I've seen this point get tossed around online and I feel slightly qualified to address it: has 'Jackass' aged well?
At first glance, it seems like the answer is a resounding "no," as I'd argue most of you reading this have already made up your mind on the series in some way or another. The danger-obsessed brainchild of Johnny Knoxville, Spike Lee and Jeff Tremaine that, for a short time, was MTV's bread and butter property, but one that reveled in a brand of stunt work that you could take as either totally admirable or incredibly stupid depending on your sense of humor. As someone who was never into that kind of content, the idea of seeing these guys throw themselves against walls or roll around in their own feces was unappealing at best and gross at worst.
But as the years have gone on, the reality that 'Jackass' tried to escape from became very real. Most of the cast have been vocal about their struggles with drugs and alcohol, Ryan Dunn's tragic death in 2011 left a shadow over the entire team, and while stunts continued to be the team's bread and butter, acting projects, speaking tours, and podcasts suddenly became just as entrenched to the group as any prank. That sense of legacy became abundantly clear in the first trailers for 'Jackass Forever,' the first feature-length film since 2010's 'Jackass 3-D,' and, according to Knoxville, potentially the last, at least for him.
Again, as someone who was never a fan, I was genuinely intrigued to see what a 2022 'Jackass' project could look like, especially in a post-YouTube prank culture era, and in a box office climate still very much submissive to the pandemic, what'd we get? This was essentially my roundabout way of saying 'Jackass Forever' is actually really fun! That comes with its share of asterisks, and not everything about it works, but this new film showcases the 'Jackass' crew's love for themselves and their craft more than anything else in the franchise. Oh, and did I mention it's funny, because, yeah, I laughed a lot!
Like the films before it, 'Jackass Forever' stars Johnny Knoxville acting as the mad ringmaster of the 'Jackass' crew, organizing daring stunts (and complete disregard for human anatomy) that are stitched together into a 96-minute project. In addition to classic members like Steve-O, Chris Pontius and Wee Man, they are joined by several newcomers, including Odd Future's Jasper Dolphin (and his father, Compston "Darkshark" Wilson), "Shark Week's Sean "Poopsies" McInerney, and stand-up comic, Rachel Wolfson among others.
The thing is I can't argue that this is different from any other 'Jackass' property. It's the mostly same team, using a lot of the same shock value to heighten the sense of danger, wrapped in a vignette-style structure and some neat cameos to boot. But I can't fault it for that because, while you could argue it's the least visceral of the franchise, the results also feel more admirable.
The stunt work on display isn't just legitimately entertaining, but also daringly well-crafted, and knowing that the guys are actually trying to take care of themselves, let alone their new cohorts, provides a level of teamwork to the whole thing that was never quite there before. It also just makes the 'Jackass' family feel just that: familial, with all the messiness on display, but able to laugh at all of it and take it in stride.
But make no mistake, entertainment value is goal number one, and my goodness was I entertained. I don't know how every screening will go, but my mixed press/public screening was one of the best pandemic-era I've been to because everyone was having the same reactions of laughter, intrigue and visceral cringe. Needless to say, while I was squirming in my seat for two thirds of the runtime, I was doing so with a big old grin on my face, knowing full well that Knoxville and co. have the swagger and planning to pull these kinds of things off.
I won't spoil every major stunt, but I will simply tell you that some of stuff you may have seen in the marketing (Knoxville in the cannon, the beekeeper bit, etc.) are significantly better paced in the movie than the trailers, in addition to a disgusting, but weirdly clever, opening sequence that may be the film's highlight.
Yet it's the smaller moments that really got me, particularly a slap trivia moment early on with Danger Ehren that nearly broke me and take your pick of any of Chris Pontius' out-of-nowhere quips (seriously was he always this sharp?). Plus, the new cast members all fit in perfectly, particularly Rachel Wolfson's impeccable comedic timing, and 'Too Stupid to Die's Zach Holmes, who gets thrown through the ringer maybe more than anyone else (aside from maybe Steve-O's genitals, but I won't spoil that).
Now, all of that being said, while I acknowledge it would be foolish of me to critique 'Jackass Forever' on any sort of major level, not everything works. In particular, there are a few sketches that just never quite hooked me, either for their quick runtimes or just jokes that feel a bit lazy comparatively (the marching band bit comes to mind).
I will also say the bear scene from the trailers feels just a bit too mishandled for its own good (even if they do acknowledge it, something about Danger Ehren's reaction didn't sit well with me). In addition, for as "familial" as I called this earlier, even though cast member Bam Margera is still dealing with his own issues, his presence is sorely missed (although he and his family still are credited in the movie, but I couldn't point him out for the life of me). Then there's the obvious "this kind of humor won't be for everyone" criticism, but you've made it this far in the review, so let's leave that in the dust, shall we?
The point is, after all these years, I feel comfortable in recognizing a 'Jackass' film for what it is: stupidly dangerous, but rarely ill-conceived and laughing in the face of whatever may result, and that aesthetic is one peak display in 'Jackass Forever.' I will simply tell you that it is a blast to watch this team, old and new, find new ways to entertain themselves and frame it in such a universal way that I think nowadays is sorely needed for a lot of audiences.
It goes back to the initial question: has 'Jackass' aged well? I'd still argue it greatly depends on how willing you are to engage with it and the factors that brought it to mainstream television. But, at least at this point in its history, 'Jackass Forever' becomes an unabashedly fun time at the theaters, and I think there's something to be said about that being legacy enough.
Overall, I give 'Jackass Forever' an 8/10.
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