Saturday, October 23, 2010

624 - Jackass 3D review

Johnny Knoxville and Co. are back, and though age has undoubtedly brought them a great deal of chronic pain, there’s no sign of mellowing. The “Jackass” films and TV series, which showcase a gang of jolly sadists’ at work on stunts and pranks that always fall somewhere between humorous and revolting, culminates here with its most disgusting installment yet, filmed in 3D to accentuate the juvenility.

Back when I was a neophyte film reviewer, I tackled the second picture with brow-furrowing seriousness. It’s funny, I said, but at what cost? There’s something undeniably gruesome about watching people brutalize and degrade themselves for a laugh. At what price do we get our laughs? If virtually anything the “Jackass” guys do were put to use on terror suspects, it’d be called torture. These guys volunteer, so it transmutes to a riot. Or does it?

Those in need of a plot description need not apply, because the film’s divided into a few dozen small sequences. Sample of a funnier moment: the guys rig a giant hand to slap people as they walk through a doorway, often carrying things one wouldn’t want to spill. Pretty funny. Sample of a disgusting moment: a camera is placed in a rather graphic position to capture the action as one man relives himself on several others. Believe it or not, this wouldn’t crack a list of the film’s five grossest sequences, most of which would be indescribable in a newspaper. The film wears its repulsiveness on its sleeve, making a point of showing that even the cameraman vomits about every other joke. Editing this must be just a touch more pleasant than putting together a Holocaust documentary.

It’s with reluctance I confess that there’s doubtlessly a charm to the antics of these heavily-tattooed and dignity-free stuntmen, a cinematic machismo purchased through their abandonment of standards and common sense. With rare exception, even the most sickening blows bring smiles to their faces, pleading with the audience to overlook the macabre aspects of their work and to just enjoy the shocks. Central to any analysis of “Jackass” is this: do the compelling moments adequately compensate for the repulsiveness of their misadventures? One way or another, I don’t want to know the person who watches this without wincing.

2.5 out of 5

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