REVIEW: Jackass 3D Is More of the Same -- And Still Hilarious
There really is no reason for Jackass 3D to be in 3-D. Then again, there really is no reason for Jackass 3D to even exist, since we probably don't need to see grown men, often dressed in their scanties, execute death-defying and/or genuinely dumb stunts with snappy names like "Beehive Tetherball," "Sweatsuit Cocktail" and "Lamborghini Toothpull." We don't need to see them kicked in the nuts by pissed-off donkeys, tossed into the air by bucking bulls, or play the trumpet through their asses.
OK, we really don't need to see grown men playing trumpet through their asses. And yet -- why is it I cannot resist the Jackass clarion call? The Jackass movies blossomed, like a flowering plant from the derriere of a nudie in a Hieronymous Bosch painting, from the MTV series of the same name, which aired from 2000 to 2002. The first Jackass movie featured the actor Johnny Knoxville and a crew of skateboard pros and other daredevil types like Bam Margera, Steve-O, and the 4-foot-7 dynamo who goes by Wee Man (though his real name is Jason Acuña) shooting themselves out of cannons, dodging angry livestock and, occasionally, throwing up on-camera. The second entry in the series, Jackass Number Two, featured pretty much more of the same, as well as one particular little ditty of a gag that I hope never again to see in my life (in which Steve-O allows a live leech to be applied to his eyeball).
Jackass 3D is, yet again, more of the same, except in 3-D -- which means when the guys launch their dildo slingshot, a big, rubber you-know-what is coming straight at ya. Like its forerunners, Jackass 3D is horrifying, indefensible, and hilarious. Many fans of the movies, myself included, have struggled to find some sort of intellectual frame of reference to help us justify our love for them. I've stood around with groups of film critics who've jawed on about the movies' homoerotic subtext (these really are a bunch of guys together outrageously), or about their specific niche in the canon of Three Stooges-style humor, or about what they're really trying to say about the human condition.
In the end, though, we just throw up our hands: The Jackass movies are a barely explicable universe unto themselves. It's possible that they tease out whatever smug superiority we may be harboring deep within: We are, after all, being enticed to laugh at a bunch of guys stupid enough to do things we'd never attempt ourselves, like allow a remote-control helicopter to be attached by a wire to our penis (which is something, were I to have a penis, I can assure you I would never do). It's also possible that the Jackass movies open a pressure valve for those of us who've had a crap day or week: I may often feel as if I've been slapped in the face with a giant fish, but these guys have actually experienced it.
But at the risk of overintellectualizing what probably is, at heart, just a bunch of overgrown guys acting out, I will venture that many of the gags in Jackass 3D show plenty of visual wit, if not brilliance. In the aforementioned "Beehive Tetherball," two of the Jackass guys bat an orb filled with pissed-off bees back and forth. To maximize the risk, and the pain, of those bee stings, they're dressed as minimally as possible, but it's important to note that they're wearing costumes, consisting of furry brown bear helmets (complete with ears) and matching furry brown underpants, like characters in a demented children's book.
In another gag, "The High Five," unsuspecting cast members are thwacked with a giant hand as they enter the Jackass offices -- these guys appear to be living in one big Don Martin cartoon. And in the movie's most visually beautiful and most horrifying moment, Johnny Knoxville, who has painted himself so he'll blend in perfectly with a tree-and-rainbow adorned canvas that's been propped up in a bullpen, waits for a disgruntled, 2,000-pound, four-legged critter to charge him.
Afterward, we see the whole thing replayed in slow motion: When the beast runs at Knoxville, he flips into the air and the first part of his body to touch ground is the base of his neck -- you can almost hear the crunch. It looks like the kind of fall that could possibly kill you, though it doesn't, thank goodness, kill Knoxville. He's carried off quickly to safety, and after taking a few seconds to collect himself, he just laughs, as do the rest of his buddies watching from the sidelines -- though they seem to know, perhaps better than he does, how close he came to biting the big one.
I'm glad the Jackass guys don't churn out a new movie each year, because by the time I reach the end of each one, I do feel I've had enough for a while. Jackass 3D is no exception. This is, admittedly, extremely guy-centric humor. But as I watch these guys repeatedly, gleefully and stupidly fly through the air and land on their heads, their upper backs, their tailbones, I always -- even as I'm laughing -- feel a little of their pain. Not everybody has a cock. But we all have a coccyx.