Jackass: The Movie Review
Perhaps Jackass has more to say about popular culture than it’s given credit for. In a time where record companies are so desperate in their search for the next big money maker they have to pimp hopefuls through reality television shows, and milk screen time so their targets are already ‘big’ in the industry even before they’ve released a song, ‘reality’, or what they want us to perceive as ‘reality’ has become a staple diet of prime time viewing. Yet the media is only pandering to what we desire, and it becomes apparent that a fight in the ‘Big Brother’ house, or a ‘Pop Idol’ hopeful singing woefully and being told they’ve got no future, shows that what we really want is to laugh cold-heartedly at other people’s misfortune. Maybe, especially post 9-11 (a day that became a media event in itself), we want ‘misfortune’: the controlled, coordinated, safe type - we can now smile at, rather than cry.
Jackass: The Movie is the quintessential embodiment of that idea. Disregarding the fact the show acts like homoerotic sadomasochism (an element I hope isn’t an attraction for the majority), these unadulterated violent, sick and depraved acts that our intrepid hosts endeavor with careless abandon, bring us many enforced accidents, clear instances of pain, humiliation, juvenile jokes and pranks, and piss-takes, all captured in a ‘reality’ based world with jittery, hand-held digital cameras. Yes, caught on camera we see people getting hurt but at least for the ninety or so minutes this film runs for, we can unashamedly laugh our arses off! However, trying to theorize Jackass’ main ‘pull’, on indeed ‘why’ the show even exists is like driving a car blindfolded. Ultimately, you get the distinct impression these guys took Joel Goodsen up on his word, and go about their 'risky' business thinking ‘what the fuck!’
The film, based on the TV show of the same name, was born out of the warped minds of Spike Jonze (director of Being John Malkovich) and Johnny Knoxville, inspired in part from a show called ‘CKY’ featuring Bam Margera amongst others (who would become regular’s on the show), where the pro-skater and friends would get up to all kinds of pratfalls and mischief. Other MTV comedy series’ like The Tom Green Show, would also stand as major influences on the show getting created and green lit. ‘Jackass’ would pretty much search out the audience that had so faithfully stuck by Jerry Springer, and grab them as soon as they switched channels when Jerry’s ‘Final Thought’ would come-up on screen.
Basically ‘The Movie’ is a feature-length version of the TV show that has some added spice that couldn’t be aired on television. It’s always going to be a difficult task transferring a thirty-minute show that works via quick skits to grab viewer’s attention while they’re flicking through 300 channels, to a 90 minute film that isn’t broken up by advertisement breaks and governed by a trusty remote control. However, director Jeff Tremaine and the production staff (Jonze and Knoxville), show no signs of struggling to bring their small-screen show to the big screen. Jackass: The Movie keeps the funny moments coming, racing along at a pretty good pace, and while it perhaps could be cut by about fifteen minutes (some ideas don’t work, and others become repetitive), it contains enough stand-out moments to make it memorably entertaining. Some of the best sketches in the film include: ‘Rent-a-car Crash Derby’, ‘The Muscle Stimulator’, ‘Fireworks Wake-up’, ‘Hardware Store Crap’, ‘Bam’s Mom Says Fuck’, ‘Department Store Boxing’ and ‘Golf Course Airhorn’. That said, the appeal here only reaches fans of the show and isn’t likely to coax more admirers into Knoxville and Co’s style of comedy, but it does have enough quality (if you can call it that) to stand-up as a feature-length compliment to the already successful series.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and is perfectly respectable taking into consideration the source material. A lot of the secret cameras lack clarity and suffer minor problems related to video tape, but the use of high quality digital cameras offer a supreme image that has sharpness, detail and depth. The new master print is in excellent condition, displaying vibrant colours without print damage.
The sound is presented as English Dolby Digital 5.1, but is a mainly front-orientated, dialogue strong track. The dialogue is clear and well separated, and while there are some elements present in the rear channels, these are kept to a minimum.
Audio Commentaries - Two screen-specific commentaries are presented on the DVD. The first features Johnny Knoxville with the director and cinematographer, and is mainly a anecdotal track with bits and pieces of information regarding the film’s production, and a lot of friendly sarcasm. There’s plenty to enjoy here, and while there are a few moments of silence, there’s some really funny stories to be heard.
The second commentary features the rest of the cast, and comes across as a bunch of friends just having a laugh. While again, there’s some interesting information about the film’s production, some of the things they talk about passes by anyone who doesn’t know them in person.
The Making Of Jackass: The Movie - A good ‘making of’ that has some behind-the-scenes stuff that reveals just how much preparation goes into the stunts – none. We get to see the guys trying to tell the camera operators how to operate the cameras, and sound tests by throwing someone into a wall. This well-produced twenty-five minutes is enjoyable viewing mainly because it leans on jokes, rather than any really useful cinematic information.
Outtakes - Seven minutes of pretty funny outtakes – gross, humiliating, sick – pretty much what you expect.
Deleted Scenes - 28 minutes of footage that didn’t make it into the film. There’s some hit and miss scenes here, but it acts like an episode of the show, and the high points make it worth watching. The sketch ‘Pocket Ass Return’ is priceless!
Promo Spots, Theatrical Trailer, Cast and Crew Bios, Picture Gallery, and Music Videos - The promo spots are funny little sketches, while the other items are pretty much what you’d expect. The music videos are for ‘If You’re Gonna Be Dumb’ by Roger Alan Wade, and ‘We Want Fun’ by Andrew W.K.
Subtitle Information* - The main feature includes subtitles in English and in English for the hearing impaired. There are also English subtitles for the commentaries.
Fans of the show will find everything they desire on this DVD – not only do you get a particularly good movie version of the TV series, but extra sketches (many of which are very funny), behind-the-scenes stuff and a couple of funny commentaries from all the regulars.