Earlier, I wrote a review of Stand by Me and the beautiful, unparalleled bonding that occurs in one’s formative years. Well, one of the quintessential parts of my formative years with my friends was watching a bunch of jackasses do ridiculous stunts and prank each other. That came in the form of MTV’s television series, Jackass, in 2000, followed by the subsequent films in 2002, 2006, 2010, and the most recent one from this year, Jackass Forever. (There were other films and TV spinoffs, but I’m not sure I’ve seen them.) Heck, I even enjoyed the spin-off show with Bam Margera, who was my favorite of the cast besides Johnny Knoxville, called Viva La Bam.
Also, I didn’t realize until this latest film that Spike Jonze was a a big part of the Jackass franchise. He’s obviously been a very successful director and writer in his own right, so to know that he also enjoys dipping his toes in the porta potty cesspool that is Jackass, is awesome.
These guys, Knoxville, Bam, Steve-O, Ryan Dunn, “Wee Man”, Chris Pontius, Dave England and others, were the 2000s. They were my childhood. When the movies started coming out in 2002, they were event films for my friends and I. To just laugh and have a good time. To see what crazy shenanigans they could come up with this time. To be dudes watching other dudes be dumb dudes.
It’s crazy to think that Jackass Forever brings the band back together 20 years after the first film, except for Dunn, who was killed in a crash in 2011, and Bam, who still is dealing with substance abuse issues. When that classic theme song hits and Knoxville goes, “Hi, I’m Johnny Knoxville, welcome to Jackass!” I get all the nostalgic feels and I’m getting goosebumps even typing it out now!
We’re getting old and they’re getting old. Knoxville even unabashedly sports the grey hair at various points in the new movie. He is 50-years-old, after all. Steve-O is 47-years-old. Pontius, who still has no shame about showing his penis or drinking pig cum (yes), is 47-years-old, too.
But we also get some new blood (literally) that the old Jackass crew tries to pass the baton to, including Zach Holmes (he had one of the funniest bits trying to escape what he thought was a loose rattlesnake inside a dark room), Jasper Dolphin (and his dad, Dark Shark, which made for some hilarious bits of this “gangster” being scared), Poopies, (who I thought seemed the most natural fit with the Jackass vibe), and Rachel Wolfson (who had some of the most impressive stunts in the film, licking an electrical current and then taking a scorpion’s sting multiple times on her lip).
For the most part, I like to think I’m brave and would be wild enough to try some of these stunts, but the ones I absolutely would never do: Anything that involves me having to show my penis and/or getting it wrecked, as there are a lot of penis-related gags, like Steve-O having his penis covered (and stung by) bees, or Ehren having his penis repeatedly beaten (PHRASING) by athletes to where his scrotum even bleeds, or Pontius putting his in a vice, flattening it, or Poopies and others getting their penis whacked with device when they got a trivia question wrong.
And of course, in a hilarious opening shot, they do a tribute to kaiju movies, with Pontius’ penis painted green, as it invades a small city until it gets bit by a snapping turtle. Great miniature modeling! Of the city, I mean.
The other stunts I couldn’t do involve spiders and other insects of that nature. Heck, I think I’d rather deal with the bear while I’m covered in honey and salmon, as Ehren does at one point (and the bear isn’t chained or anything!) than deal with scorpions or spiders or bees. Or drinking pig cum.
But the actual physical stuff? Going down a big slip-‘n-side, jumping into a bed of cactuses, going full speed with a bike into a fake wall, being shot off a ramp with industrial fans, and so on, don’t seem that bad to me! I mean, they seem very bad, don’t me wrong; I’ll say, doable. They seem more doable in comparison to the aforementioned penis and scary insects ones.
Actually, let’s add in the vulture among those stunts I wouldn’t partake in. Wee Man was tied down with things of meat on his body and a vulture was loosed on him. Uh, that thing was terrifying! I think I’d be braver than Dark Shark and let it stand on my arm, but the way that thing was moving was pretty freaky!
I just loved Jackass Forever. It was fun nostalgia, hilarious gags (one of the funniest that comes to mind is the musical chairs game they played, with the catch that one of the chairs will “blow up” on one of the players, but of course, the gag is that all the chairs blow up, with Wee Man’s sending him backward over the chair) and stunts that made me cringe in the best way. The YouTube generation that came in the wake of Jackass obviously imitated the idea of gags, pranks and outrageous stunts, but the one thing they didn’t imitate that they ought to have is that the Jackass guys aren’t mean-spirited. It’s all fun. It’s all for a good time. And everyone wants to be there. They rarely rope in the unsuspecting. The pranks you sometimes see on YouTube are absolutely mean-spirited because they lean more into mean pranks that rope in the unsuspected, and therefore, they are not something I enjoy watching.
Also, for the record, you gotta give the Jackass guys some credit. The creativity and ingenuity it takes to come up with these stunts and to figure out how to (relatively safely) pull them off is a thing of beauty. (Seriously, I’d love the engineering behind how they made that hole for Preston Lacy’s testicles, so they could be pounded by a punching bag.)
The hardest stunt to watch was actually Knoxville gamely taking on a bull again, reminiscent of a prior movie’s stunt, but he’s older and I’m not sure able to shake it off the same way. He ends up getting gored hard, flipping up and over and getting a bad concussion, along with other injuries. Ever the performer, though, he gamely says (to paragraph), “I guess that bull didn’t like magic.”
It’s hard watching our heroes, even small-time heroes like a Johnny Knoxville of Jackass, get old. That you know, despite the name of the movie, that they can’t keep doing this forever. But what is forever is the friendship bonds over being stupid, harmless jackasses together.
If you want a nostalgic trip that will make you wince and laugh and be sad when the end credits come, then go see Jackass Forever before it leaves theaters.