You’ve got to give the guys of “Jackass the Movie” credit for one thing (even if you don’t give them credit for anything else), and that’s their total commitment to making complete fools of themselves. That, and the fact that they’re willing to suffer through bodily injury of every kind imaginable (from alligator bites to self-inflicted paper cuts to shoving a toy car up their rectum) in order to entertain you. Or, if you really want to get technical about it, to entertain each other.
“Jackass” is the feature-length version of the popular (and much criticized) MTV TV show where a team of male 20-somethings, led by actor Johnny Knoxville (“Men in Black 2”) and Steve-O, a kid known most for stapling his scrotum to his thigh, go out of their way to do stupid stunts in order to be on TV. Needless to say, there is no inherent value to the film other than to laugh at the sheer stupidity of Knoxville and crew. The movie is one big clip show, with the boys doing one stunt after another. No one is safe, including unwitting Japanese citizens or sea life of every type or even Sunday golfers.
For the most part Knoxville and his boys inflict pain on themselves, and this, not surprisingly, makes up the funniest segments of the movie. The movie turns into a second-rate Tom Green skit whenever it returns to a kid whose idea of being creative is finding different way to torture his poor parents. (And really, if you should ever find yourself being compared to Tom Green, you’re in a world of trouble.) It’s any wonder that the kid’s parents have yet to cut him into little pieces and adopt someone who is more mentally stable.
“Jackass” is a comedy skit movie, pure and simple. The whole thing is shot with video cameras and handheld camcorders, the kind used to film skateboarding shows on ESPN. There isn’t any great quality to the images either, and the film’s listing of a director and cinematographer, at the very least, is a goof.
If watching 20-somethings attempting to vault over volleyball nets or urinate on an ice cream cone and then eat it is your cup of tea, then this movie is for you. It’s all done for laughs, giving the phrase “the lowest common denominator” a whole new meaning. The Japanese segments are quite funny, and so is one where Knoxville takes on boxer Butterbean in, of all places, a department store. The result? Butterbean knocks Knoxville down so hard that Knoxville smashes his head into the concrete floor and has to get stitches.
There is nothing about “Jackass” that would lead you to believe the people doing these stunts will be alive 5 to 10 years from now. Or even if they are alive, will be in one piece, or be able to remember their names for longer than 2 seconds at a time. Then again, you gotta hand it to a group of guys who are willing to let a stranger shoot them in the stomach with a riot-control gun or get a tattoo while riding in a hummer in the desert. Those things take guts. That, or a lot of liquid courage.
Jeff Tremaine (director)
CAST: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Dave England, Ryan Dunn, Spike Jonze