That’s what friends are for – Jackass 3 review

Jackass 3D – Starring Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera and Steve-O. Directed by Jeff Tremaine. Rated MA. Originally published November 2, 2010. By Simon Miraudo.

Jackass 3 may not be smart comedy, but it is genuine comedy, and it wouldn’t work an iota if its cast wasn’t so damn likable. They’re your idiot friends from high school. We may have matured and moved on with our lives, but running into them once again – full of vim and vigour; oblivious of their public perception – conjures wistful pangs. Jackass 3 is a reminder of our long-gone adolescence. Johnny Knoxville and his cohorts are like Peter Pan and the Lost Boys: forever young, and blindly taking flight into the great unknown. And yes, this is how I actually feel about a movie that features a stunt called “The Helicockter”.

Director Jeff Tremaine and producers Spike Jonze and Knoxville have gotten the band back together for a third instalment in their delightful daredevil saga. “Professional” stuntmen/jackasses Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Preston Lacy, Ryan Dunn, Dave England, Jason “Wee Man” Acuna and Ehren McGhehey all return to use and abuse their bodies like fleshy crash test dummies for our amusement. I won’t list the various scenarios and stunts they undertake – they’re enjoyable because they’re surprising (also, many are unprintable). However, if you’re unfamiliar with the exploits carried out by the Jackass crew, they basically involve the cast hurting and humiliating one another in creative (“Beehive tetherball”) and occasionally uncreative (“Lamborghini tooth pull”) ways. Sometimes, they just try to gross us out (“Sweatsuit cocktail”). It’s hilarious.

There isn’t any hidden depth to Jackass 3 that makes it more powerful than the previous instalments, or the MTV show upon which the films are based. If you’re not already a fan, this won’t be the film to convert you. However, for those of us who have gleefully enjoyed watching the Jackass team since they were wide-eyed upstarts in the early-noughties, Jackass 3 offers a touching undercurrent. At first it’s jarring to see our stars no-longer as boys but as men in their late 30s. They have families now; wives and children. Should they really keep doing this stuff? Are they just here to pick up a pay check? These concerns subside as the stunts progress. As they increase in both madness and hilarity, it becomes apparent just how much fun the cast are having together.

These guys care for one another, and we care for them. They never cross the line amongst themselves (although it should be noted that their ‘line’ does not meet the traditional societal standards); when Ehren politely asks if they can stop one particularly painful exercise (I believe it involved a bucking donkey), his cohorts immediately call it quits on his behalf. When stunts go awry, the audience doesn’t laugh, but instead gasp, terrified that the horseplay has left our stars seriously injured (they never do). Jackass is comedy without an inch of malice, cruelty or cynicism. Its stars may be driven to hurt one another, but they do so with giant, authentic grins, and always end with a cuddle. The Jackasses are modern day clowns; vaudevillian entertainers. Although they lack the clever finesse of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, they are working towards the same goal: getting the laugh at all costs, even at their own expense.

Jackass 3 is a cinematic experience, and a gimmicky one at that (a fact amplified here with the hilariously inappropriate and ingenious use of 3D technology, almost specifically used to shoot bodily fluids onto the audience). We are meant to watch this with an eager audience, or at home surrounded by like-minded friends. It does not herald the end of film culture as we know it, so relax. Liking it does not make you an idiot (and that goes for liking ANY film by the way; don’t let anyone tell you different). It’s not exactly a valuable contribution to cinema culture, but that’s by the by. If Jackass 3 is “about” anything (and I know I’m reaching), perhaps it’s a celebration of camaraderie. These ten kids collided, become an international phenomenon, and now – as men – are literally cheating death for our entertainment. They are bound together, forever. They’re not hard bitten or angry. They love this stuff. And they love doing it with each other, and to each other.

3.5/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

Jackass 3 arrives on DVD and Blu-ray March 17, 2011.

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