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A typical Jackass moment

2 out of 4 stars


Now a decade old, the Jackass series performs a beneficial public service: Eager performers … no, better to call them exhibitionists, make idiots of themselves on screen so that their audience counterparts can sit smug and safe in a darkened theatre, feeling better with every passing minute about their own lives.

Hey, I might be flunking Calculus, young viewers tell themselves, but at least I'm not letting someone swing a dead mackerel in my face. Or eating gassy legumes in an effort to propel a wind-powered dart gun.

This being a family newspaper, we won't get into Jackass 3-D's dizzying heli-cockter camera. And good taste dictates that we shouldn't venture far into the stunt involving a naked fat man, a red apple and what looks to be a famished pig, except to say that it marks the horrifying spot where Deadwood meets Deliverance.

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For the uninitiated, Jackass started as a series on MTV - kind of a spinoff on David Letterman's Late Night Stupid Pet Tricks segment. Except instead of dogs and cats, freshman and sophomores were doing the goofing around.

Each successive episode, every movie, has been an attempt at lowering the ante, so here we are in Jackass 3-D, catapulting a portable toilet a hundred feet in the air with a helmeted, magazine-reading rider aboard. Another sequence features dopes playing tetherball with an angry beehive.

Giving these frat-house follies a thin veneer of sophistication is the remarkably unconcerned master of ceremonies, Johnny Knoxville. Like Tim Matheson's cheerfully corrupt fraternity rush chairman, Otter Stratton in Animal House, Knoxville is here to coax fools into dangerous trouble, then walk away, whistling.

Are any of his stunts funny? Yes, one scene is worthy of Borat and Mack Sennett's Keystone Kops. Two little people, a man and a woman, walk into a real bar and order drinks. Then her equally diminutive husband shows. The two men get into a fight, while hidden cameras pick up bar regulars, non-actors all, looking around, stupefied.

Cops burst in - more tiny talent - and suddenly five wind-milling fights are going on. The kicker: When the skirmishes get out of hand, onlookers are astonished to see a crew of paramedics race in with stretchers. Yep, more little people.

As you might guess, Jackass is a guy thing. Knoxville's gang doesn't include women. These guys are all crowding 40. Still, we don't see any girlfriends or wives around. Just an occasional nurse slapping on a Band-Aid.

All of which begs at the question: How long can these guys keep Jackassing around? Will Johnny Knoxville still be happy superglueing fat guys into submarine sandwiches at age 50? After all, even Otter Stratton eventually found his calling - making the world a better place by working as a Hollywood gynecologist.

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Jackass 3D

  • Directed by Jeff Tremaine
  • Starring Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Jason "Weeman" Acuña and Steve-O
  • Classification: 18A
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