Monday, October 25, 2010

Movie Review: Jackass 3-D

Jackass 3-D * ½
Directed by:
Jeff Tremaine.
Written By: Preston Lacy.
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Jason Acuña, Preston Lacy, Chris Pontius, Ehren McGhehey, Dave England, Loomis Fall.

I had planned on skipping Jackass 3-D, seeing as how I wasn’t really a fan of the show or either of the movie before it. But then it went ahead and set box office records its first weekend, so I decided that I should actually see it and review it (something similar may happen since I missed Paranormal Activity 2 this weekend). Watching the film feels pretty much like watching the first two films. I’m not sure that any of them really even qualify as a movie – there is no plot, no characters, not even an attempt at any. Instead what we get is a series of stunts – some clever and funny some just gross – pulled off by a group of men, who now must be in their mid 30s but to say they have the maturity of teenagers would be insulting to teens. Everyone seems to like it when they get hurt, but miraculously no one ever seems to be seriously injured.

The only new addition to this film that the previous did not have is 3-D. I am on record as thinking that 3-D really doesn’t add anything to most movies – really only Avatar benefitted from the technology, and that’s because James Cameron took the time, energy and money necessary to actually make the technology work for his movie, and not against it. On that level, I have to say that I don’t really know if 3-D added anything to Jackass, but unlike films like The Last Airbender, Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans, it didn’t take anything away from it either. It places you more in the middle of the action than any of the previous films – but I’m not sure I really wanted to be there.

There are, I suppose, a number of ways you can look at Jackass. I know that some critics have placed these movies in the tradition of the surrealists – filmmakers like Luis Bunuel, whose early films like Un Chien Andalou and L’Age D’Or also didn’t feature things like plot or character, but used a series of shocking images to stun the audience. I have never really followed that logic, because after all, I do think Bunuel had a larger purpose in mind – especially in L’Age D’or, whereas I have to think that the folks behind Jackass just think it is really, really find it funny to see people doing stupid things and getting hurt, or covered in shit, or vomiting, etc. That is the second way to look at Jackass – just as a bunch of idiots delighting in hurting themselves and each other, and grossing out an audience while they do it. Jackass 3-D is the first film this year that really did make me want to vomit (although to be fair, I have not seen The Human Centipede yet, and at this point, I am doubting whether I ever will). But while to most movies, saying that it made me want to vomit would be an insult, I don’t think the people behind this movie would mind – it would probably bring them some sort of warped satisfaction.

I don’t really feel the need to go into what happens in the movie – because after all, if you are going to see the film, then half the fun is waiting to see what stupid crap they will pull next, and reading about it would simply ruin it. I will say I found some of the stunts clever – and I liked it more when the boys were pulling jokes not just on each other, but on unsuspecting members of the public as well (there is a degree of overlap between films like Jackass and the work of Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat and Bruno).

Jackass 3-D is one of those rare movies that is critic proof. It doesn’t matter what I say, anyone who wants to see it already will, or already has and anyone who doesn’t, couldn’t be dragged there. It is also one of those movies that makes it almost impossible to assign a star rating to. On one hand, the film is sick and disgusting, and serves no real purpose, and can hardly be classified as a movie at all, except for the fact that it is playing at a movie theater. On the other hand, Jackass 3-D is one of only a handful of films this year that is 100% the film its makers wanted it to be. There are no compromises – they set out to make the exact film you see on the screen. So I was torn – do I give the film zero stars, because it’s so disgusting, or three stars because despite how disgusting it is, it achieves what it sets out to do. I decided to split the difference. The odd thing is no matter what star rating I gave the film, I don’t think I’d have to change a word of this review.

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