By Alec Toombs
“Jackass” debuted on MTV Oct. 1, 2000 when I was 18 years old. I thought it was hilarious. I was a worldly 21 when “Jackass: The Movie” premiered on Oct. 25, 2002 (old enough to legally drink beers beforehand!) … I was still tickled pink. By the time “Jackass Number Two” and “Jackass 3D” arrived I was 24 and 29 respectively and I was seeing these movies with women I was dating as opposed to my buddies. I was still amused … probably even more so by delighting in my dates’ disgust. Now I’m 40 and here comes “Jackass Forever” (currently in theaters) – I continue to laugh, but I do so with my cousin and a pal as my now-wife refuses to attend. You can take the man out of childhood, but you can’t take the child out of the man-child.
Original Jackasses Johnny Knoxville (50), Steve-O (47), Jason “Wee Man” Acuña (48), Chris Pontius (47), Dave England (52), Ehren McGhehey AKA Danger Ehren (45) and Preston Lacy (52) much like Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh in “Lethal Weapon” are getting too old for this shit. Therefore they’ve inducted new school Jackasses Sean “Poopies” McInerney (despite Poopies’ nickname this is easily the least scatological installment of the bunch), Jasper Dolphin, Zach Holmes, Rachel Wolfson (the first female Jackass), Eric Manaka and Compston “Darkshark” Wilson (Jasper’s Dad!) to help take part in the mayhem.
(Original Jackass Bam Margera shows up for one stunt (“The Marching Band” … I didn’t recognize him as the performers are uniformed and quickly dispatched), but was later fired from the production for failing a drug test. Margera’s folks Phil and April are sorely missed. The departed Ryan Dunn (my all-time favorite Jackass) is given a touching posthumous tribute during the closing credits.)
The movie leans heavily on the new guard and for the most part they’re up to the challenge. It’s cool to see a woman and people of color enter what’s historically been a white boys’ club and excel. I wish Wolfson were given more to do, but when she goes she goes hard (including tonguing a Taser and being stung in the lips and chin by a scorpion).
It’s probably good that the old school Jackasses take a backseat to the new school ones. (Knoxville broke a rib, his wrist and received a concussion during yet another stunt involving a bull.) The filmmakers sadly also recycle many gags from previous efforts. “The Triple Wedgie” and “Front Yard Sale Toilet” aren’t as funny because they aren’t as fresh. Ringleader Knoxville comes across slightly meaner here too. Where he once snuck up on people with a clipper to take a hunk outta their hair; he’s now tiptoeing on ‘em with a Taser. As an animal lover, the overreliance on including critters in stunts also made me a tad uncomfortable. (PETA is unsurprisingly pissed – article here.)
You likely already know if “Jackass Forever” is your particular poison or not. If you’re not already aboard for all this boorish behavior then this movie certainly ain’t gonna make you a convert. (My buddy complained that there was too much male nudity. I was like, “Dude, it’s a ‘Jackass’ movie! What do you expect?!!!” A recent marathon of the first three films in preparation for this review has prompted me to moon my wife much more frequently. Viva la male nudity!) It’s my least favorite flick of the four, but I was still thoroughly entertained throughout. It’s a stirring reminder that if you’re gonna dumb, you gotta be tough.