Boys Will Be Boys, and it Will Be Gross
By Roxana Hadadi
Johnny Knoxville has perfect teeth, and they’re impossible to ignore during “Jackass 3D.”
In nearly every scene of the latest installment of the “Jackass” franchise, the ringleader of the raucous rabble-rousers is laughing up a storm, showing off his gleaming, Chiclet-like teeth like he’s doing a commercial for Colgate. And yes, most of the film, if you’re a fan of this kind of no-thinking-necessary humor that’s heavy on reckless stunts, is hilarious – members of the crew fly through shrubs, encourage rams to attack them and catapult themselves into swimming pools. But genitalia and defecation, flying toward your face ? No thanks.
Unfortunately, you can’t pick and choose what’s actually 3D in “Jackass 3D,” so prepare yourself for the potty humor (literally), naked body parts and vomit that will magically seem all-too realistic during the R-rated film’s 94 minutes. But if you’re going to see the film, chances are you’re already used to the kind of gleeful nastiness that occurs when Knoxville and partners-in-crime Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña , Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Dave England and Ehren McGhehey get together – as they have during the original “Jackass” series on MTV, spin-off shows like “Viva La Bam” and “Wildboyz” and two films, 2002’s “Jackass: The Movie” and 2006’s “Jackass Number Two.” When together, these men – guided by director and “Jackass” co-creator Jeff Tremaine – do stupid, stupid things, all for our pleasure. Are we not entertained? Well, kind of.
And so it goes that “Jackass 3D” is structured just as every other “Jackass” creation, with the men gathering for a variety of dumb stunts, activities and tricks – sometimes with guest stars like actor Seann William Scott, show co-creator Spike Jonze, football players Erik Ainge, Jared Allen and Josh Brown and Bam’s parents April and Phil – that they either pull together or on each other. The movie starts off with an introduction from animated ‘90s cult heroes Beavis and Butthead, who discuss how the film’s 3D makes it look different than anything “Jackass” has done previously, and then launches into the opening credits, which introduce us to the cast as they get pelted with a variety of different objects.
Beginning with this first scene is where the film’s slow-motion and 3D technology are used to great effect: Most of the film, including this sequence, was shot with high-speed cameras, and the accuracy is unbelievable. Steve-O, dressed only in briefs and white feathery angel wings, jumps into a ceiling fan and lands in a birthday cake, and you can inspect the details on every feather as they explode in the fan’s blades. When Ryan Dunn smashes Bam, who is wearing a paper mache-constructed cupcake outfit, in the stomach, you should be able to count every individual flutter of confetti as they fly off him. And it’s just painful to watch Ehren, dressed in fuzzy leopard ears and underwear with an attached tail, get pelted by paintballs from Bam – as each one hits Ehren’s body, you can practically feel the impact and see the future bruise. It’s not pretty.
But of course, nothing about “Jackass 3D” is pretty. These are guys who do the most revolting things on-camera for a laugh, and one-upping each other is an unspoken rule. One stunt involves a mostly naked Preston putting an apple in his backside and leaning over so a pig can come and eat it (and presumably take a few chomps off him), and it’s amazingly disgusting when Steve-O takes a bite of the apple after it’s already been in Preston’s bottom. In another involving the pair, a similarly almost-nude Preston is covered in plastic wrap, put on a exercise machine and forced to work out until he starts dripping perspiration – and then Steve-O drinks the sweat, and then throws up, and then the cameraman filming the whole thing throws up, and that gets Steve-O started again. Just because Steve-O is sober now doesn’t mean he still won’t do horribly revolting things.
But for all that suffering, “Jackass 3D” does include some undeniably successful parts, guaranteed to garner a laugh without a grimace at the same time. There’s a running gag where portable toilets are rigged with paint bombs that go off whenever a member of the crew goes in, so random people are constantly flooded in neon blue. During one hidden-camera sequence, Wee Man starts a bar brawl with other patrons of similar size, which is then broken up by wee cops and paramedics. And even though some stunts don’t go off perfectly – like when Steve-O and a few other guys give up on playing tetherball with a beehive full of Africanized bees, and Bam has a legitimate panic attack when dumped in a pit with real snakes, one of his biggest fears – it’s kind of admirable that all these guys, most of whom are nearing 40, still have the same camaraderie they did a decade ago. There’s no bailing in “Jackass 3D” – picking on each other, of course. Abandoning each other, not so much.
So for the most part – despite boring, repetitive segments like Bam urinating on unknowing people and Chris Pontius showing off a full-frontal view of his naked body – “Jackass 3D” offers new stunts for diehard fans, and if you don’t mind watching people defecate or get covered in the stuff, you’ll enjoy it. Of course, though, audience members should be old enough to handle all the cursing, nudity, sexual paraphernalia, dirty jokes, inappropriate behavior, suggested sexual abuse and bone-crushing injuries involved here – the R rating is certainly deserved, and there’s no getting around it. From the “Jackass” guys, did you really expect anything less?
Roxana Hadadi last reviewed “Buried.”
Also out in theaters is “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.”