When Jackass first aired on MTV ten years ago it’s doubtful that anybody thought it would still be going strong and on it’s third theatrical film at this point. Yet here we are with the release of Jackass 3D, which sees Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Wee Man and all the rest doing what they do best. That of course is hurting themselves and each other in the most creative ways possible. Armed with 3D effects and some of their most outlandish ideas yet the team are back in high fashion. Naturally there’s no story, it’s just a long sequence of one stunt or prank after another.
One would think the Jackass well would have run dry by now. Not only have these guys been at it for years, but they’re hardly the only kids on the block anymore. Videos of people (mostly men) doing stupid and painful things to themselves and each other are all over the internet for free. However the simple truth is that the guys from Jackass did it first, and they still do it better. Mostly it comes down to creativity. Anybody can get a video camera and film their friends kicking them in the crotch. But it takes a very special kind of mind of make a giant “High Five” hand that smacks their friend in the face as they come down the hall. There’s really a certain intangible and hypnotic beauty in what happens to somebody’s face when they’re smacked in slow motion. And what really makes it easy to enjoy that these guys really love what they do. Even when caught off guard by something that hurts (as with the aforementioned “High Five”) their first reaction is to laugh and say “You got me.” The pranks, while often painful, are never mean spirited and they’re between friends who understand each other.
The 3D aspect of Jackass 3D is surprisingly well done. Unlike many of the live action 3D films this year, such as Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender, this movie was actually shot with a 3D camera. It’s not post conversion which results in sub-par 3D effects, this is the real deal. However it should be pointed out that the film is not in 3D from start to finish. Some stunts where the camera was at risk of being damaged or had to be moved about quickly couldn’t be shot with the 3D cameras. Thankfully the switches from 3D to 2D and back are not as jarring as one would think. When the 3D is used the group make good use of it, angling the shots so debris or flailing bodies are hurled at the audience in a way that enhances the insanity and the humor.
It should be said that not every prank and stunt in Jackass 3D is total home run, though thankfully none of them fail completely. There’s also more than a little bit in this movie that will make people of a more sensitive disposition rather nauseous. First there’s the copious amounts of male front nudity and then there’s all the bodily functions and fluids on display (honestly it’s rather astounding this didn’t get rated NC-17.) Generally any given stunt or prank will either be painful or gross, and in both cases they go all out. However those who can stomach the grossness that abounds will likely find themselves doubled over with laughter. The film starts to lose a little bit of steam by the end (most of the best bits are in the first half.) But at a brisk 90 minutes it ends on a high note and doesn’t drag on into oblivion.
Ultimately Jackass 3D is exactly what it appears to be. It’s the same sort of stunts and pranks that the Jackass guys have always done, only this time it’s popping out of the screen. That is the film in a nutshell, no more and no less. Most viewers probably already know how they feel about the kind of antics that the Jackass guys get up to. If their brand of self punishment doesn’t peak your interest then this just isn’t worth your time. But if you’ve ever chuckled away the early morning hours to the inane antics of Johnny, Bam, Steve-O and the rest then you need to get to a theater. This is film that if it’s going to be seen at all needs to be seen in 3D with a large audience who can groan, gag and cheer at every unbelievable moment.
Final Score: 4 out of 5