‘Jackass Forever’ review: Welcome to the male members only club [Grade: B+]
Both hilarious and utterly senseless, the latest Jackass plays like a frenzied, feature-length fails video. MTV’s Jackass has enjoyed endless spin-offs, both the big and small screen. Their latest big screen endeavour comes over ten years after Jackass 3D, the franchise’s last film, which was released in 2010 amidst Hollywood’s long-dead 3D craze. Now, after a tumultuous couple of years of numerous filming and release date delays, Jackass Forever has arrived and it is worth the wait. It’s a fun watch, yet it’s almost always excruciating as one is forced to watch Jackass’ rag-tag team go through the absolute ringer. The stakes of the stunts are not only raised due to the core cast having aged, but because of their new colleagues having to do a range of far more extreme gags that threaten to put them on a stretcher. As the film’s title suggests, Jackass is forever and Johnny Knoxville and the gang will probably be pulling these ludicrous, crude stunts into old age.
As usual, Knoxville and the gang are back to blowing each other up in porta-potties, dumping disgusting liquids, testing each other’s nerves around deadly animals, and a whole lot of male nudity. Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man and Chris Pontius, among others, lead the dare defying group with a batch of new faces joining the filming, they are; Sean “Poopies” McInerney, Zach Holmes, Jasper Dolphin, Erik Manaka, and Rachel Wolfson. Along with celebrity guest stars; Eric Andre, Machine Gun Kelly, and Tyler, the Creator. Despite the continued, ridiculous brilliance of Steve-O, Ehren McGhehey and Wee Man, it’s Poopies and Zach Holmes who steal the show. The two new cast members are put through some seriously kooky atrocities, their reactions are endlessly entertaining, especially as they realize, every time, how short-sighted they were to accept each challenge.
Keeping to the home-video, documentary style of shooting that has always been commonplace, Jackass Forever continues the trend as director Jeff Tremaine and his camera crew utilize a range of varying quality cameras to capture their absurd footage, no matter the cost. Given the preposterous nature of their acts, it makes sense that they have always opted for lower quality as big, heavy, professional gear would probably break and cost a hell of a lot. It’s actually part of the MTV production’s charms. As evidenced in the film, they will do whatever it takes to get the shot, performance-wise that would include being punched in the scrotum continuously, despite being pummelled just before. The use of slow motion can be quite startling at times as the film replays what just went down, it’s a smart tool that’s used to emphasize just how dramatic and insane their actions are. It’s clear that Jackass’ team behind the camera, who regularly make the occasional comical appearance, are always on their toes ready to get the perfect shot to highlight every stunt in a dramatically comic way. Whether that be through many disturbingly tight close-up of male genitalia or a slow motion shot of the newly-revamped cup test which now involves a pogo stick, it works to create an extreme audience reaction.
What Jackass Forever does that its predecessors didn’t do is make, almost, everyone take their junk out and use it in some form of stunt. Nearly all the main cast members are naked at some point, barring the notable exception of Johnny Knoxville. Steve-O, along with Ehren McGhehey’s cup test, has what might be the most literal balls-to-the-wall feat of the film. It includes a swarm of bees and his genitalia, we’ll just say that. Needless to say, it is painful to watch. There is something subversive to Jackass Forever‘s open and endless display of male genitalia, it highlights it as something fragile and quite un-masculine. This is just one of the ways that the franchise contests Hollywood and its baked-in imagery of male genitalia as something inherently masculine. While, traditionally, torturing oneself, or going off to battle, is a uniquely male way of proving their masculinity. But for the Jackass gang, it’s quite the opposite; their pain is to be laughed at, not to be commended. With the abundance of male nudity on-screen, it becomes vividly clear that Jackass has a serious lack of female performers. The core cast, despite being diverse, is almost exclusively men and only two women perform any sort of stunts in Jackass Forever, but it’s always been a boys’ club. The Jackass formula has stayed the same for many years, which successfully garnered attention from a young-skewing, male-orientated audience, perhaps it’s time for a change. Catering for their female audience surely wouldn’t be a bad step, in fact, it could reinvent the real-life stunt franchise.
Less faeces and vomiting, this new worthy entry to the Jackass franchise revs the scale up by quite a few notches. Jackass Forever is a hugely entertaining ride that knows exactly what it’s trying to be, never shying away from its lewd nature which they know their audience adores. The winks, nods and spontaneity, like the film’s cameraman vomiting on two separate occasions, add for a joyously self-reflexive experience that should be adored in the TikTok-driven world that we, supposedly, live in. There is a clear audience for this feature-length film that’s structured like a playlist of YouTube videos, playing back-to-back. Kick back and enjoy.
Paramount will release Jackass Forever in the U.S. only in theaters on February 4, 2022.
Photo: Sean Cliver