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Movie Review: ‘Jackass 3D’

October 15, 2010
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It’s almost unnecessary, writing a review for Jackass: Everyone who’s a fan will see it, everyone who isn’t will ignore it, and those who don’t know what it is will run screaming from the theatre long before Steve-O launches a geyser of defecation up onto a quaint, little forest scene.

For the last group, if they’re curious enough to keep reading after that last sentence, Jackass was a show on MTV that featured a handful of professional skateboarders, stuntmen, and fellows crazy and with a high-enough threshold of pain to engage in a series of dangerous and humiliating stunts, ranging from teeballs to the testicles to taunting rams with tubas to drinking the excretions from some of the most unpleasant bodily orifices. Why? Because leader Johnny Knoxville and his band of depraved good spirits have a knack for survival, no shame, and an appreciation that, yes, there is a lowest common denominator, and that it has a lot of appeal.

It’s not really a movie so much as a venue to perform the kinds of stunts that even MTV’s censors would not allow—example: one of the stunts features a crewmember using his genitals to hit a golfball (I wonder how many takes were needed to get that final shot). Another involves copious amounts of dog doo. Still another…

These aren’t really “pranks” in the classical sense because all the abuse is generally directed toward the performers (though there are a few skits that involve a bewildered public—the best of which has token midget Weeman in a barroom brawl). It’s the lowest of low humor and is completely happy with that. If there’s any ounce of artistry to it, it’s in how the entire group can withstand such brutal punishment and come out unscathed.

That should take care of the ignorant. For the nonfans, well, why are you still reading this?

And for the Jackass lovers, myself among them, I can say this is another hilarious installment. The pranks at the public’s expense aren’t as numerous as they were in the original Jackass movie, but the few they did keep in are first rate (especially the one featuring Johnny Knoxville dressed in his old-man makeup, an elderly woman, and a very attractive, very young-looking girl, and titled “really bad grandpa”).

The gang (now pushing their mid-to-late 30s, and maybe some 40-year-olds) is still in top form. Knoxville doesn’t participate too much in the hi-jinx, save a very painful-looking bull-goring and buffalo disco (I’m so happy to have written that); Ryan Dunn seems to have manned-up and doesn’t complain nearly as much; Chris Pontius gets a lot of time to showcase some great wit; and, fresh from rehab and yet still mad as ever, is Steve-O, who participates in the final sketch, which shouldn’t be described even if it could. I’ve never seen such a creative use of the Port-a-Potty.

The 3D doesn’t add a huge amount, but its contributions are pretty ample—especially in the beginning and end scenes. Many of the stunts sort of preclude themselves from the camera angles that would make the 3D effective, but when it’s not there the gags are still funny, and when it is, they’re a deft touch.

Jackass 3D is a good deal grosser than its predecessors, too, and though I’m not too much for gross-out humor, there was only one part where I almost retched (and I’m happy I skipped lunch before going in).

I haven’t seen the other two in a few years, but it also seemed to me that the setups and executions were better than the predecessors. Jackass 3D makes fine use of slow motion to capture every split-second of pain as someone gets doused with water then punched in the face (in a sketch called “Rocky”), and, again, the piling of gag after gag that goes into Weeman’s barfight lingers just long enough for you to think the joke’s over, then adds another huge laugh.

And I’m not alone in my enjoyment. The audience loved it, too (save for one poor girlfriend who kept repeating “Oh, that poor man” like it was a personal mantra). Again, the 3D, when it’s used, is done well, but there are long portions where it’s not used at all. But then, you don’t need to see a giant hand swatting someone in the face in 3D to appreciate it.

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