Is Bad Grandpa a documentary? That’s not easy to determine. There is definitely a lot of reality and real people involved in the new movie from Johnny Knoxville and the makers of Jackass (the films of which I’d say are without a doubt docs), but there’s also more fictional plot and character than truth. The documentary material is confined to a few shocked expressions in Candid Camera-type scenarios with the occasional longer moment involving genuine people.

For me, the conclusion lies in what the film means to show us. If it’s a statement about truth, then it’s a documentary. If it’s just an excuse for laughs with little insight into anything real or arguable, then it’s not. Bad Grandpa is mostly a fiction with some nonfiction people roped in, not unlike Forrest Gump only with newly shot rather than archival material.

To contrast it with more qualified examples, as in those with predominantly real situations, I decided to highlight some genuine documentaries centered around fictional characters devised to illustrate, provoke or prank the real world and real people.


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