Jackass: The Movie

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Jeff Tremaine

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Review byMatthew Turner24/02/2003

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

More a feature-length sketch show than a movie, this is compellingly stupid and frequently hilarious, though you may want to bring a sick-bag, just in case.

MTV’s hit show Jackass, latterly being shown on Channel 4, began life as a series of videoed stunts and pratfalls performed by a group of masochistic, extreme-sports loving ‘skater punks’, although ringleader Johnny Knoxville got his start by testing self-defence products on video for a skater magazine.

The involvement of producer Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation), himself a part of the skater scene, presumably played no small part in the transition from video pranks to small-screen hit.

Bigger, Badder, Sicker

The TV show had the team branching out into stupid stunts, practical jokes (on each other and on members of the public) and gross-out acts of masochism usually involving actual bodily harm. The movie, then, is pretty much just a feature-length episode of the show, only with the nudity un-blurred, the swearing un-bleeped and the gross-out stunts, well, more vomit inducing. Literally.

If you’ve seen the TV show, then you’ll already be familiar with its colourful cast of characters, including Johnny Knoxville (recently seen in Men In Black II), Steve-O (undoubtedly the most masochistic of them all – witness his ‘off-road tattoo’ sketch), Bam Margera (whose obsession with pulling pranks on his parents borders on disturbing), Jason ‘Wee Man’ Acuna and Ryan Dunn (who seems to do the stunts that no-one else will do). However, if you’ve never seen the show, then not to worry, as you soon pick up on their various personalities.

A more appropriate title for Jackass: The Movie might be Kids, Don’t Try This At Home!, although it’s hard to imagine anyone actually wanting to replicate some of the stunts on display here. After an impressive opening sequence involving a shopping trolley (the most ‘cinematic’ bit of the film), the movie quickly becomes a series of sketches ranging from the gleefully stupid (Knoxville trampolining into a ceiling fan), to the downright insane (Steve-O walking a tightrope above a pool of hungry alligators, with meat in his pants), to stunts that are just plain vomit-inducing (Steve-O ‘creates’ and eats a ‘Yellow Snow Cone’ on camera).

Paper Cuts And Wasabi Snorting

There’s a surprising amount of variety in the sketches, although you’re never more than a few moments away from something that will make either you or the onscreen cast want to vomit. Perhaps the worst offenders are the paper-cut sequence (Knoxville and friends deliberately administer nasty paper-cuts) and the wasabi-snorting scene.

There’s also a delightfully anti-authoritarian streak to a few of the sketches. One of the funniest involves Knoxville hiding on a posh golf course and sounding a klaxon as the golfers take their swings. Since the cameraman is also hiding in the bushes (and shaking with laughter), you almost feel as if you’re actually taking part. (Thankfully, that’s not true of every sketch).

Rest assured, this is not a film for the squeamish. If the sight of blood, vomit, shit or urine makes you feel queasy, then you should avoid this like your life depended on it. It’s juvenile, jaw-droppingly stupid and it’s quite possible that some or all of its participants are certifiable, but it is, at the same time, hilariously funny. Part of the humour definitely comes from the infectious laughter of the team-members themselves – you’ll be hard-pressed not to join in, even as you’re suppressing your gag-reflex.

In short, this is definitely not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of the show then you won’t be disappointed and if you’ve never seen it then there’s probably an additional benefit to be had from the shock value of the whole thing. Recommended, but make sure you sit in an aisle seat and bring a sick bag. Just in case.

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Content updated: 14/12/2018 16:12

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