CAST: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, Chris Pontius, Dave England, Danger Ehren, Preston Lacy, Sean “Poopies” McInerney, Jasper Dolphin, Zach Holmes, Rachel Wolfson, Eric Manaka, Compston “Darkshark” Wilson, Eric André, Tory Belleci, Shaquille O’Neal, Tony Hawk, Mat Hoffman, Aaron “Jaws” Homoki, Francis Ngannou, DJ Paul, Machine Gun Kelly, Tyler, the Creator, Danielle O’Toole, Rob Dyrdek, Chris Raab, Jeff Tremaine, Lance Bangs, Rick Kosick
RUNNING TIME: 96 mins
BASICALLY…: Johnny Knoxville and his crew return for a final round of hilariously dangerous stunts…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
Screw whatever Scorsese might say: Jackass Forever is indeed pure cinema.
As a long-time fan of both the MTV series and the movie spin-offs, it was extra special seeing Johnny Knoxville and his not-so-wise men – barring regulars Ryan Dunn, who sadly passed away more than ten years ago, and Bam Margera who was fired during production – back on the big screen doing what they do best: enduring all sorts of physical pain for the sake of comedy. And by God, does it get more and more glorious each and every time a new one of these movies comes out, with this one in particular offering the most outrageous and cringe-worthy stunts these guys have yet done, and God bless every single one of them for it.
You only have yourself to blame if you don’t know the Jackass formula by now: Knoxville and his pals, from Steve-O to Chris Pontius to Wee Man, all present a number of dangerous on-screen comedy stunts where great pain, and even greater laughter, is shared. The same is true for Jackass Forever, with highlights this time including human biking ramps, exploding fart bubbles, scorpions giving botox, spider helmets, and the mother of all openings which pays homage to giant monster movies, only if the monster in question was Chris Pontius’ green-coloured penis and testicles rampaging through a model city. Most of the gang is present, along with new additions like Sean “Poopies” McInerney, Zach Holmes, Rachel Wolfson, and celebrity cameos including Eric André, Machine Gun Kelly and Tyler, the Creator, all of whom commit so hard to their bits that sometimes their involvement alone gets bigger laughs than the actual stunt.
That is a rare occurrence, though, for pretty much every single scene in this movie hits the bullseye, or at the very least within the central target space. As ever, the levels of stunt-work and pranking are next-level hilarious, aided by the true comradery shared between Johnny Knoxville and his long-time band of brothers; even more than twenty years after the show first debuted, these guys still show clear adoration for what they do, although you can tell some of them are starting to show their age (Knoxville, for example, sports silver-fox hair for half of the movie), which makes things slightly suspenseful when some of them don’t immediately respond after getting run over by bulls or slammed head-first into garage doors. Regardless, they still firmly commit to their bits, which range from chortle-inducing physical pain (particularly around the groin area – there is so much male nudity in this picture, with neither shaft nor scrotum spared from harm) to gross-out gags which even made me feel a little queasy in my seat.
The beauty of these Jackass movies is that you can literally start on any single one without having seen any of the previous movies or even the TV show, and not only immediately get the gist of things but also get well-earned reactions every single time. I noticed this when I first saw the third film back in 2010 (which, incidentally, was the first 18-certificate film I ever legally saw in a cinema), and I sure as hell did when I saw Jackass Forever, with so many people in my audience reacting audibly to all the right moments, whether it’s gut-bursting laughter or loud groans when something truly painful/gross was about to happen. It’s awe-inspiring stuff, especially when this is legitimately one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long, long time; all the Jackass movies have been hilarious to watch, but there is something about this one in particular which is especially rewarding, and even endearing since it is said to be the last entry in the film series (which, again, given that a number of the original cast and crew are clearly in that stage of their lives where they’re not as indestructible as they perhaps once were, is understandable).
And I think I know why that is. It’s because this is the one that proves why we, as a collective society, need Jackass in our lives, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty. Think about it: when the first Jackass movie came out in 2002, the world was gripped by post-9/11 paranoia, and stories of corporate corruption and paedophile priests dominating the headlines. Flash-forward to exactly twenty years later, when not only is the world experiencing a global pandemic, but trust in political leaders is at an all-time low, environmental destruction is now all but inevitable, and social media has divided people more than ever. Is it therefore really a coincidence that 2002’s Jackass: The Movie grossed 12x its $5 million budget worldwide, or that this one is currently gaining critical appraisal left and right, making it (as of writing) the highest-rated of the entire series by a wide margin? People always need escapism, but the Jackass movies offer something stronger; ninety or so minutes of uninterrupted, unsaturated comedy that is both universal and timeless, with lovable performers constantly putting themselves in harm’s way for the sake of making people laugh during times when it is desperately needed. Though it might not seem intelligent at first glance, there is a real sense of genius to how these movies have been made and released at just the right time in our history, and if Jackass Forever is indeed the last time we will see these guys working together on the big screen, then they will have gone out with their most essential and even their most important outing to date.
So yes, I am one of those people who will always argue that a Jackass movie is integral to our human culture, and always will. Sure, movies like Belfast and Licorice Pizza will be the ones that go on to earn a bunch of Oscar nominations, but ones like Jackass Forever don’t need such accolades to cement their own place in film history: instead, it’ll happily take a pogo-stick to the balls for the good of mankind.
SO, TO SUM UP…
Jackass Forever is the series’ funniest, grossest, and most endearing entry yet, but even more importantly it is a brilliant reminder that we as a society desperately need the likes of Johnny Knoxville and company in our lives.