Rated R - Running Time: 1:20 - Released 10/25/02

I’m going to break with tradition on this review and not give Jackass: The Movie a star rating, since the point of the star rating is to give the reader an at-a-glance assessment of the film based on the artistic technique of the parties involved. With this film, there is really no art to assess—there is no writing, acting or any other cinematic technique in play here, with the exception of some special effects work during both the opening and closing credits. The only directing I can see (credited to Jeff Tremaine) is where to put the camera(s) and/or which tape to use in the final print. As for whether I recommend it to the public, I think that decision will be based solely on the individual’s interest in the subject. Anyone familiar with the 2000 MTV show Jackass, which featured actor/daredevil Johnny Knoxville and his troupe of like-minded friends performing various wacky stunts for no other purpose than to see if they can survive them, will be able to decide whether he or she will have any interest in seeing the movie, which, by all accounts, is simply a longer and uncensored version of the same thing.

This movie is more like a well-funded frat film than a professional work of cinema; shot on digital video, it could be compared most closely to current shock-TV shows like Fear Factor or Comedy Central's Trigger Happy TV. It is really just a miscellaneous and disjointed collection of short films featuring Knoxville and his gang (including Brendan "Bam" Margera, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Dave England, Ryan Dunn, Jason "Wee Man" Acuna, Preston Lacy, and Ehren McGhehey, among others) performing various pranks, physical challenges, and masochistic stunts, usually followed by an exclamation of "Oh, my God!" and several seconds of maniacal giggling. The stunts range from the simply pointless (running around Tokyo dressed as pandas) to the seriously dangerous (being shot at close range with a new, untested crowd-control projectile) to the truly disgusting (lots of footage of real bodily functions, both planned and unintentional). This is for people whose idea of entertainment is watching a man vomit while his friends laugh their asses off. Much of the film was shot in Japan, probably because these guys couldn’t get clearance to do some of this stuff in the U.S., and includes numerous cameo appearances by celebrities like pro skater Tony Hawk, actor Henry Rollins, actor-director Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), WWF star Butterbean, and aging clown Rip Taylor (remember The $1.98 Beauty Show?).

There are two things I should definitely say in discussing this movie. Number 1: DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME. This warning is flashed on the screen at the beginning and end of the movie; apparently, the reason the TV show was canceled was because a number of common-sense-challenged youths across America were attempting the sometimes life-threatening stunts they saw on the show. Number 2: Don’t watch this movie if you have a weak stomach. After 5 years and over 600 movies, I can actually say this is the first time I left the theater feeling physically ill. While I’ll admit I did laugh guiltily on several occasions (or gasp in horror, or shake my head in disbelief), I left the theater with a queasy feeling in my stomach and a sympathetic ache in all my orifices.

So…is this what we want from our entertainment?

Copyright 2002 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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