

The first thing you should know about Bad Grandpa .5 is that it shows up in your iTunes library in the Js. As in Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa.5. I guess you would already know that if you purchased the original Bad Grandpa digitally. Anyway, don’t freak out if you order it and then don’t see it between Bad Boys II and Bad Lieutenant in your library.

The second thing you should know, if you haven’t followed the Jackass .5 series, is that after every Jackass movie, starting with Jackass Number Two, they come out with a brand new release of all the material that didn’t make the final cut. They call it Jackass 2.5, Jackass 3.5, so now it’s Bad Grandpa .5.

Most of the scenes that didn’t make the theatrical Bad Grandpa are pranks that didn’t work. The thing is, with Jackass, a failed stunt is still funny, possibly funnier because it didn’t work. When a prank fails, it just plays to awkward silence. A random hot tub gag made me laugh out loud, and it is the simplest, least sophisticated thing they could do, but it worked. It probably wasn’t used because they have another joke in the movie that’s essentially the same thing, but it’s still funny. The rest may have shown some promise, but once you see it play out it doesn’t qualify as a whole second movie.

Because most of the new material consists of failed bits, the filmmakers have to explain what the intention was and set up the scene for when we see the failed reaction. This was also true of the Jackass .5 films, but it was more appropriate in Jackass because those movies are simply compilations of stunts. Bad Grandpa had the pretense of forwarding a story, so Bad Grandpa .5 is just random failed scenes that don’t even form a plot.

Exclusive Clip: Watch the three-minute “Casino Viagra” scene from Bad Grandpa .5

It is interesting to see what didn’t work. Sometimes Johnny Knoxville had to work too hard to antagonize people so it was inorganic. Hiring legitimate babysitters didn’t work because they would fulfill their obligation no matter how badly Irving Zisman (Knoxville) behaved. One prank was so creepy they couldn’t even get its victims to sign release forms. Seeing the extended confusion over whether to roll the window up or down in a driving stunt illustrates how technical even the silliest pranks are, but it’s not material for a new film.

We do get to see the entirety of Catherine Keener and Spike Jonze’s characters who were mostly cut out of the film. Keener played Irving’s dead wife, and I don’t know how they thought all of these scenes when she was still alive would fit before the plot of the movie kicked in. Keener wasn’t even doing an old lady voice, but her improv was strong.  Jonze played Gloria, his character from previous “Jackass” episodes, who would be an old high school flame of Irving’s. Most of the pranks they pulled with Gloria had concepts too big. It becomes clear that the simpler ones get bigger reactions. There is very little material with Billy (Jackson Nicoll) in Bad Grandpa .5 so most of his stuff worked and ended up in the theatrical film.

I don’t think the material in Bad Grandpa .5 is worthy of a separate purchase or even rental. It belongs as a bonus feature on the Bad Grandpa DVD, though I imagine they couldn’t have cut it all together in time for that release. At least they have the decency to make it a digital release, but the Jackass .5 follow-ups were actually as funny as the theatrical releases. Franchise Fred is all about keeping the tradition going, and I guess I’d still be curious about new deleted material regardless of my own negative review. Why is it .5 though? Shouldn’t it be 1.5? 

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.