A decade of the Jackass franchise and the same question is still being asked: Is it art? A recent article in The New York Times compared Jackass and its parade of stunts—usually involving bodily harm and various bodily fluids—to Dadaism, the Theater of Cruelty and the work of Luis Buñuel.
I think calling Jackass art is just an excuse for people who want to laugh at a grown man with a remote-control helicopter tied to his penis and not feel guilty about it. There’s nothing wrong with laughing at that, but there’s no need to gussy up all the gross, dangerous and often unpleasant stunts and hidden-camera antics of Jackass as art—no matter what Spike Jonze (one of Jackass’ creators) has to say about it. If you want to laugh at someone playing baseball with his genitals or having explosive diarrhea out of the center of a model train set, then so be it. Chortle to your little heart’s content.
I will admit that while the whole Jackass shtick has long ago run its course for me, the latest movie isn’t without some sort of morbid interest. There’s something almost fascinating about how base and primal everything appears, right down to the male camaraderie that springs out of a friend being, say, run over by a bull or kicked in the groin by a donkey. The movie is just one giant orgy of dudes—clothed and unclothed—being, well, just dudes. There are maybe four females in the entire film, and none of them have as much fun as the guys.
At the same time, head jackass Johnny Knoxville and his various brothers-in-arms look and act a bit older and more world-weary in Jackass 3D. They almost seem to be aware of how idiotic it all is. The recklessness of youth just isn’t an excuse anymore. Maybe the most telling moment is when Steve-O laments, “I’m Steve-O and this is … Why do I have to be Steve-O?”—just moments before being nailed in the groin with a baseball.
After 10 years of Jackass on TV and in movies, you should know exactly what to expect and what you’re going to get from Jackass 3D. The only addition is some admittedly pretty good 3-D effects. However, all this really means is that when a dildo gets shot from a gun and into someone’s face, you get to see it in all its three-dimensional glory, just like God intended. It all comes down to how entertaining you find all this to be. I wasn’t very entertained. Grossed out and occasionally fascinated maybe, but never did I find much of it very funny. It’s definitely not for everyone, and those it is for are well aware that a new Jackass has been unleashed. Rated R for male nudity, extremely crude and dangerous stunts throughout, and for language.