- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 26, 2002

''Jackass: The Movie" doesn't just set a new low for bad taste, it could stand as the most puerile film ever committed to celluloid. The $5 million movie, an extension of an MTV show in which a group of young men mutilate themselves and commit lewd "Candid Camera"-style stunts, doesn't have a plot, script or narrative element. It simply exists as a series of short bursts of mayhem bent on making us either laugh or get queasy or sick about a society that would place such a show on a pedestal.
The movie's all-male, frequently nude troupe manages to tap the anarchist spirit in us all. Heck, who doesn't delight, if but for a moment, in tweaking societal norms?
Yet precious little joy can be found in the film's events, all purportedly real even if several sequences appear suspicious or at least partly staged.
Defecation, urination and vomit-spewing are all trotted out for our entertainment between the ritualistic beatings doled out among participants.
The leader of the pack, Johnny Knoxville ("Men in Black II"), whose real name is John Phillip Clapp, emerges as the only player with any redeemable worth. His mug think a low-rent Vince Vaughn conveys at least some humanity as he hurtles himself into one dangerous situation after another.
In one segment, Mr. Knoxville's head is literally split open during a fight with a real boxer nicknamed Butterbean. We watch as a physician stitches the woozy performer's wound in a gory close-up.
Surely waiting tables until a real gig comes along is a better option than this.
The rest of the ensemble in "Jackass" fares far worse. None of the participants displays an ounce of wit, decency or charm. Steve-O, a favorite among the show's fans, walks a tightrope over a pond teeming with alligators, then later administers deep paper cuts to the corners of his mouth.
A few of the bits hold satirical potential, such as when the players are convincingly made up as elderly men to wreak havoc with the public. These scenes never fulfill their goofy promise.
Much of the rest can't be described in a mainstream publication. Suffice to say the gang leaves no bodily fluid or function behind.
Cinematically, "Jackass: The Movie," which was shot in parts of three states as well as Japan and Mexico, offers nothing to justify its exposure on the big screen. Had this been a direct-to-video affair aimed at aggressive, developmentally arrested teens, such laziness might have been forgivable.
The cast members don't even appear fond of each other in any meaningful way. Each possesses an excess of schadenfreude, that foul trait shared by too many teenage boys to derive glee from seeing their friends suffer, but these are grown men who should have left that awkward phase years ago.
The most alarming element of "Jackass: The Movie," beyond its cruel aesthetic, is the genuine danger the players put themselves in for their "art." Several sequences, such as a demolition-derby-style clash between golf carts, easily could have led to serious injury or even death.
That kind of sacrifice for this kind of movie is no laughing matter.

1/2*
TITLE: "Jackass: The Movie"
RATING: R (Extreme violence, urination, defecation, drinking and nudity)
CREDITS: Directed by Jeff Tremaine
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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