Thursday, December 2, 2010
Jackass 3D ***
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn
Chris Pontius, Jason "Wee Man" Acuña, Preston Lacy
Ehren McGhehey, Dave England
On the surface Jackass 3D is an unabashed celebration of human stupidity and more often than not that surface is all it's got.
For the past ten years, Johnny Knoxville and his troupe of, well, jackasses, have proved that stupidity isn't the only thing more infinite than the universe but there are also innumerable ways in which a human being can harm himself.
Their antics which are two parts drunken frat boy, a million parts exhibitionists often have them find ingenious ways to beat the shit out of themselves, particularly if they can find a way to hurt their penises (one has to wonder how, after all those kicks, any of these men are still able to reproduce).
Just this movie has Steve-O taking a punch in the nuts (which makes him wonder out loud "why do I have to be Steve-O?"), another guy get kicked in the groin by a donkey (during a clever sketch called simply "Pin the Tail on the Donkey) and Chris Pontius tying his own member to a control remote helicopter or "helicockter" as they prefer to call it here.
Other of their favorite pastimes involve feces, animals with horns and snakes usually filtered through homoerotic behavior and a relentless need to push themselves harder.
Watching a man glue himself to a midget or another drink a cocktail made out of a fat man's sweat could be, and usually is, utterly disgusting but there is something that makes us look.
Despite the revolting nature of almost every minute of film in Jackass 3D we find ourselves enthralled, hypnotized even by the constant displays of decadence and insanity.
The film taps into our innermost voyeur, one that needs to satiate his every guilty pleasure because the truth is that Jackass embodies what the movies were created for originally; for us to see things out of our wildest dreams or kinkiest thoughts, to experience things on the screen that we otherwise would never be able to know about.
This time around the 3D adds to the film because we feel closer to the action, it's not like audiences are dying to feel vomit or poop near them but truth be told, when Knoxville throws a bucketful of dildos at us we are experiencing the same kind of thing that we go to the summer blockbusters for.
The film of course never implies it's being some sort of postmodernist take on pleasure fulfillment, these men know they are the class clowns and as such try hard to make us laugh. They achieve this brilliantly on several occasions (the aforementioned donkey sequence is one of them and there's a man with anal talents you'd have to see to believe) and even when they fail the camaraderie between the men makes for some interesting observations on male behavior. See how Steve-O confesses he's terrified of bungee jumping yet has never had any trouble stapling things to his body or jumping off roofs in the nude. There are several moments in between sketches where the camera seems to capture these men at their most introspective, as if these stunts were ways for them to exorcise their own demons.
A scene involving a pit and snaked induces us, and one of the guys, to the kind of fear most horror flicks would love to achieve and yet these moments go by so fast and sometimes unnoticed that you might end up feeling guilty for watching this and enjoying yourself so much, instead of doing something more "productive".
The truth is that for all its celebration of stupidity and irrational behavior, Jackass 3D leads us to the interesting realization that we have become a culture that enjoys watching others in pain the difference is that we have conditioned ourselves to process it in different ways according to our preconceptions and biases.
If we saw a man on the news trying to calm down a ram by playing an instrument at him we probably would hear comments about how he's making a biological study, when we see it on Jackass we laugh our asses off when said man gets beaten by the ram.
For all of their silly energy and gremlin like behavior these men allow us to see a part of our world we fail to identify with, a part that we have learned to compartmentalize in order to suit our superegos...if only we can see past all the shit.