Benjamin is a former volunteer DJ at his local hospital radio station. He has been reviewing films online for over fifteen years.
What's the big deal?
Jackass: The Movie is a documentary-style comedy released in 2002 and is directed by Jeff Tremaine. As the title suggests, it is a spin-off of the MTV series Jackass and features all the regular cast and crew as well as a handful of other celebrities and friends of the show. Originally an extension of the show's madcap premise, the film is essentially a series of stunts, pranks and hidden camera videos that MTV refused to broadcast or that Paramount rather foolishly funded. Despite mixed reviews at the time, it remains the foundation of the Jackass series of movies although the second movie is probably the strongest of the series overall.
What's it about?
As stated above, the film revolves around a list of pranks and stunts on both members of the public and the Jackass cast and crew themselves. It is strictly for adults only as lead member Johnny Knoxville states in the opening: "Warning! The stunts in this movie were performed by professionals, so for your safety and the protection of those around you, do not attempt any of the stunts you're about to see."
He's not kidding. We see Knoxville getting shot in the stomach with a beanbag, Steve-O tightrope walk across an alligator pit, Dave England making a visit to the men's room in a hardware store, Ehren McGhehey eating yellow snow and Bam Margera waking his parents up with fireworks, among other crazy things. The boys also visit Japan and London on their adrenaline-fuelled rampage.
Jason "Wee Man" Acuña
Main cast above, Spike Jonze, Jeff Tremaine, Brandon Dicamillo, Dimitry Elyashkevich, Whitey McConnaughy, Sean Cliver, Loomis Fall, Phil Clapp, Vernon Chatman
Release Date (UK)
28th February, 2003
Most Flatulent Teen-Targeted Movie
What's to like?
Everyone likes seeing someone come a cropper - the internet is full of people falling off things and trying stuff that obviously isn't going to work while every TV camcorder show in history is full of the same. And at times, Jackass: The Movie is spectacularly funny. The first time I saw it, I literally couldn't contain myself at some of the mischief the boys get up to and together with the blistering soundtrack, full of angry guitars and punk rage, it is a hilariously madcap exercise into things you know you shouldn't do but want to see what happens when other people do.
The other thing that surprises is that the film lacks any kind of Hollywood gloss whatsoever. Even the things that had a bigger budget like the shopping trolley opening sequence feel raw and visceral. Remember that this film has no stuntmen, Health & Safety executives or CG involved besides the various fools who subject themselves to this sort of treatment. It's also worth mentioning that the swear filters the TV utilises are also done away with so if it wasn't already apparent, this movie is strictly not for kids.
- Loomis Fall came up with the idea for the Night Pandas sequence purely to give the Jackass crew a reason to shoot in Japan. Nobody had the heart to tell him that pandas are Chinese, not Japanese.
- Filmed on a budget of $5 million, it returned a total of $22 million in its opening weekend alone.
- The Wasabi Snooters sequences was filmed on Johnny Knoxville's birthday. That's why he's wearing a silly hat during the sequence.
What's not to like?
Quite a bit. Obviously, this film will not appeal to anyone who hated the original TV show but even regular viewers won't enjoy all of it. The very nature of this movie is much like an extreme circus with one act following another very quickly so one minute, you'll be laughing your socks off and the next, reaching for a sick bag. Pontius' various outings as Party Boy begin to annoy quite quickly while the opening Rent-A-Car Crash Derby sequence also felt kinda weak.
The other big problem the film has is with the competition. With a wide range of imitators pushing things even further (Dirty Sanchez springs to mind), a lot of moments in this movie feel quite tame by comparison. The sequel - Jackass: Number Two - felt more imaginative and entertaining while Jackass 3D pushed it even further into your face. Watching it today, you realise that it's very much a product of its time and hasn't aged that well. It also gets less funny the more you watch it but then, most comedies suffer from this in truth.
Should I watch it?
Truthfully, that depends. If you used to watch the TV show then chances are, you would have already seen this or be planning to shortly, which is fine. But if you didn't then my honest advice would be to stay away. Fans, however, will lap it up - it's a brash, riotous and occasionally nasty piece of cinema but one that will be treasured by a certain generation for some time. It's fun in its own way but it's not exactly a ringing endorsement for American culture.
Great For: Generation X viewers, immature adults, pot heads
Not So Great For: children, families, religious leaders
What else should I watch?
Jackass: The Movie is probably the weakest of the three Jackass movies, as it feels like reheated leftovers from the TV show. My favourite of the trilogy is the second film which was funnier, cleverer and wasn't filmed through a pinhole camera. If you prefer more extreme and bloody antics then give Dirty Sanchez: The Movie a try. But don't say I didn't warn you and please don't take that as a recommendation.
Viewers looking for a more traditional comedy are spoiled for choice with classics like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, the timeless Western spoof Blazing Saddles, Bill Murray's excellent Groundhog Day, disaster spoof Airplane! and many more besides.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox