MPAA Rating: R (what else would it be?)/ Genre: Comedy/ Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, Chris Pontius, Dave England, Danger Ehren, Preston Lacy, Sean “Poopies” McInerney, Jasper Dolphin, Zach Holmes, Rachel Wolfson, Eric Manaka, Compston “Darkshark” Wilson, Bam Margera, Eric André, Tory Belleci, Tony Hawk, Mat Hoffman, Aaron “Jaws” Homoki, Atiba Jefferson, Francis Ngannou, Jalen Ramsey, P. K. Subban, DJ Paul, Yelawolf, Machine Gun Kelly, Tyler, the Creator, Jules Sylvester, Danielle O’Toole, Rob Dyrdek, Loomis Fall, The Dudesons, Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze, Sean Cliver, Lance Bangs, Rick Kosick, Chris Raab/Runtime: 96 minutes
I think it is safe to say that amongst all the entries in the vast catalogue of cinema that we as audiences have ever been treated to, the Jackass franchise has always been quite a distinct cinematic undertaking. That’s because, from a structural point of view, the closest thing I could think to compare this franchise to is an anthology movie, but unlike those slices of cinema there really is no desire by the cast or crew to give the main 4 films any kind of overarching narrative. At the same time these slices of cinema also possess the realism on often sees in a documentary, but again there is nothing in these movies that could be labeled as a specific “topic”. Rather, this franchise is no more and no less than shock and gross-out comedy that has been sculpted with the independence that a slice of cinema that is not restricted by a narrative framework can be gifted. Indeed each installment in this franchise is a collection of quite unique ideas that are carried out with the goal in mind of entertaining you even as it puts at least one person in the gallery of performers through some kind of mental or physical anguish. Along with these quite distinct components however, a pair of assumptions can safely be made: assumption number one is that you will either be extremely accepting of this film and its assorted shenanigans or you will vehemently want nothing to do with it, and assumption number two is that the only possible way to critique a slice of cinema in this franchise is to compare it to the other installments. When taking those assumptions into account for the latest installment, and slice of cinema I am reviewing today, Jackass Forever, the first one should be quite obvious because if you disliked to any extent the prior films then this one will not be the one to win your over since it is by and large more of the same ol, same ol. On the other hand if you are like me who loved the other installments then I promise you will really appreciate and enjoy getting to reunite with the majority of the OG gang of pranksters plus a few new faces as they engage in shenanigans that may make you wince, but will also have you laughing like nobody’s business.
Now going so far as to even try to compare this installment to the previous trio (plus or minus Bad Grandpa dependent entirely on the individual), this latest slice of cinema is honestly quite impressive in what it sets out to do. Indeed besides introducing us to a small group of new kids on the block who are just as passionate and energetic about engaging in these stupidly silly yet engaging shenanigans as the OG members of the cast, this follow-up shows that even in the face of a solid decade-plus having come and gone OG franchise stars Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Wee Man, Preston Lacy, “Danger” Ehren McGhehey, and Dave England are still able to engage in these demented schemes like no time has passed at all. Indeed these hilariously scheming band of merry guys have honestly been doing this for over 2 decades as of this writing and the amount of dedication to this is not only consistently comedic, but quite inspiring as well. Sure this slice of cinema might not have the scope the first three did nor is there as much pranking of completely random people, thank you COVID, but that actually works to the film’s benefit as it really permits this installment to focus more of its shenanigans on its group of players and give fans of the franchise more of what they have come to see. Namely to put these people through as much physical torture and misery as their body can handle without outright killing them with a special if not perverted fascination with causing as much pain as possible to a…particular bodily organ. A fascination that is revealed when, within no less than the first trio of shenanigans that unfold there is literally a trivia contest that sees its contestants trying to answer questions a 4th grader should know and for every one they get wrong being hit in that area by a mechanical arm. Yet another thing that I really appreciated is the level of variety present in the shenanigans in this slice of cinema. Indeed some of them are straight up trials of endurance like one where the participants must stay quiet even as they have to smooch a snake that is most assuredly NOT non-venomous or having things dropped on their ankles. Other times the shenanigans are straight-up pranks like one inspired by the end of Silence of the Lambs where those involved are stuck in a pitch-black room whilst being hunted by the other people who are all wearing night vision goggles. Of course then there are others where it’s just about putting on some kind of show for the audience like one where Johnny Knoxville puts on some homemade angel wings and is then launched out of a canon that is facing a lake. Suffice it to say that slice of cinema is an engaging circus of insanity and right from the word go it is many things, but dull is certainly not one of those things.
It’s also worth praising this slice of cinema for how it doesn’t hold back when it comes to putting the OG cast through the wring and it is consistently impressive how far they are willing to go. Indeed when this franchise got its start as a TV series in the late 90s/ early 2000s, everybody in the main cast were all in their upper 20s (thus acting almost like the surrogate older brothers that only children like me wish we had). With that in mind though, I think it would be to some degree understandable if the OG cast that comes back for this chose to not go to the extremes that they had done previously since they are all starting to get closer to 50 and instead put the new kids on the block through the wringer, but the OG cast in this really do have a distinct type of artistic honesty that only this franchise manages to possess. Indeed you really get the vibe that this slice of cinema would not be nearly as good as it is if every single person was not willing to do whatever it takes to make these pratfalls work on the level that they do and that level of commitment really is a big reason this slice of cinema is as magical as it is. I mean I’m sure that de-facto cast leader Johnny Knoxville might be on his local hospital’s VIP list, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to try and engage in one shenanigan that deals with an angry bull and only Steve-O can still inspire laughter courtesy of being trapped in a porta-potty that just exploded. Yet if you want to put a label of “Top Dog” to anyone in the cast, I think the honor should be given to “Danger” Ehren McGhehey for being extremely effective as both a voluntary participant and an unfortunate victim of the various shenanigans with a reimagining of the infamous Cup Test proving to be just as funny this time around and a shenanigan dubbed The Lie Detector instantly becoming an iconic moment in this franchise albeit one that must be seen to be believed. Suffice it to say that whenever this guy is the focus of a shenanigan that is occurring get ready to laugh because stuff is about to go down. Yet as wonderful as it was to see the OG gang come back for this slice of cinema, this movie does gamble a little bit by bringing in some new kids on the block to participate, but it is a gamble that works out beautifully. I mean I don’t know exactly what the audition process consisted of (and to be honest I kind of do), but they were obviously successful as the new kids on the block Sean “Poopies” McInerney, Davon Lamar Wilson a.k.a. Jasper, Zach “Zackass” Holmes, Rachel Wolfson, and Eric Manaka all manage to show that they can work on the same level as the OG cast and also make an audience laugh like no one’s business as they engage in such acts of stupidity like getting a lip injection from an angry scorpion or in attempting to soar over a group of cacti using a kite.
All in all I am pleased to let you know dear reader that the slice of cinema that is Jackass Forever is a delightfully nostalgic success that also, astonishingly, functions remarkably well as a member of the cinema community known as the requel. Indeed by being our introduction to a new generation of cast members whilst also bringing back the majority of the group of guys that have been around since the beginning while also giving us delightful throwbacks from earlier in this franchise like a redo of such an iconic skit as The Cup Test, this slice of cinema is one that actually fits in quite well with the land of movie magic’s current haul of “requel” titles to say nothing of being able to conjure up a distinct charm that the previous films in this series might not have possessed especially if you’re like me and you grew up with this series. Indeed this is one 2022 slice of cinema that managed to remind me of what it was like to be a 12 year old with a juvenile sense of humor and watching this movie with friends and laughing my unholy butt off viewing such gems as Steve-O playing a fish courtesy of a inserting a fish hook in his mouth and then jumping in the water, some of the gang getting in a ball pit with a very grumpy and vicious anaconda, and Johnny Knoxville getting bit on a very sensitive chest area by a baby alligator to name but a few of the gems seen in prior installments. Suffice it to say that if you are like me and you can look back at this franchise with a fairly high degree of fondness then I think you will find quite a bit to enjoy seeing these living literal crash test dummies go back to the antics that have made them icons to a generation of people…and inspired quite a few of the more idiotic ones to maybe do things their bodies have never quite forgiven them for. On a scale of 1-5 I give Jackass Forever a solid 4 out of 5.