This is not a movie in the conventional sense of the word. There is no story and there are no characters. It is not a documentary because it features stunts created just for the movie. What it is is an endurance contest for adolescents (and perpetual adolescents) and a comedy for people so bereft of empathy that they think it is funny to see people hurt themselves.
When discussing the idea of seeing the movie Jackass, prospective viewers should ask themselves one question: how enjoyable would it be for you to watch a movie in which people abuse their bodies to perform stunts in the most grotesque manner imaginable? If you answered that you would find this highly enjoyable and extremely amusing, Jackass is the movie for you. Anyone else, however, should run screaming in the other direction.
Jackass is an extended, more explicit version of the popular MTV show in which a group of idiotic guys perform idiotic stunts that involve such things as running around in their underwear and puking. Like the MTV show, the movie does not have a plot. It documents the same group of people from the TV show, led by Johnny Knoxville, performing extremely stupid and often very dangerous stunts. To give you a taste of the movie’s humor, one of the stunts involves a man snorting wasabi up his nose and then proceeding to vomit it out. Another stunt involves a man who is eating a snow cone—except that in this case the man has urinated on the snow, and therefore knows he is eating his own bodily waste. Another involves a man using the demo toilet in a store’s plumbing display, even though it is not hooked up to any plumbing. Then there are the stunts involving stuffing objects not intended for that purpose into bodily orafices also not intended for that purpose. The most appropriate commentary on the movie comes from a cameraman who becomes so disgusted that he throws up, which, of course, gets incorporated into the movie. Even for people who enjoy bathroom humor, Jackass wears thin because its unremitting brand of literally painful bathroom humor just isn’t funny.
This movie earns an R rating due to the excessive display of bodily fluids and use of vulgar language. But there is no rating contemplated by the MPAA that would provide any useful guidance about its appropriateness for audiences of any age. Parents should know that the movie includes very disgusting and visually explicit gags (a very appropriate term).
The one interesting feature of the movie is what it doesn’t show: at no point do any women participate in the incredibly stupid, hazardous tricks portrayed in Jackass. Was the director trying to make a subtle statement about the common sense (or lack thereof) of men vs. women?
Jackass raises a fundamental question: how far should a person really go for laugh? After 120 minutes of watching endless, hazardous, foul, gory, gruesome, execrable, and moronic tricks the answer seems clear: not really as far as the “jackasses” in this have chosen to go.