The crew of MTV's Jackass programme perform a new series of and pranks for the big screen. Jackass crew members Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Dave England, Ryan Dunn, Jason 'Wee-Man' Acuna, Preston Lacy and Ehren Mcghehey display their dedication to physical comedy of the extreme kind with a collection of stunts ranging from personal pain infliction to public disturbances and property destruction. Make 'em laugh (at any cost) is their motto.
Review by Richard Kuipers:
Paramount Pictures founding President Adolph Zukor called his autobiography 'The Public Is Never Wrong'. The Hungarian immigrant who graduated from nickelodeon operator to head of the most successful studio of the silent era is doubtless smiling now as his successors at Paramount extract maximum mileage from the Zukor philosophy with Jackass The Movie. Made for US$5million (a quarter of the salary paid to stars like Tom Cruise and Jim Carrey) Jackass The Movie has already made 10 times that amount in North America alone and is one of the most successful cost-to-profit films ever released by the 90 year-old studio.
No plot, shot on video and impossible to defend on any grounds of good taste (always an encouraging sign for comedy), Jackass can best be described as a sort-of 'Funniest and Most Physically Dangerous and Disgusting Home Videos' compilation. The nine Jackass stooges led by main man Johnny Knoxvill have no higher aim than to take physical comedy as far as they can in the execution and we in the audience can endure. To that end these prime examples of arrested development are willing to strap electrodes on their genitals, attach firecrackers to their anuses and inflict paper cuts on each other, just for starters. With the longest sequences running only a couple of minutes there's plenty to amuse and appal just about everyone and there are enough genuinely creative pranks to make this worthwhile even as you're gagging at ultra gross-outs like the practical test-run of a toilet in a hardware store.
The funniest routines are those that tap into more common experiences and encourage us to identify with the disobedience on display. The return of a rental car used in a smash-up derby and the staging of a boxing match in the menswear section of a department store hit the mark because they play on our deep-seated fantasies of consumer society run amok. Wouldn't we all love to hire a smart new car, smash it up and leave it to the company to sort out the insurance? (historical note: John Landis did exactly that with a dozen rental cars he rolled on his first feature film Schlock: Banana Monster, in 1971). Is Jackass high art from the lowest depths or a cataclysmic cultural sign that our unquenchable desire for sensational cheap thrills has brought us to a freak show like this. Who knows, but about two-thirds of this is damn funny.
Special Features reviewed by Louise Keller:
Chances are you’ll only be interested in the special features if you loved the movie! Right? If you have the stomach for more action, check out the outtakes – some of the stunts need to be seen to be believed. And of course everyone loves seeing what went wrong. Preston the Mermaid with the huge pot belly, shock of crimson-red hair and goggles who jumps into the water and surfaces minus hair is an image that stayed with me. And needless to say, much of humour is in questionable taste.
The commentary is as left of centre as the movie, and whether or not it actually took longer to do than the whole movie put together, is a matter of conjecture. This is from the same studio that brought you The Godfather, says Johnny Knoxville, who is joined by cinematographer Dimitry Elyashkevich and director Jeff Tremaine for a lively irreverent conversation. As if there wasn’t enough trivia in this commentary, there’s also the cast group commentary. I must admit it does sound as though everyone was having a good time.
If you’re not sure what to expect in the movie, take a quick look at the making of feature that is hosted by Johnny Knoxville. But wait! There’s much more – like the additional footage scenes, which are very short and mean very little. There’s a limit to how much vomit you can watch…
Published July 31, 2003
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JACKASS: DVD (MA)
CAST: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Dave England, Ryan Dunn
DIRECTOR: Jeff Tremaine
SCRIPT: Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dimitry Elyashkevich
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9 widescreen
SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by director, cinematographer and Johnny Knoxville; cast commentary; MTV’s making of feature; outtakes; 27 minutes of additional footage; promo spots; music video; trailer; cast and crew biographies; photo gallery; poster gallery;
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
DVD RELEASE: July 31, 2003