Rated R because I can't even say the title in front of my kids. If you are reading this to wonder if Jackass Forever is okay to show to your kids, it absolutely isn't. It has the most nudity ever. It has so much nudity that you get used to people showing off genitals on camera. There's also vomit and feces, per expectations with a Jackass film. Language and violence and people doing horrible things to their bodies. Yeah, Jackass Forever is not okay for your kids to watch. R.
DIRECTOR: Jeff Tremaine
I suppose it is kismet (or my subconscious screaming) that I write about Jackass Forever after finishing my last Academy Award nominated film for 2021, Parallel Mothers. I spent a month and change constantly watching films that were being recognized for being art (for the most part) and maybe I needed to purge. But it also inspired me to write about the value of low art.
Someone told me that there was an article about the death of art with the release of Jackass Forever. While I acknowledge that if the only thing that aliens absorbed about human arts and culture was a Jackass movie, there would be a complete standstill in terms of cultural advancement because we would be left so far behind as a lesser culture. But with all that in mind, I think the Jackass movies serve to do something that we desperately need to do as a culture: stop faking it. We all need a really good laugh and that's what Jackass does. Jackass Forever is one of those movies that makes you belly laugh alone and cry laughing, holding your side if you are with a group of people. That may not seem like a lofty ambition, but there is absolutely value in it. Because Jackass doesn't really view itself as art, despite the fact that there are some oddly artistic people behind the world of Jackass. I'm mostly looking at Spike Jonze here, but there's more than that.
The reason that society allows for Jackass movies are two-fold. One of them is insidious. There is a large percentage of the population who thrive in standing unchallenged. I'm going to come across as the ultimate snob, probably not for the first time (today), but a lot of people hate growing as people. For this crowd, Jackass Forever is detrimental. it doesn't challenge in the least, but that responsibility doesn't really fall on Jackass Forever either. But the other end of the spectrum is the second reason that Jackass Forever exists and needs to exist is to remind us what it is like to be with friends. Now, the Jackass crew seems to be a specific kind of friendship that boys have in high school and college. But that friendship is very real. When watching the boys from Jackass prank each other in the most painful fashions, I feel like I'm there, thankful to God that they aren't turning their attention my way. Because, while they are hurt --often quite badly --they are mostly laughing. There's a sense of pride of being in this group and getting hazed. It's the consensual attitude of challenging each other to bring their A-games.
And everyone settles into roles because it makes them happy. These are things that I would never in a million years do, but I appreciate and love because they have so much fun. Never do these Jackass movies seem like a chore, which is an absolute marvel. The second one of these things happened to me, I would be kvetching to anyone who would listen, complaining about the toxic attitude around me. But fiction has tried to capture these traits in fictional pieces like Tag and it never really seems to work. This is drinking from the tap and expressing a joie de vivre that I don't think we get in cinema anymore. Yeah, there's no greater message that is written on purpose, but the theme is one of the bonds of friendship. Jackass Forever is a reminder that childhood joy is always possible even in people who are greying and brittle, as shown by Johnny Knoxville's trip to the hospital. It's honestly admirable. But it is also a reminder that we are still close to those we lose. While Ryan Dunn isn't addressed until the credits, I have to imagine that performing some of these stunts reminded the cast of the good times they had with their lost friend.
But it is also interesting to see the inclusion of what I consider to be Jackass: The Next Generation. Man, I have so many thoughts but so few words (we'll see!) to express something about these kids. At the beginning of the TV shows and films, Knoxville warns the audience to not try any of these stunts with your dumb little buddies. Of course, there was always going to be those who took that warning as a challenge, as I think the cast of Jackass always intended. But it is funny to see these characters deal with reality in real time. There are four add-ons to the crew that stand out, but I only want to talk about Poopies. Yeah, he goes by "Poopies" the entire movie and that's the best part about him. They literally say his name and I start giggling (because I'm not afraid of looking absurd to people.) Poopies seems like he was built to be part of the Jackass crowd. He has this self-flagellating nickname, like Wee-Man, and seems like he's down to clown. But every time that people start looking at him to do something in the movie, there's an honest look of fear. Something became very real for him with this movie that I don't think that he was prepped for before. Maybe he thought that his name would carry him for the entire film because his name is very funny, but I might have more in common with Poopies than anyone else in the movie. He hasn't been conditioned that anything here is normal. The fear that he experiences is real. Yet, there's a percentage of him that is joyful as heck. He's hanging out with the people who modeled him to be who he is, as goofy as that is.
I really hated when Martin Scorsese attacked Marvel for being the death of cinema. Cinema is more than one thing. Now, I tend to watch high art more than I don't. But I don't like that people crap on movies like this. Yeah, you need to watch more than Jackass Forever. But the fact that a movie can make you feel like you are hanging out with your dumb little buddies, carefree, is something very special. As long as you are challenging yourself, watch a Jackass movie from time to time. They are really funny. Sure, they are really raunchy, but that's not the worst thing in the world either.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.