The typical adjective affixed to anything associated with MTV’s “Jackass” is stupid and while “Jackass: The Movie” does not make any attempts to change this less than intelligent connotation, the film does make one very smart move, avoiding the pressure to affix a plot to their grotesque and dangerous stunts. The lack of a story leaves “Jackass” in its simple television format, making the “The Movie” part of its title only true in the same sense as “South Park: The Movie” was a movie, too; “Jackass: The Movie” is just like its television counterpart, but this time it’s bigger, longer and uncut.
Unlike its Comedy Central comparison, “Jackass: The Movie” never takes full advantage of its new, less restricted format. Where “South Park” pushed the boundaries of the MPAA, offering the avid fan something they could never get on the small screen, “Jackass” includes a little superfluous nudity and swearing that the MTV viewer has never seen before but never really needs to.
Still, unlike “Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course” which threw Animal Planet star Steve Irwin into an absurd plot involving American special agents and forgot the strength of the show was just Irwin creeping dangerously and hilariously nearby wide-jawed reptiles, “Jackass: The Movie” sticks to its guns, offering the viewer a highly destructive rental car collision course, the aptly titled yellow snow cone sequence involving both its creation and consumption, crocodile pond tight-rope walking and lots of more stupid human tricks that are equal parts bravery, stupidity and most importantly, boredom.
In the avoidance of a plot, “Jackass: The Movie” aims for nothing more than entertainment and brainless hilarity. In this goal, it succeeds; while the Tom Greens and Jason Lees of the world continue making films with these simple objectives as well but fail miserably, “Jackass” simplifies its content to the raw core of the material that actually makes a Tom Green movie funny, the failed stunt. Films like “Stealing Harvard” dream up fantastical plots to produce reasons to have dogs biting the genitalia of its stars, and the viewer, who has seen such antics performed countless times on-screen, sees it coming miles away. “Jackass” needs only laughs as the inspiration and causation for its extreme stunts, and the “Jackass” crew must spend hours sitting around bars brainstorming ways to embarrass each other in the most creative ways.
Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Jason “Wee-Man” Acuna and the rest of the gang conquer (or at least attempt to) on-screen many of life’s fears that the average viewer may dream about but never thinks possible. “Jackass” proves that life really can be lived to the fullest, you just may end up with a toy car in your ass, a concussion or paper cuts on your tongue and the webbings of your feet (a sequence that forced this viewer to squeal in his seat as the images of Knoxville and others in pain was as real as that fantasy better ever get for most people, specifically myself).
Besides over-the-top opening and closing sequences featuring a giant shopping cart and huge explosions that ricochet off of the “Jackass” family, the film boasts very low production values. Shot on grainy video, in an effort to keep up with all the fast paced fun and danger of the activities, “Jackass” never looks better than your family’s home videos. The men behind “Jackass” are just like a lot of young people everywhere with video cameras and nothing to do. A bunch of friends get together, do stupid things and then laugh as they watch it again later. The only difference here is that “Jackass” gets broadcast to millions of people through their televisions and now projected in theaters everywhere.
But in the end, one thing separates “Jackass: The Movie” from the vast majority of motion pictures. Would you ever pay to see those home videos your friends make? The answer is an unequivocal no. Their stupid behavior can be enjoyable, and a good piece of entertainment when drinking, but choosing the free television alternative over the prices at a local multiplex should be a quick decision.
While vicariously taking pleasure in the insane lengths at which the “Jackass” community will go to test the limits of their pain and other people’s pleasure is surely a pleasant experience, its better served for the couch than the stadium seating recliner.