Ah, Paramount Pictures! Think of it — it was once the most sophisticated of all movie studios, home to such giants of film as Josef von Sternberg, Ernst Lubitsch and Rouben Mamoulian, all of whom did their best work there. The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields and Mae West shone brightest during their tenures at Paramount. And what of Leo McCarey, Preston Sturges, Mitchell Leisen and Billy Wilder? And there were lesser joys — but joys nonetheless — like Bing and Bob (both separately and together).
All right, so Paramount also played host to the kitsch of Cecil B. DeMille and the dubious charms of Martin and Lewis. Still, the batting average was high and that mountain with the ring of stars at the beginning and end of a movie used to mean something. After Jackass: Number Two, I can only suggest the mountain be replaced by a dung heap encircled by flies — and that’s being kind.
The only thing more appalling than this so-called movie is the fact that quite a few of my critical brethren have apparently taken leave of their senses and waxed ecstatic over its “fearlessness,” tossing around words like “cathartic,” “liberating,” “subversive” and — swear to God — “Dadaist” (you want Dadaist, go listen to Vivian Stanshall’s concept album Sir Henry at Rawlinson End). To this I say, “stuff and nonsense,” and even “balder and dash,” with a solid “twaddle” thrown in for good measure. This running sore of a cinematic affront is a crap-fest served up with a large bottle of weasel pee. It was made for an audience that actually thinks Beavis and Butthead were meant to be desirable role models. (In fact, there was someone seated behind me who saw the words “A Dickhouse Production” and proceeded to read aloud the first syllable of the company name and utter the trademark Buttheadian laugh.)
For those who are happily ignorant of the whole Jackass concept, it started life as an MTV reality show where Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O (an understandable alias) and an assortment of other characters who cannot construct a sentence without the word “dude” perform idiotic, repellent and often dangerous stunts along with tasteless gags centering on bodily functions. In 2002, this spawned Jackass: The Movie, which made a fortune, thereby proving H.L. Mencken’s assertion, “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” Despite the fact that Knoxville has gone on to bigger things (like The Dukes of Hazzard), a sequel was inevitable. Actually, this is less a sequel than simply a continuation of the jackassery of the first movie.
The movie opens with a warning label advising the viewer that the stunts are done by professionals (does this mean there’s such a thing as a professional drinker of horse semen?) and should not be attempted by the viewer. That’s one way of looking at it. Myself, I take the view that anyone who wants to festoon his, uh, member with a sock that looks like a mouse so that a “friend” of his can dangle it in front of a hungry snake should not be dissuaded from such an undertaking. This comes under the heading of getting what one deserves — or possibly, if one is very cynical, thinning the herd.
If the snake gag strikes you as amusing and creative, consider such feats as a beer enema (later expelled — in part with the aid of a plunger), “milking” a horse, a close-up of someone evacuating his bowels, a midget being body-slammed by a naked 350-plus-pound woman, a man having his testicles frozen to an ice sculpture, someone donning a beard made from the cast’s pubic hair, scenes of the cast and crew vomiting at their own outrages … surely that’s enough. In fact, it’s considerably more than enough, as far as I’m concerned. Rated R for extremely crude and dangerous stunts throughout, sexual content, nudity and language.
– reviewed by Ken Hanke