Twenty years ago “Jackass” made the death-defying leap from TV to the big screen. After the third installment in 2011, most believed the gang to be too old to continue their reckless and often hilarious behavior. But, in an act of sheer defiance, most of the gang has returned to show that some things never change.
“Jackass Forever” has reportedly been the most problematic film in the series. It was filmed over the course of a few years, partially due to COVID, but also because of problems with former Jackass member Bam Margera who was removed from the project after filming had begun. Then there were the injuries. Steve-O received the worst concussion of his life in a bit with a high-speed treadmill. Johnny Knoxville doesn’t participate in as many stunts as before, but a return to the bullpen left him with multiple broken bones and permanent brain damage. Hearing these stories left me wondering if they were now too old for their special brand of immaturity. Would this “Jackass” be more sad than funny?
My fears were quickly crushed as one of the most creative opening credits I’ve ever seen played out. Not only are the veterans just as funny, insane, and disgusting as ever, they even managed to recruit some fresh blood. Like the previous “Jackass” films, this isn’t a movie as much as it is a collection of clips that vary (massively) in tone and length. There is no narrative, just a promise to show you things you’ve never seen before. Occasionally it’s easy to surmise the outcome of a gag before it happens, but even then these guys manage to subvert expectations. Some of the best bits appear to start out one way but then quickly become something very different. Even better, the subject is often unaware and caught in a terrifying bait and switch. You’d think some of them would know to be less trusting by now and to expect the unexpected, but I guess once you’ve agreed to take a polygraph test while wearing a shock collar you don’t anticipate things becoming much, much more intense.
It should be mentioned that if you haven’t watched the “Jackass” TV show or movies before, this is not the one to start with. For some, these antics are the most disgusting, offensive things shown on screen. But for the fans, this is a hilarious, creative, insane, last hurrah that is best seen in a theater full of other deviants.