Title: Jackass 3D
Year of Release: 2010
Date Viewed: October 15th, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
When Forrest Gump coined the phrase "Stupid is as stupid does," maybe this is what he was talking about.
When Jackass first aired on the MTV network ten years ago, it quickly became the talk of the pop culture media and its stars became celebrities overnight. Some people were offended. While the stunts on the show were creative, they were far from classy and were often stomach-turning. It was seen as a sign of the times and an example of how low our standards for humor have fallen. Other people thought it was the greatest thing to ever hit television. Although each episode only had a twenty minute running time excluding advertisements, parties and social gatherings revolved around the anticipation of what these crazy people would do next. The network named their Sunday night lineup "Jackass Sunday" as a nod to its off-the-charts popularity.
Ironically, its popularity is what doomed the show to a short lifespan. Because a good portion of the programming revolved around the cast pulling candid camera style pranks on the general public, the success rate dropped to a low level because their faces were easily recognizable. Performing stunts became difficult too because of all the fans crowding around to see the action.
Jackass was given a much needed break before returning with grand fashion in 2002 as a feature length movie (which operated as a ninety minute episode). To compensate for their still existing popularity, many stunts were filmed in places where they were less likely to be recognized such as Japan. It grossed over eleven million dollars.
After the movie's release, the cast went their separate ways for a while. The series' main star Johnny Knoxville began a successful movie career while others became involved in spin-off projects that resembled the juvenile humor of Jackass. The cast reunited for a second film in 2006 that earned almost twice as much revenue as the previous project, proving that there was still an audience for the franchise despite the long gap in exposure.
Two weeks ago to this writing date, Jackass returned again, this time boasting state-of-the-art 3D effects so fans can get even closer to the messy action. As a long time follower of the group, my experience watching this is best described as jaw dropping, disturbing, disgusting, degenerate and flat out fun. In other words, it's exactly what a Jackass fan wants to see.
The premiere was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which should tell you a number of things. Among them should be that someone somewhere considers the stunts performed in this film to be artistic and that the definition of art is now more subjective than ever. In a strange way, I can actually see some of the reasoning behind it. Jackass has never been a project where a hand held camera was turned on and they filmed whatever they felt like shooting. Almost nothing is done "on-the-fly." Things are carefully planned down to the cast members' starting position to where the cameras are placed to capture the action. There are some stunts that don't even need explaining for the audience to know what is coming. One scene begins with a shot of Steve-O wearing only his underwear standing behind of a baseball tee that has a revolving lever attached to it. At the end of the lever is a metal ball the size of a standard baseball. And standing next to the tee is another cast member with a baseball bat in his hands. Put two and two together and you will quickly realize that what's about to happen will not end well.
Other stunts find beauty in the unexpected. In the opening skit, unsuspecting cast members are individually brought upstairs in an office building, thinking that they are simply fulfilling a delivery request. As they enter the room where the item is to be delivered, Jason "Wee Man" Acuna welcomes them with a shout-out of "High five!"; the signal. A gigantic hand comes swinging around the corner and the victim is knocked off his feet like a Looney Tunes character.
And then there's the material that is created to shock you with how sick and twisted the humor can be. The world we live in is so crazy that some people had an idea to launch someone trapped in a portable toilet high up into the air, video capture the volunteer and all the loose human waste that covers him, release the footage in a three dimensional format to give the illusion of being trapped in the toilet with him, and other people would pay money to have the pleasure of watching. Pushing the envelope is the key to drawing interest. It takes advantage of the public's desire to see something, anything, that they haven't seen before. It's shameless. It knows it. And most fans won't have it any other way.
The 3D effects bring new insanity to the madness. The hits are more painful and the gross stuff is extra disgusting. It does not however, make the stunts funnier. The "art" behind Jackass is all about the moment, not how one witnesses the moment. So by that reasoning, you can consider the 3D effects to be a luxury option for admiring the set-ups if you happen to get a high paycheck that week. It's certainly not mandatory for the laugh factor.
Here are some other things that can enhance the experience. Bring along friends. The more the merrier. If a particular stunt isn't appealing, you might still laugh at the reaction of another person. Have a good hearty meal at least an hour before the show starts and give yourself equal time after the movie. Just because the cast gets nauseous at times doesn't mean you have to. Keep telling yourself that it's okay to laugh at other people's pain. It was a risk they accepted beforehand. You have no moral responsibility here.
The last and most important rule: Never try any of these stunts at home. The movie is called Jackass for a reason.