After 11 long and painful (or painless depending on who you ask) years the Jackass crew is back and bigger than ever. Jackass Forever is a critically acclaimed box office hit, but in a time when blockbuster cinema is more sanitised than ever, why would audiences flock to see grown men get naked and shit themselves? These four quotes from the film will explain.
‘This isn’t Mensa’
This is Eric Andre’s take on the cast of Jackass and truer words have never been spoken. No film has made me laugh more from credits to credits for dumber reasons than Jackass Forever. One of the funniest scenes is a quiz show segment hosted by Johnny Knoxville in which Poopies, Danger Ehren, and Wee Man must answer general knowledge questions correctly or get hit in the nuts. They all get their balls smacked multiple times but that’s not the beauty of this skit. The hilarity comes from watching fear overtake Ehren’s face as he struggles to spell dumbbell and from watching Poopies try to remember the name of the man who plays piano on Elton John’s albums.
Not all the set pieces are so low effort but they all employ the idiocy of its stars. Another highlight is the Silence of the Lambs skit in which two cast members are lured into a room thinking they will be doing a stunt with a venomous snake. Suddenly the lights go out, the doors are locked, and the snake is “let loose”. From here the prank builds and builds to a crippling crescendo of mouse traps and stun guns. Mensa members probably wouldn’t be dumb enough to trust anything Knoxville told them but they probably wouldn’t be tough enough too either.
‘We have our winners… and we have Steve-O’
Every member of the crew has sustained terrible injuries and been through turmoil but perhaps none more so than Steve-O. From burns to broken bones and a long struggle with addiction, Steve-O has overcome a multitude of issues and is now healthier than ever. But that doesn’t mean he can’t put himself through hell one more time. The most visually arresting scene in Jackass Forever is a stunt far scarier than anything in Candyman as a Queen Bee is attached to Steve-O’s penis and a whole hive soon swarms around it. This is an image my memory and manhood may never recover from and it’s not even the Steve-O stunt that made me wince the most during the film. That accolade belongs to the Skateboard Guillotine which adds a whole new meaning to the term shin splints. Steve-O may be healthier than ever but he’s still the man that has his own face tattooed on his back.
Steve-O is not the sole loser of the movie as 20 years later Lance Bangs is still puking, although it is now into a mask, which is better for the audience and probably worse for him. As always, no one seems to take more punishment than Danger Ehren. Whether it’s being hit in the testicles by Francis Ngannou, a “softball”, a hockey puck, or a pogo stick, no one has a worse time on film than Danger Ehren.
‘Pig cum? But I’m vegan’
No quote further sums up how much things have changed and stayed the same since Jackass debuted. Dave England may gladly get drenched in gallons of pig cum but he won’t eat it, thankfully Chris Pontius hasn’t matured that much. Even after his “boarkake”, England is all smiles, as this fourth film instalment is a softer and kinder Jackass movie. Maybe it’s because they haven’t done it for so long or because Bam Margera isn’t running around the set pissing on or punching people, but none of the cast members get angry at one another.
It also helps that the stunts no longer look like snuff films. The 4K super slow motion cameras do painstakingly and painfully pick up every vibration and ejaculation to the most minute detail. The sound is incredible too, especially a moment when Knoxville crashes down to earth and it sounds like a bomb has exploded in his calves. There are still gnarly stunts that leave Steve-O concussed and Knoxville haemorrhaging, but everyone seems truly on board to do them (even Danger Ehren). While the crew will never shy away from danger, they are now wise enough to take a back seat to a new generation of jackasses, sometimes.
Replacing the legendary cast of the original trilogy is an impossible task, but this crop of fans turned participants give it everything they have. The new members include the aforementioned Poopies, who is far funnier than his name suggests and slots perfectly into the Dave England/Steve-O skater role with his perfect mix of toughness and dumbness. There is also Jasper Dolphin from OFWGKTA who has more fun than anyone else on set. Resident big boy Zackass earned his spot in the crew due to years of imitating Jackass the right way on YouTube and torturing no one more than himself. Eric Manaka from Action Point reunites with Knoxville and shines in his few scenes and will hopefully feature more prominently in Jackass Forever.5. The MVP of not only the new crew but the whole movie is Rachel Wolfson who may be the most infallible person ever. Whether it’s being stung in the lips by a scorpion or licking a taser, she remains stoic while her comrades and audiences squirm vicariously.
These new performers get a not-so-warm welcome/send-off in the film’s incredible cinematic ending. Many of the stunts shown throughout the years have been inspired by Looney Tunes and Buster Keaton-style physical comedy but the final set piece is more akin to Apocalypse Now than animated antics. It is one of the best action sequences from a mainstream American movie in recent years mainly due to the absence of CGI. The explosions and the fear they instil in the cast are incredible but it’s the moment when Manaka returns to the battleground to rescue the trapped Jasper that gets to the heart of why we love Jackass.
‘Ryan Dunn Forever’
I mentioned at the top that Jackass Forever made me laugh nonstop between credit sequences but the end credits left me teary-eyed. After seeing all the cast age twenty years in twenty seconds, the film ends with a touching tribute to Ryan Dunn. Ryan sadly passed away in 2011 and this more than maturation is why there had been no new instalment since then. Every member of the group plays a pivotal role in the group, they all note that Knoxville is their leader, Steve-O will do anything, Bam is the prankster, Ehren and England are the butt of the jokes, Pontius is the Wild Boy, Preston the big man, and Wee Man the wee man. This alone is a tremendous troop, but Ryan is their heart and soul. Dunn would often have the most human reaction to being pranked; getting annoyed at first before quickly laughing it off and following his friends down whatever painful path they were on. In Jackass 3D, it is Ryan who helps Bam out of a snake pit when the joke has gone on long enough.
Getting back in front of the bull for one last rodeo with a crew of people they inspired is the perfect way to celebrate Dunn’s legacy. YouTube and Facebook pranksters may get millions of views for shouting nonsense in public or pushing paid actors into bushes but they’ll never have a celebrated 20-year career spanning multiple movies and television spin-offs. Jackass isn’t about seeing Steve-O play ping pong with his penis or watching Preston Lacy accidentally shit himself, although they are funny moments. Jackass is forever because of the friends that share an unbreakable bond no matter how many bones they break.
Jackass Forever is currently playing in cinemas.