In a culture that is continually being numbed by the inability to form strong human connections, movies offer an escape into different emotional extremes. People flock to horror movies to have their adrenaline raised and genuinely experience fear. Movies about loss and grief cause the tears to flow by stimulating a similar emotion in the audience. The Jackass franchise exists to give movie goers the opportunity to experience another emotional extreme â€“ grotesque.
Since the Jackass boys began their shenanigans as a television show on MTV in 2000 they have revolutionized the “man gets hit in the crotch” phenomenon. They have been beat up, made to vomit, and put their lives at risk for the sake of entertainment and audiences continue to come out in droves to see what they will think of next. Their stunts stir up an emotional and physical reaction in an audience as they cross their legs, bend over in pain, and close their eyes to prevent themselves from vomiting at the activities of which they are only mere spectators. The Jackasses have successfully created a genre that takes us back to gladiatorial times except the participants hurt themselves by choice.
The third movie installment of the franchise, Jackass 3D, brings stunts that are no more or less extreme than in the previous editions. The men are getting older, with star Johnny Knoxville months away from his 40th birthday, but age has not slowed them down a bit as they continue to push themselves to physical extremes. The film is formatted as a series of brief sketches with their own titles and stunts. Despite its apparent simplicity, there is actually some thought put into the movie as it is well constructed and well-edited.
Some of the stunt highlights/lowlights in this edition of Jackass are the high five, featuring a giant hand that would knock it unknowing victims on their behind, the sweat cocktail, which is disgustingly exactly what the name sounds like, and the rocky, where water is thrown at one side of a personâ€™s face and a punch is thrown at the other. The usual cast of characters returns including Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Jason â€œWee Manâ€ Acuna, Preston Lacy, Dave England, and Danger Ehren McGhehey. All of the men look like their history of over-the-top stunts has begun to get the better of them with the consequences of previous stunts â€“ missing teeth, tattoos, scars â€“ showing on their bodies. However, there is no indication that this will be their last installment.
As much as it seems that all the work is done by the Jackasses on screen, there is some behind the camera skill exhibited in the film. The team of editors have excellent comic timing as they show just enough of each scene to cause an uproar of laughter. Some scenes get the full-length treatment and others are quick shots with no set up. An example would be the scene where Steve-O takes a practice ball to the crotch where the humor of the scene predominately occurs in the moments before the crotch shot as we get to see Steve-Oâ€™s hesitation. The camera is placed in the right spot throughout the film for the audience to get a full visceral reaction. The 3D was an unnecessary embellishment that only really worked in the opening and closing scenes of the film.
The Jackass franchise has always attracted a younger male audience, which is interesting because of the fact that the male nudity is plentiful and there is no female presence in any of the films. The closest that comes to female interaction is when the boys pull pranks on April Margera, Bam Margeraâ€™s mother. What is further interesting is that none of them seem to have even a fleeting interest in chasing women. Instead they delight in remarkably close encounters with one anotherâ€™s genitalia and find humor in their homoerotic activities. Whether their behavior is intentionally sexualized or simply meant for good, clean fun is unclear, but it does allow for some interesting psychoanalyzing while watching.
Not everyone can find joy and humor in this type of film. A man getting hit in the crotch will probably never get old, but one can on only handle so much vomiting, poop showers, and purposeless self-destruction before the desire to find a point becomes overwhelming. Unfortunately with the Jackass franchise we are unlikely to ever find one.
Bottom Line: Just as horror movies should be avoided by those who have faint hearts, Jackass 3D should be avoided by those with weak stomachs.