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Jackass 3D

by Yoda
posted on 4/14/11
Reviewing Jackass 3 is kind of like reviewing someone falling down the stairs. Actually, no; it's not like that, it's exactly that.

The Jackass men are pioneers of pain; boldly going where no man has seen any reason to go before. They ask the questions the rest of us are too smart to ask. Questions like "what would happen if I launched myself 100 feet over a lake while my friends shot paintballs at me?" The answer is: pretty much exactly what you'd expect.

This auspicious franchise turned ten last year, though it routinely goes to eleven, and most involved act like they're twelve. If nothing else, you have to admire the gumption involved in watching a Wile E. Coyote cartoon and then trying to recreate it. You know those kids in high school who liked to smoke pot and jump off the roof? Well, they're movie stars now. These guys may be stupid, but they're not dumb.

Each segment seems to fall into one of three categories: pure stunts (driving things off of ramps, aggravating large animals), gross-outs (drinking someone else's sweat, sitting inside a Porta-Potty while it's launched into the air), and public skits (Head Jackass Johnny Knoxville being made up to look like someone's Grandpa and doing very un-Grandpa like things).

The gross-out gags are probably the least redeemable, and seem to exist only as a continuous reaffirmation of the Jackasses' Cenobitian desire to experience everything at least once. The public skits, however, are usually the cleverest segments in the film; a staged little person bar fight stands head and shoulders above the rest and brings "The Twilight Zone" to mind. But it's the stunts that contain the most universal appeal. No matter how highbrow your sense of humor may be it's difficult to suppress a laugh when someone gets on a jet ski and flies off a ramp directly into a shrubbery. Knoxville is, as much as it might upset people to acknowledge, a modernized synthesis of Evel Knievel and the Three Stooges, and the latest example of a timeless comedic principle: pain will always be funny as long as the people getting hurt can smile and shake it off.

The best stunt, in this reviewer's opinion, is one in which two poor souls play a moronic version of Mythbusters to determine if the old saying about "music soothing the savage beast" is accurate. This is done by dressing up in a two-sizes-too-small band uniform and playing a tuba in front of an angry ram. The pièce de résistance is that they keep playing their instruments even after the ram has begun to pound them.

In most cases, the stunt itself is just framework; most of the fun is in the buildup and the reaction of the people watching. One of the performers ("Steve-O") introduces a stunt that consists of nothing more than a baseball hitting him in the testicles. This isn't really funny or inventive, but it finds its way into the movie because he can't quite bring himself to finish introducing it, knowing that it will take place the moment he finishes talking. Every now and then we get to see the overwhelming instinct of self-preservation make itself manifest on their faces, and it's kind of fascinating to watch them power through it. As silly as it sounds, it's these little flashes of doubt that ultimately sell the insanity. It lets us know that these guys know better, and do it anyway.

Will you laugh? Almost certainly. Anyone not wearing a monocle will find at least two or three of the bits irresistible. And you'll probably laugh in spite of yourself, which is arguably the very best way to laugh. Granted, it's hard to tell if you're laughing with the young men in this movie, or at them. But the fact remains: you're laughing.