The Jackass crew didn't get the respect they deserve from most "real" cinema types because they came across as a bunch of punk-ass skateboarder types with little respect for anything, least of all themselves. It's pretty bang-on, but Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam, Ryan Dunn, Jeff Tremaine and crew were also fearless students of physical comedy who pulled inspiration from everything from the Looney Tunes to the Three Stooges to Whistler's own Whiskey snowboard videos. Some pranks were better than others, but the crew built an empire on stupid fun and the evolution continues this week with Bad Grandpa, opening Friday at the Whistler Village 8.
Johnny Knoxville slides back into old-timer makeup to play Irving Zisman, a crotchety 86-year-old thrust into a cross-country road trip with his 8-year-old grandson. Bad Grandpa is one of those half-scripted prank films that relies on hidden cameras and real-life situations and people (like Borat). Knoxville and his "grandson" (Jackson Nicoll — killing it) lampoon their culture with all sorts of hijinks including lots of dick jokes and the kid performing a strip show in drag at a beauty pageant.
Bad Grandpa is crude and juvenile but the candid-camera element works more than it doesn't and the plotted emotional bonding between a juvenile grandpa and a kid forced to grow up quick actually carries the picture pretty well. Much like Wile E Coyote, the Jackasses aren't so easy to get rid of.
On the other end of the spectrum, Pulitzer-prize winning author Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) hops into the screenwriting game this week, joining forces with Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Domino) and an all-star cast for The Counsellor, also opening Friday.
No pre-screenings on this one, but it seems to be a dark-and-daring mystery/thriller about a respected lawyer who does one little shady deal with some even shadier characters then watches his life go to shit. With a cast including Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, and Javier Bardem it's safe to say this one will be worth checking out. Ridley Scott's crappiest action movies are better than the Hollywood average. (Domino is the download of the week).
On Oct. 30 the local film scene gets tossed back into the meat grinder with The Return of Heavy Hitting HorrorFest. All the usual suspects are on board and out for blood including perennial best-actress Sharai Rewels, uber-prolific Angie Nolan, Dark Prince of Cinema Conrad Shapansky, big-time local success story Peter Harvey, Stu Mackay-Smith, Chili Thom, Miles Wilkinson and Mexi-Canadian gore queen Gigi Saul Guerrero, who is coming in hot with a stripper revenge flick that will make Tarantino proud. The local talent is also joined by films from Brazil, Spain, Chicago and Toronto. The Return of HorrorFest is sold out so if you have a ticket come early and bring your ID. There will be blood.
Halloween night also features a special screening of Ender's Game at 8 p.m. in the Village 8. Based on some kind of worldwide best-seller book this one looks like a near-future alien-war/space adventure for kids. All the hopes of humanity rest on the shoulders of a shy-but-brilliant teen who has to lead the charge against a hoarde of PG-13 aliens. One cool thing is Ender's Game puts Harrison Ford back behind the controls of a spaceship but I'm not sure how many kids are going to give up on trick-or-treating to go watch it on Thursday night. Probably plays next week too.
Happy Halloween everyone — drive slow, play safe, party on.