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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jackass 3D: technologically advanced dick jokes


In a massive advertising campaign, we were told time and time again how the technology pioneered for James Cameron’s blue-cats-in-space epic Avatar would revolutionize the way films were made and viewed. Never mind the fact the first 3D film was shown to audiences in 1922 or that motion capture has been used for a decade, Cameron was revolutionizing everything for the better.

My grievances with Avatar are well-documented. There are splashy effects, and yes, eye-popping use of 3D. Those serve as no substitute for story, and thankfully, over the past year the masses have seemed to recognize the absurd self-importance of 3D. This, perhaps, is best encapsulated in the final segment of Jackass 3D, wherein merry-maker Johnny Knoxville, in slow motion, throws a bowl of dildos at the audience.

The Jackass films, television show, and multiple spinoffs have never been about subtlety, story, or sophistication. Rather, as untold legions of professional and amateur media critics have previously explained, the joy of the Jackass franchise is the puerile pranks and sophomoric stunts that are performed mirthfully, and more importantly, without malice (usually). A cursory glance of YouTube reveals millions of imitators, but none can match the gleeful charm of Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera, and their band of cohorts.

Jackass 3D is a worthy installment in the series. It’s tamer than the first two films, no doubt in part because the stars are starting to push 40 and are a little worse for the wear, as they described in a recent interview with Vanity Fair. Among the highlights were a curiously-used model train set, an extended set playing in the exhaust of a jet engine, playing football with Jared Allen and Josh Brown, a miniature bar fight, monstrous high-fives, and using super glue in an unintended manner. Even though it didn’t feel like the movie reached a full tilt until the end, it nevertheless was consistently amusing, disgusting, and shocking.

I actually saw the film twice - once in 3D its opening week, and a second time in 2D while visiting friends in Chicago. I can say without reservation - this movie is better in 3D. An introduction by two of MTV’s two-dimensional poster children loses some of it’s absurdity when not seen with the special glasses. Several throw-away gags throughout the movie lack some of their “how ridiculous is this technology?” mirth when various projectiles are merely implied to be headed towards the viewer instead of leaping out of the screen. Therein is the highest praise I can offer to Jackass 3D - by combining a filmmaking gimmick with their typical juvenile antics, the Jackass crew creates self-aware laughs that come dangerously close to being sophisticated.


TOO MUCH: Chris Pontius’ member. Johnny Knoxville absent-mindedly grabbing his crotch every time he laughs. Poop.

COULD HAVE USED MORE: Extended gags like the jet engine. Knoxville dressed as an old man.

FILM SNOB NOTE: Some Jackass fans may not realize producer/old woman Spike Jonze is the director of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Where The Wild Things Are, along with countless music videos and commercials. Can someone confirm or deny I spotted Robot Chicken writer/handsome fellow Breckin Meyer during the end credits? Videographer Lance Bangs has a history of laughing himself silly and getting sick during bits, this sequel is no exception. During part of the jet engine antics, I was screaming "that's how Stuart Scott lost his eye!" Following the success of Jackass 2.5 and the theatrical run of Jackass 3D, there will be a Jackass 3.5 either in theaters or DVD soon, so says the internet.

IHYFM RATING: FOUR out of FIVE MEHS. Overall, I think Jackass Number Two is a little bit funnier, but this installment had me laughing heartily throughout. If you’re a fan of the Jackass franchise, you probably already saw this, and if not, you need to get to a theater with a 3D screening post-haste.

IF YOU SAID THIS WAS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE, I’D THINK: I hope you have health insurance.

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