In 2019 Martin Scorsese said that Marvel movies aren’t cinema, so God only knows what he makes of the Jackass franchise. Launching with three seasons on MTV (2000-02), its painfully funny blend of pranks and stunts performed by Johnny Knoxville and his gleeful group of guffawing goons struck quite the chord. Three movies followed, plus spin-off TV shows and features.
Jackass Forever, the first film since 2010’s Jackass 3D, sees the guys return older but none the wiser, with stalwart director Jeff Tremaine and familiar faces Johnny, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Wee Man, Preston Lacy, et al joined by some new blood to freshen things up and sprinkle in some diversity. The likes of Jasper Dolphin and Rachel Wolfson acquit themselves well – Wolfson barely flinches as a scorpion stings her lips multiple times. Missing from the original line-up, meanwhile, is Ryan Dunn, who died in a car crash in 2011, and Bam Margera, forced to exit by addiction and legal issues.
Sadly, something else is missing too – the sense of camaraderie and anarchic brio that made Jackass such a joy. Sure, everyone chortles accordingly when Wee Man is given an extreme wedgie or Preston has his testicles pummelled, but the laughs are less raucous and spontaneous. At times, Jackass Forever feels more like Welsh copycat show Dirty Sanchez, in which the guys were less skilled and charismatic, their sketches upping the levels of physical abuse but ditching the imagination and humour.
Here, there’s a dearth of crazed, surreal set-ups, so when Johnny is loaded into a huge cannon and fired high in the sky to spread a pair of feathered wings like Icarus, it makes us pine for more. What we get is extra servings of shit, spunk, and vomit, plus an array of sketches using pissed-off animals – bears, bees, spiders, vultures, rattlesnakes – that make for discomforting viewing.
Beasts and bodily fluids have always been a large part of Jackass, but in Forever the balance is skewed. Perhaps the involvement of Spike Jonze, credited for concepts, is less, or maybe the luster, like hair, simply thins with age – for the performers and the viewers. Jackass Forever has laughs and thrills and will goose your nostalgia, but it’s like a modern-day Rolling Stones gig – the hits are replayed but satisfaction is elusive.
Jackass Forever is in cinemas from February 4. Check out all the upcoming movies to get excited for with our guide.
2 out of 5
Jackass Forever review: “Not such a great idea after all”
You’ll laugh, you’ll wince, you’ll retch… but you’ll perhaps wonder if Jackass ‘forever’ isn’t such a great idea after all