Review: Jackass Forever Combines Innovative New Bits and the Crew’s Greatest Hits

How do you even begin a review of a Jackass movie? It’s like being asked to review a fireworks display or a rollercoaster ride: It either gets a rise out of you or it doesn’t, and there isn’t much more to say about it. As a long-time fan of both the long-running Jackass television series and the three previous Jackass film (as well as the spinoff film Bad Grandpa), the idea of many of the original crew reuniting 11 years after Jackass 3D for what is likely their final outing is a no-brainer. But it’s also oddly emotional, especially when Jackass Forever features a number of newer players who grew up watching the original show and are able to express their admiration for these founding fathers of elevated stunts, pranks and excessive male nudity.

Again under the guidance and direction of series co-creator Jeff Tremaine and co-creator Spike Jonze (who directs the best opening credits sequence of any of the Jackass films here), Jackass Forever feels like a combination of innovative bits and a greatest hits package of slightly reinvented classics, culminating in leader Johnny Knoxville getting charged at by a bull (for the second time in one of these films) and suffering the greatest physical harm to body and head that he’s ever experienced (itself making perhaps the greatest argument for retirement). The routines range from daring stunts that trend toward the stupid to pranks on either each other or unsuspecting members of the public (Knoxville’s Bad Grandpa character returns for a very funny furniture store incident). But some of my favorite moments are old chestnuts like a quick punch to the balls or taser to the butt.

Returning favorites Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Ehren McGhehey, Wee Man, Preston Lacy, and others lead the charge while acknowledging that they have paid their dues and now it’s time to let the newcomers and celebrity guests take the hits. Some of the standouts among the newcomers is a guy named Poopies, who is simply fearless and exceedingly dumb—a lethal combination—but the genuine joy of Zach Holmes makes him a favorite as well. Seeing famous folks like Machine Gun Kelly, Rob Dyrdek, Tyler the Creator, Eric André, and Tony Hawk gives the film some star power, but there’s something about leaving the best bits to the core members that provides us with the movie’s best moments.

The intense bruising quotient seems higher than ever and the number of stings or bites by animals is terrifying, especially when you factor in where on their bodies the cast is getting stung or bitten. Admittedly, some of the sequences seem more like torture than fun and games, but that is sometimes what escalation leads to in the Jackass world. And let me repeat something I said at the top of this review: there is considerable dong in this movie, and often times, it’s being injured. I’m not sure whether it hurt more to watch that happen or to laugh so hard while watching it happen.

The simple formula behind Jackass is that we love and tolerate the displays of pain because we love these people, even the dumb-dumbs who get easily talked into doing the most awful and sadistic routines. I was laughing, screaming, crying, and cringing in equal measure while watching this one, and honestly, what else can you ask from any film? Jackass Forever is bittersweet because we may never see some of these people in a Jackass setting again, and that’s heartbreaking. But the film is also the complete package—you go through every emotion in the rainbow and come out the other end exhausted and wholly satisfied, reminded of the hold these films and performers have on you. If it is indeed a sendoff, it’s a damn-near-perfect one.

Jackass Forever is now playing in theaters.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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