School of hard

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES -

JOHNNY Knoxville might be play­ing an ine­bri­ated oc­to­ge­nar­ian in his lat­est fi lm, Bad Grandpa, but that doesn’t mean the Jack­ass star is go­ing soft.

“We’re still up for it,” the 42- year- old dare­devil said of the bruis­ing stunt­work that has driven his fran­chise for more than a decade.

“[ Fel­low pro­duc­ers] Derek [ Freda] and Jeff [ Tre­maine] cer­tainly are, be­cause I’m the one do­ing them,” he added.

Knoxville said there was less self- pun­ish­ment in Bad Grandpa sim­ply be­cause the hu­mour had to serve an over­ar­ch­ing nar­ra­tive.

Un­like its episodic pre­de­ces­sors, the fourth fi lm in the Jack­ass fran­chise fol­lows a con­ven­tional sto­ry­line with a cen­tral pro­tag­o­nist, 86- year- old Irv­ing Zis­man, who is based, in part, on Knoxville’s father.

“I hope I have Irv­ing’s spirit when I get to be that age. But a lot of the things he does you might get ar­rested for,” said Knoxville, who en­dured three hours’ make- up each day for the role.

When Zis­man’s daugh­ter is jailed for drug pos­ses­sion, the un­re­con­structed and re­cently wid­owed mis­chief- maker trav­els from Ne­braska to North Carolina to dump his grand­son Billy ( Jack­son Ni­coll) on his even less child- friendly son- in- law.

“We had a lot of stunts writ­ten, but we al­ways back- end those, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons,” said Knoxville, who has suf­fered many bro­ken bones and con­cus­sions as a re­sult of his very phys­i­cal quest to de­liver au­di­ence sat­is­fac­tion.

“By then, we just didn’t need them. Ev­ery­body was re­spond­ing to the grandpa/ grand­son re­la­tion­ship.”

Bad Grandpa might start out in the vein of a con­fronta­tional, take- no- pris­on­ers guerilla com­edy such as Bo­rat or Bruno, but by the time Zis­man and his grand­son reach the end of their rau­cous, bound­ary- test­ing jour­ney, one could ar­gue the fi lm has more in com­mon with the feel- good Pixar fan­tasy Up.

De­spite the rel­a­tive lack of per­sonal in­juries sus­tained in this par­tic­u­lar fi lm, Knoxville said Bad Grandpa was far from a risk- free project.

“Pub­lic pranks are the tough­est thing we do by far and to have a whole movie based on that – well, it’s prob­a­bly one of the least safe ideas we have ever had.”

Hurt­ing your­self is one thing. In­jur­ing an un­sus­pect­ing by­stander is some­thing else en­tirely.

The scene in which Zis­man is hur­tled through a plate- glass win­dow by an out- of- con­trol kid­die ride, for in­stance, would prob­a­bly be de­scribed as an oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety night­mare.

But given time to re­cover, the vic­tims usu­ally prove re­mark­ably good sports.

To be on the safe side, Jack­ass em­ploys a skilled team of ne­go­tia­tors to help their post- prank subjects re­gain their sense of hu­mour and give the fi lm­mak­ers per­mis­sion to use the raw footage they have cap­tured.

Given the suc­cess of Bad Grandpa, which pushed Grav­ity from the No. 1 spot at the US box offi ce in its open­ing week­end, is there a good chance we can ex­pect more nar­ra­tive­based en­coun­ters from the Jack­ass team?

“It was tough be­cause it was our fi rst time,” Knoxville said.

“We didn’t know how the hy­brid thing was go­ing to turn out there for a lit­tle while.

“But now we have done it, I think we could do it again.”

JACK­ASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA Now show­ing Vil­lage Cin­e­mas

BY VICKY ROACH FOR YOUNG AND OLD: Jack­son Ni­coll and Johnny Knoxville star in Bad Grandpa.

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