Jackass: The Movie (2002)

Rating: B

Dir: Jeff Tremaine
Star: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius

Taking stupid human tricks to their logical conclusion, at least my conscience is clean: I waited till this turned up on cable, so the creators won’t have received encouragement in the form of any of my money, no, sirree. While it won’t break my heart if I never see this again, I laughed like a drain, and on more than one occasion. It is, of course, mondo cinema at its very dumbest and most juvenile, with all the geek-show factor, and not even the pretense of a moral stance: “Who are the real savages?”. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Not at all. Hell, as a tool of Darwinism, it’ll weed out any viewers dumb enough to try the stunts for themselves [I’m sure we all know someone who should stuff a dead chicken down the back of their shorts, then dangle above a pool of alligators…]

While there’s no plot to speak of, just a series of incidents, these can be roughly divided into three areas:

  • Violence. Crashing golf-carts. Getting your ass kicked by Japanese women’s kickboxer Naoko Kumagai, or – in a department store – by super-heavyweight fighter Butterbean. Letting a baby reptile chew on your nipple.
  • Anti-social. Trashing a rental car. Lap-dancing innocent bystanders. Setting off an entire fireworks display in your parents’ bedroom. Blowing air-horns at golfers. Leaving an alligator in your mother’s kitchen.
  • Bodily functions. Taking a dump in a display toilet. Eating a urine snow-cone. Sticking a toy car up your ass. Proof that snorting wasabi makes you vomit.

On reflection, that’s likely the order of appeal too; the best scenes, e.g. rocket-propelled roller skates, are a live-action Roadrunner cartoon, with imagination and fearlessness in equal quantity. A 5-second chunk has Steve-O trampolining into a ceiling fan. It’s pointless, has no context – and that’s why it works. In contrast, Bam Margera’s parental torture, while funny, is too reminiscent of the stuff Tom Green used to do, and as for the stuff with fluids…well, I pass. But, in the end, is this all really that different from the custard-pie slapstick of Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton?