Jackass Number Two Review
"My God! Are you crying?" It's a question that Johnny Knoxville asks of Bam Margera after a 460 Stingmore Mine explodes mere feet in front of them and Ryan Dunn. A device that's normally used to quell riots outside of embassies, the 460 Stingmore has, in the words of ALS Technologies, approximately 700 .45-calibre rubber balls in it that fly out of it at 500 feet-per second. "Fuck that, dude!" is Margera's thoughts on the mine after seeing a demonstration of it, whilst Dunn offers, "Fucking Christ!", but line up they do, the three of them taking the 700 rubber balls between them, dropping to the ground the second the mine explodes. "Son of a...fuck you!" is Dunn's post-explosion thought on the matter while Margera, who's visibly crying, tells anyone who's listening, "I'm crying! I'm a fucking skateboarder and I'm getting shot!" Crying? You have to wonder if, "Are you dead?" might not be a better question.
Although, there is always the suspicion that what we see on the screen disguises the preparation for each stunt and the trained medic that's waiting nearby, at least in the bigger setpieces. The running naked through hotel rooms, the beer enema, the smelling of farts and the medicine-ball dodge ball (in a darkened room) are more good old-fashioned male bonding, whilst the drinking of horse semen and the eating of cow shit might well have come from an entirely different film altogether. I'm not a particular fan of Jackass, Viva La Bam, the Wildboyz or Dirty Sanchez but whilst there's no doubt people who'll enjoy all of this equally, Jackass: Number Two is only intermittently entertaining. Perhaps its that it takes the something-for-everyone approach or maybe it's that the stunts aren't as great as they ought to be but you'll be praising some of the shorter skits - man takes a shit in a dollhouse-sized bathroom - or skipping over the longer ones, including the two in which Spike Jonze dresses as an old woman who loses her clothes in public while Knoxville appears as a similarly-aged man whose balls hang down the back of his running shorts. Even in being as phobic about touch as the average thirtysomething man, I wouldn't have hung my head in shame at explaining what I was about to do before tucking them back into place, not running away from them as everyone does here. One day, perhaps forty years from now, I might well be thankful that someone felt the same.
The drinking of warm horse semen is something that, if you've any interest in the more extreme reaches of pornography, you'll already have seen. Personally, that came about from watching a woman of Scandinavian origin wanking off a stallion and glugging down what was produced but where that was grimly interesting - sordid, even, which you won't be surprised to hear - this is more entertaining, with Chris Pontius saying, "I'm completely ashamed of myself" as he smacks at the taste of warm horse semen still in his mouth. Steve-O vomits, Knoxville gags but the stallion looks pretty pleased with itself in spite of doing nothing more than rutting into a big leather-and-cloth condom. And there is a sufficient close up of horse dick to get some appreciation of the anatomy of it. But elsewhere, there's Bam Margera skating towards and sticking to a velcro-lined truck, Bam and Knoxville putting a hive full of bees into a limo containing Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Wee-Man and Dave England, Wee Man interrupting a corporate brainstorming session by walking naked through the room and Steve-O running, cartoon-style, onto a rake.
But where Jackass works best is in its complete absence of women. This is a film about guys getting naked, horsing around and making asses of themselves. When Bam Margera sits atop a Test Your Strength machine and takes a golden dildo up the ass, it makes a kind of sense. The attempt to do BMX-style stunts on penny-farthing bicycles isn't an unreasonable thing to do and the shock phone - a WWII field phone that generates an electric charge - will appeal to anyone who's put their tongue across the contacts of a battery. It's a, "What happens if..." kind of thing. This reaches a grand crescendo when Pontius, Knoxville, Dunn and guest stars Mat Hoffman and Mark Zupan attempt to launch themselves across a lake with rockets attached to their BMX bikes, wheelchair and shopping trolley. Anyone who, in their youth, attempted an Evel Knevel-styled jump with younger brothers and sisters and a makeshift ramp with appreciate their efforts. When Bam Margera appears at, in his own words, "some random ass ranch" and has a dick branded on his ass by Ryan Dunn, it's an, "Of course!" moment, with the guys marking their asses with dicks just like the ones that teenage boys doodle on desks. That his mother, April, later frets about the branding becoming infected is just the thing that the sketch needs for a proper ending.
It's stupid but it's also stupidly entertaining, not least when, as the stunt breaks down, the Jackass team just resort to hitting, tweaking and kicking one another, often in the balls. It's what the film needs to show that in amongst the violence they inflict on one another, they're actually just good mates and that regardless of the cameras being on them or not, they'd be doing this no matter what. Forty years from now, the Jackass retirement home will be one for the average geriatric to avoid, given that Knoxville, Margera and Dunn will be throwing semolina puddings at one another, daring one another to sleep with the most obese female resident, attaching firecrackers to their walking frames and urging one another to drink the contents of their catheter bags. You'll be glad that, as an alternative, Shady Oak Home beckons you elsewhere.
By absolutely no stretch of the imagination is this reference-quality material being taped on video but the DVD presentation is actually a very good one with the image being, if flat, sharp and with a sufficient amount of detail to show the turds, pierced scrotums and vomit in the kind of clarity that we demand of standard definition. Still, it is obvious that there's some drop in quality between a typical feature film and this but come the point when Preston drops a fresh dump into a tube leading to Steve-O's mouth and nose, you'll be past caring about slight problems with the picture. The DD5.1 audio track is, unfortunately, somewhat dull with there being some, albeit very little, use of the rear channels and only a small amount from the subwoofer. However, it sounds fine and though it's not the most exciting DVD you'll hear all year, it's clearly not meant to be.
Commentary: There's a fairly full cast for this track, including Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Ryan Dunn, Wee Man and so on, all of whom don't so much offer behind-the-scenes comments as simply laugh along with the picture and, given the absence of Bam Margera, are particularly merciless at his two moments of tear-inducing pain and fear. This isn't actually a bad listen with it being particularly good to hear the Jackass guys, notably Knoxville, not pissing off the audience with any forced laughter. This has its moments but it is more the kind of thing to dip in and out of rather than listening to it in its entirety.
Making of Jackass Number Two (30m01s): Beginning on the very first day of filming, this goes on to describe the making of the film, the thoughts of the cast, who are interviewed on the set and in a studio, on this sequel to their first big-screen success and in the problems in making a Jackass film given how so many of them are well known. Except, that is, for Ehren McGhehey, who steps out of a trailer at a DVD signing to complete silence from the crowd that had cheered at the sight of Wee Man only moments before. This making-of picks out a few moments in the film, some of which made the final cut and some that didn't, and describes what went wrong, what worked out and how Johnny Knoxville was almost killed by an exploding rocket.
Uncut Additional Segments (5m55s): Before choosing Play All, one can look down the list of what's included here, with Penis Tricks and Preston Middle Butt giving a fair idea of what's coming up. After an introduction from Bam Margera - "If you're a little homophobic, look away because we're getting gay!" - we're into Wee Man slamming a book down someone's testicles. Bam and Wee Man take a ride in a lift in the nude, Baba Balak Nath wraps his penis around a stick that Knoxville then stands on and Knoxville and Spike Jonze in their old man/old woman make up, record a music video to Peaches' Fuck The Pain Away.
Deleted Scenes (16m01s): More Shock Phone, notably a conference call that has Ryan Dunn's ass being penetrated by a shocked Loomis, more Knoxville as an old man and more of the hotel corridor punching glove, amongst others, this doesn't present any new material but more additional footage from those stunts that made it into the final cut.
Additional Segments (27m39s): Pretty much a half-hour addendum to the film, this features a lot of new material that, not for reasons of quality, didn't make it to the final film. Steve-O crashes out in a bellhop cart, Preston Lacey feeds a couple of calves via a customised cow suit, Chris Pontius makes a few calls via a WWII military field phone that doubles up as a torture device and Steve-O has a lot of manure dumped on him. If you liked the main film, there's as much to enjoy in here, although there is far too much of Spike Jonze and Knoxville in their old woman/man make-up. Although there was too much of that in the main feature.
Outtakes (8m02s): Carrying on from the Deleted Scenes, this offers much the same kind of material, with various outtakes from the film when stunts, links and introductions all went wrong. Like most outtakes and completely unlike the best moments in the film, there's precious few laughs here.
Karazy Music Video (2m39s): Starring Chris Pontius and Big Nasty, this offers - if you'd felt there just wasn't quite enough of it - even more nudity from the Jackass cast.
Finally, and as a roundup of the bonus material, there is a Trailer (1m18s), a Photo Gallery, Uncut VMA Spots (2m07s) with Steve-O baiting a lobster with his tongue and Bam taking a call on the Shock Phone and, if you can find the Easter Egg, a Trailer (1m18s) featuring more shit, nudity and vomit than most cinemas could rightly handle.
You know, it's not all shit, semen and the like as it ends with such a well-planned stunt that those who tune in just to see Steve-O get his dick out might well be confused by what is happening. It involves Ehren dressing up as a Middle Eastern suicide bomber, getting in a taxi driven by director Jay Chandrasekhar and saying that he's going to blow up a plane. However, with Chandrasekhar in on the gag, armed with a gun and Ehren's belt of fake plastic explosive of no actual use to him in a crisis. Oh, and Ehren's wearing a false beard made of the pubic hair of the rest of the Jackass guys, one of whom had crab lice. It's funny, smarter than the average gag and ends with Ehren inside the boot of the taxi thinking everyone who'd come to rescue him has been shot.
Oddly, in spite of him being the public face of Jackass, it would be a lot better were it not for Knoxville, whose presence tends to grate the longer he's on screen. In particular, there's a gag with a note from a groupie and a pneumatic boxing glove that you'll be skipping past the more you hear Knoxville laugh at the same joke over and over. But that may be nothing new in the world of Jackass, wherein a Knoxville gets to be an acquired taste. Like horse semen, maybe.