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Jackass Forever Review: As Good As A Film About People Getting Punched In The Nuts Can Be

A shaky camera, frenetic cuts, whip pans, and crash zooms show a city besieged by a large green monster that looks a lot like a dick. It is a dick. It’s Chris Pontius’ dick dressed up as Godzilla – Cockzilla – maneuvered with puppet strings. People get blown up, thrown around in a portaloo, and covered in cum. The opening scene of Jackass Forever shows the cast hasn’t matured one bit in the ten years since Jackass 3D, and that’s exactly why we love them.

Jackass Forever is a series of stunts, perfectly paced as the bigger, more elaborate ones are punctuated by short clips of someone in a fist costume ramming a cyclist off their bike and Steve-O getting nailed with a volleyball as he unsuspectingly exits his trailer after taking a dump. This mix of long and short clips stops the slapstick humour from ever feeling repetitive or dull. My favourite gags were the simplest – an inflatable tube knocking someone over as they get coffee or Johnny Knoxville randomly tasing a member of the cast as they all laugh at someone else’s pain.

One set-piece saw Knoxville dressed up as a game show host while Aaron Homoki, Wee Man, and newcomer Poopies stand above what I can only describe as penis height flip flop mousetraps, designed to slap them in the gonads if they got a question wrong. The camera panned around to reveal the rest of the cast sat in a living room, watching giddily and laughing hysterically when Knoxville hit the wrong button, sending Homoki writhing to the ground. It’s clear they’d be doing this without the cameras present, and their energy and love for what they do are infectious.

There’s a cathartic joy in watching people’s misfortune – that’s why there’s a long German word for it and why You’ve Been Framed was so popular. It’s the cast and crew's ability to make themselves the butt of their own jokes that elevates Jackass above all the prank shows that followed in its wake throughout the 2010s. It’s funny when Zach Holmes runs out of a pitch-black room he believes contains a loose rattlesnake, only to get knocked down in a corridor full of hanging pots and pans because he’d do the same thing to the others. They all revel in their own and each other’s misfortune, thus giving us permission to join in.

Despite their love and experience, some stunts are simply too much for the crew to handle. Homoki – who will probably not be able to have children after the amount of punishment his nether regions took during this film – lays flat on the grass, wearing only a jockstrap and athletic cup as a pogo stick lands full force on his meat and two veg. It clips the side of his balls causing a tear in them that bleeds out, and the B camera whips around to capture the moment the main cameraman pukes into his covid mask before sheepishly asking for a new one. Every member of the screening with one audibly groaned and clutched at theirs for reassurance.

I know most directors say their films are best experienced in the cinema, and while you don’t necessarily need an IMAX screen to enjoy a large foam hand slapping someone into a pool, the atmosphere of a crowd definitely helps Jackass. As soon as Corona by Minutemen played over the skull and crutches logo I was hit with a wave of nostalgia. Laughing, cringing, and sometimes retching along with everyone else made me feel like a kid again, watching compilations of Jackass stunts on YouTube or reruns on Viva. It’s comforting to see Jackass withstand the test of time given the currently chaotic and miserable state of the world.

Old clips of the gang which show past attempts at stunts are interspersed with new footage of them now seeking to perfect them. It’s growth, in a way. They’re not more mature, but they’ve got a much bigger budget, meaning trying to light an underwater fart goes better than accidentally shitting in a bathtub like last time. They’ve also added newcomers like Poopie, Holmes, Odd Future founding member Jasper Dolphin, and their first female co-star Rachel Wolfson. They fit the bill perfectly and add a dash of fresh blood – often literally – to the more familiar cast. If anything, I wish the film were longer so everyone could get more screen time.

Celebrity cameos who are just as keen as the regulars to get in on the action keep everything from getting stale over the 104 minute run time. Some bring more life than others – Dolphin’s fellow Odd Future founder Tyler, the Creator and absurd comedian Eric André take to the dynamic naturally and give a hilarious boost to the scenes they’re in. Unfortunately, Machine Gun Kelly fails to stand out much and seems a bit lost among the seasoned stuntmen – it’s still funny watching him get smacked around at least. Unsurprisingly, plenty of beasties also make an appearance, but a disclaimer assures us that none were harmed in the making of the feature. Everyone’s genuine concern for the vulture picking meat out of Wee Man’s underwear proves that the cast, in true Jackass style, cares way more about the wellbeing of their animal co-stars than their human ones.

Their love for the craft and passion for silliness is what drives every stunt, set-piece, and gag in the film. It’s impossible not to join in on the fun and laugh and cringe as the Jackasses abuse themselves for our enjoyment and theirs. I’d rather Knoxville didn’t suffer brain damage for the sake of giving us all a few laughs, so I’m glad he finally decided to throw in the towel before getting himself killed. But, as I said before, they’d all be doing this even if the cameras weren’t rolling. Jackass Forever is the perfect send-off for him and the rest of the original cast, with a nice tribute to the late Ryan Dunn in the end credits. It isn’t Citizen Kane, but it’s as good as a film about people getting tased and punched in the dick could ever be.

Score: 4/5. An invitation to a media screening was provided by the film distributor

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