Jackass the Movie

My Rating:

That's entertainment, after a style.
Add 1/2 star if you are totally into this kind of stuff (you know who you are). Then tattoo an extra star on your nipple.
Subtract 1/2 star for a weak stomach or for a disposition against stupidity for entertainment purposes.

Bitable Bytes:
"Sophomoric, Dangerous, Painful!"
"Sell[s] as Entertainment!"
"...Very Funny!"
"The Miracle That Cinema Was Invented to Deliver!"

What to do while watching:
The film is made of short vignettes, so you can take as many breaks from the movie as you like to pursue whatever other projects you need to pursue, as long as your total viewing time does not exceed your total rental time and/or willingness to pay overdue charges.

What to eat while watching:
Not a good idea.

It's a sad state of affairs when the world of entertainment is reduced to this kind of juvenile, disgusting toilet humor! Just kidding. Entertainment like Jackass the Movie has existed since monkeys developed opposable thumbs and found they could hurl their dung at one another.

Curiosity got the best of me. I really hadn't heard anything about the film since it hit theaters, positive or negative, and anyway I don't pay much attention to hype. When I do, I always regret it--like the day after Chicago won best picture, 2003. I went to see it, only to find incredible production values on a meager, morally questionable tale of characters who have no arcs and no redeeming qualities. All that hype for cutout caricatures under million-dollar lights? Feh. As for Talk To Her--that's a great film!

No, it wasn't hype that got Jackass the Movie into my VCR. It was curiosity. The film's notoriety relies on a cultish understanding of what it will deliver. Either you know, or you don't. If you're of the right demographic, you may have seen Johnny Knoxville on his MTV show, doing sophomoric, dangerous, painful stunts akin to those in the movie. I'm not in that demographic, personally, so my curiosity was piqued second-hand through mentions on the Howard Stern Show, which I listen to sporadically. (I find him somewhat funny, but I can't stand his politics.)

For those who don't know what Jackass is all about, it's basically a group of guys who do sick, drunken-frat-boy-style stunts. The eight or nine guys all play up their own stupidity, their willingness to injure themselves for laughs, but at least Knoxville, the "brains" behind the outfit, has some real savvy about what is going to sell as entertainment.

Here are a few of the stunts depicted in the film.
A guy gets a baby alligator to chomp down on his nipple.
Another guy gets a baby shark to bite his arm.
Several guys zoom around in golf carts, wrecking them and hurting themselves.
A guy pole-vaults into a sewage canal, then throws up.
A guy goes into a hardware store and relieves himself in a showroom toilet.
A bunch of guys give each other paper cuts.
A guy snorts wasabe up his nose, then throws up.
A guy has a picture of himself tattooed on his back.
Several guys dress up as Pandas and rampage through a mall in Japan.
A guy with an electric hair trimmer sneaks up on people and buzzes bald spots into their heads.
A guy kicks himself in the nose.

Interior: a guy bounces off a small trampoline into a spinning ceiling fan, then falls onto a table, wrecking both.

Johnny Knoxville, in what is perhaps the headline stunt, has a guy shoot him in the stomach with a beanbag bullet.

It goes on and on. Some things were very funny. Others were just gross. Some stunts were even rather dull, and some were pointless. Frankly, it's hit and miss, and what you take away is purely dependent on your own taste for this kind of lowest-common-denominator humor. Many people will find the entire thing a waste of time. Others may believe this film to be the miracle that cinema was invented to deliver.

Those of the youth demographic at whom this film is aimed may not even realize that there are many films with a similar flavor, going back at least to Mondo Cane from 1963 and the entire Mondo series of "shockumentaries" that followed. Faces of Death also comes to mind; as well as the sub-genre of films intended purely to gross out an audience, of which Pink Flamingos is probably the best example and Freddy Got Fingered among the worst.

The video offers about a forty minutes of additional material including the stunts and clips that didn't make it into the movie. It also includes many outtakes. And a music video. The DVD promises even more extras, which will come as exciting news to those who love the film so much that they'd also be delighted to sit through all the boring, poorly conceived, and badly shot segments that weren't good enough to make it into the film.

There's a subtle ironic humor in including outtakes in a film that's basically about people purposefully falling down, breaking things over their own heads, hurting themselves, vomiting (there's a lot of that), and blundering about. It's as though there was an almost intentional comment on how silly it is to show clips of flubbed lines, where the lines are entirely immaterial. Except I don't think the movie's producers thought that hard. Instead, I get the sense that these guys are really pretty taken with themselves. How else to explain the overlong trailer for the fictional sequel, or the music video shot entirely at the wrap party?

A subtler humor writer would have created outtakes like a guy letting some baby reptile bite him on the hinder only to find that the critter hasn't developed teeth yet. "Hey! That doesn't hurt at all!"
If your curiosity is piqued by all this, you will probably find a few out-loud laughs in this film. If you're repulsed, please don't rent it just to prove to yourself how repulsive it is. And if you're nonplussed, you're probably right.

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For your collection: Jackass the Movie (DVD), Jackass the Movie (VHS)

Gooden's Listening To: Jay McShann: Hot Biscuits Essential Jay McShann

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