The gang behind MTV’s hit show Jackass saw their star power rise rapidly in the early 2000s. The stunt-prank-comedy show lasted three seasons and gave us hilarious and iconic skits like “Party Boy” and “The Cup Test”, and made Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, and other members of the crew household names.
Following the show’s end, they got their own movie with Jackass: The Movie, which basically played like an hour-and-a-half-long episode with some additional funding. The success of the film prompted two sequels, including the third film in 2010 that was filmed in 3D and is, for this critic’s money, one of the best uses of 3D technology he has ever seen on film.
Throughout the three seasons of Jackass on TV and the three movies, we watched these men go through insane stunts that were equal parts hilarious, disgusting, and dangerous. They were constantly beaten, battered, bruised, and covered in feces all for the sake of comedy and entertainment. But regardless of the stunt, whether it was Knoxville getting pummeled by a bull in the “Toro Totter” stunt from the second film or the entire cast getting smashed in the face by a giant hand in the third film, everyone would get back up and move on to the next stunt, while those not in the sketch would hysterically laugh at their friend’s expense. Sure, they would yell or curse if they were in extreme pain or if they were scared and there are numerous reports of the injuries these guys have sustained over the years, but we barely saw the aftereffects of any of these stunts on screen.
That has changed in Jackass Forever, the latest and most likely final entry in the Jackass saga, which shows our lovable gang of maniacs, all in their late forties/early fifties, and some new faces, doing the same insane stunts and pranks that they were pulling off twenty years ago when the show first aired. Every stunt in the movie is hilarious. There are a number of new and creative sketches, like “The Silence of the Lambs”, where various members of the crew get trapped in a pitch-black room with traps and a fake poisonous snake slithering throughout the room as Knoxville shoots the entire thing in night-vision, a la the scariest scene in The Silence of the Lambs. They also do upgraded versions of some classics, like “The Cup Test 2.0”, in which “Danger” Ehren McGhehey tests out an athletic supporter against the likes of a fast-speed softball pitch, a pogo stick, and a slap shot from NHL payer PK Subban. It’s all great stuff and I was laughing constantly throughout the whole movie.
But unlike the previous films, Jackass Forever shows us some of the injuries these guys sustained during their stunts. There’s the “Marching Band” skit, in which Knoxville, Steve-O, and several other members of the group play large instruments while stepping onto a large, high-speed treadmill. At the end of this sketch, we see Steve-O on a gurney with a neck brace, an image I never thought I’d ever see from a man who once walked a tight rope over a pit of alligators. There is also “The Magic Trick”, where we watch Johnny Knoxville attempt to do some sort of magic, only to be run over by a bull. Knoxville flips one-and-a-half times in the air, only to land on his head. We see Knoxville knocked out cold, barely moving, and his eyes in a blank state. He’s put on a stretcher, where he utters, “did we get it?”, asking director Jeff Tremaine if they got the shot, as only a showman would before being sent to the hospital. Knoxville sustained a broken wrist, a broken rib, a concussion, and a brain hemorrhage in this stunt, without a doubt the most injuries we have ever seen from a person on Jackass.
Seeing these injuries was a stark reminder of the mortality of the seemingly immortal Jackass crew, something that we rarely ever thought about while watching them perform. It shows that these legends of stunt comedy are older now and that their time has passed. Though there is a new crop of stunt comedians in the film, there will never be anyone like the Jackass crew. They changed the stunt-comedy game forever and Jackass Forever shows why these guys are the best and the sacrifices they make to make us and themselves laugh.
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