I’m grading on a curve here, which I’m owning upfront for I have never been much of a fan of either the MTV television show or the two previous films from Johnny Knoxville and his crew of insanely stupid stuntsters. However, this time around, I was completely hooked and found myself enjoying the mindlessness of this set of pranks and flat-out demented acts of self-destruction. By making such an admission though, I am acknowledging a not-so secret hole in the seemingly impenetrable cultural hightower of film review and criticism. Serious-minded critics are not supposed to even waste their time on movies like Jackass; save your choice words and elegantly constructed turns of phrase for the masters scaling the heights. The Jackasses and their ilk are critic-proof anyway, right?
So what does the grade mean? It speaks to the notion that Knoxville, fan favorites Steve-o, Bam Margera, and the rest of the boys, after a four-year hiatus from the last movie (which seems even longer since the show has been off the air), have certainly been missed. It has been eight years since the first film installment of the series hit theaters, and the time has taken its toll on the fellas. Steve-o has gone and remained alcohol-free, although that doesn’t prevent him from becoming a key ingredient in a big poo cocktail, allowing himself to be strapped into a fully-loaded porta-john that gets shaken and stirred. Knoxville, after taking a couple of shots at feature film glory (The Ringer, The Dukes of Hazzard), settles back into his regular groove here, facing off against bulls in the ring and thoroughly enjoying Candid Camera moments on the streets.
If pushed, pulled, dragged or held at gunpoint, there are likely a few critics willing to admit that Jackass 3D achieves its intended goals in small doses. A half-hour of dumb stunts can generate laughs, and the 3D effects stretch and extend the physical aspects of the gags better than any of the action set pieces of, say, Clash of the Titans, but by the 31st minute, it gets old and starts to drag. I wouldn’t go that far. Although some of the bits get lost in the revolting waves that keep pounding the senses, the movie succeeds because it doesn’t matter in the overall scheme of things.
Utterly disposable and horrible for your viewing health, Jackass 3D is like the perfect fast food meal, one that you consume and void out almost instantaneously. As disgusting as some of the set-ups are, nothing stays with you once you leave the theater. So, laugh or barf until you cry and walk away with no guilt. (tt stern-enzi)