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With Bad Grandpa, the Jackass-inspired film that hits theaters on Friday, Johnny Knoxville and director Jeff Tremaine confronted challenges they’d never before encountered in making the vignette-based Jackass movies.
“We were probably crazy to do it,” Knoxville told The Hollywood Reporter of the decision to make a narrative movie about an 86-year-old man (played by Knoxville in makeup) on a cross-country road trip with his 8-year-old grandson and the inappropriate things they do.
“This movie is just a terrible idea on a production standpoint,” Tremaine added before Monday night’s screening in New York. “Knoxville has to go through three-and-a-half hours of makeup before we even start rolling. We have a little boy that has a ton of restrictions on the hours he can work and what you can do with him. It’s all hidden camera. We never came up with a way to have cameras out. And then when we get people to star in our movie who hadn’t planned on starring in a movie that day, they have to be cool with it. All those things make this a terrible idea. But we pulled it off, we figured it out.”
Indeed, the movie features a number of public pranks, including Knoxville’s character being launched through a store window when a sidewalk ride seemingly malfunctions and the grandson, played by the precocious Jackson Nicoll, taking part in a little girls’ beauty pageant, complete with a raunchy talent-show performance of “Cherry Pie.”
“Public pranks are the toughest thing to do and this whole movie is based on public pranks and reactions,” Knoxville told THR. “It was a really ambitious thing to pursue, and we were very hesitant at first but it turned out great.”
Viacom Media Networks Music & Logo Group president Van Toffler, whose MTV Films made the movie, doesn’t think that the proliferation of viral videos and Jackass-like stunts will diminish this movie’s appeal.
“I think these knuckleheads tap into the zeitgeist of what it’s like to be a rebellious adolescent,” Toffler said. “That’s not going to change regardless of the fact that everyone can shoot a prank anywhere around the world.”
The film also has an unusual genesis, with Tremaine saying they never thought of it as a substitute or an alternative to Jackass.
“This was something we started doing, really after the second Jackass movie, we wondered if we could spring Irving [Knoxville’s character] out just as its own idea and we didn’t take it serious back then and then about two years ago, Paramount brought it back up to us,” Tremaine explained. “We started writing this story out and it just seemed like a real challenge that we were up for to tell a long-form story instead of a series of vignettes like Jackass, so it’s more of just a fun challenge for us.”
Along the way, Knoxville met Nicoll through his work on the movie Fun Size and saw an evil genius.
“As soon as I met him, I started insulting him, punching him, calling him names, but he liked it,” Nicoll explained of his first interaction with Knoxville. “He went back to his office and said, ‘I found the perfect kid. He is evil!’ So now I’m here.”
On Monday, a new, red-band trailer for the film also debuted online. Watch the uncensored look at the Bad Grandpa hijinks below.
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