Popular Culture

Bring the Pain

Wrong done right in Jackass 3D


Most of us think of a penis as having two purposes. But as we learn in Jackass 3D, the latest anarch-a-thon from Johnny Knoxville and his demented companions, this is a narrow view. In one of the movie's many singular stunts—an interlude called "The Helicockter," I'm afraid—we see that a penis properly equipped with a very long cord can pilot a remote-controlled model airplane high in the sky. At another point, in a demonstration of what would have to be called penis baseball, a ball is pitched, the penis takes a swing (size does matter here) and connects, and then—the topper—another player, unrelated to the penis, pops up brandishing the ball in his clenched teeth.

By now, after two feature films and of course the spawning series that ran on MTV for three seasons, the Jackass sensibility—wildly violent, jaw-droppingly gross, and state-of-the-art stupid—has become familiar. But the particulars—the individual crazed stunts and antics—remain unpredictable, and frequently unbelievable. Even the Judd Apatow brand of scabrous film comedy seems timid by comparison, so this iron-man uproar can still feel liberating. You might never have wanted to see some loon ride a Jet Ski down the side of a rocky hill, or offer his face up to a scorpion attack, or try literally pissing into the wind (it's as messy as you'd imagine), but when you do, you may find yourself chortling uncontrollably before good taste has a chance to intervene.

The Jackass crew remains unchanged from the idiot band that emerged out of the skate-punk world back at the turn of the millennium. Given the broken bones and juddering concussions that are an integral part of their painful trade, this dedication is surprising in itself. Knoxville is still in charge, if that's the word, and lead maniacs Bam Margera, Steve-O, and Chris Pontius are still onboard, as are the alarmingly obese Preston Lacy (also credited as a writer, whatever that might mean) and Jason "Wee Man" Acuña, the world's most good-natured dwarf. (One wonders which he found more trying: being slapped with dead mackerels, or compelled to don a leprechaun costume.)

Not everything here is a hoot: It's been a long time since a guy in a gorilla suit was thought to be especially funny, and some of the gags are strained setups. But the peak lunacies—like the visiting fart-master who plays a trumpet with his butt—are priceless. (Disgusting, but priceless.) And the decision to shoot the picture in 3D, while probably a bid to extend the Jackass franchise, was clearly a shrewd one: There are things hurtling off the screen in this movie that are beyond the ken of James Cameron.  

Given the fact that most of these men are now in their mid-30s (and beyond), one wonders how long they can continue down the Jackass path. But then what's kept them going this far? Is it the money? (Their first film, 2002's Jackass: The Movie, cost $5-million to make and grossed $60-million in this country alone.) Maybe. But it would be hard to fake their still-giddy spirit, or the affectionate camaraderie that's a part of their appeal. They remain united, it seems, by a single belief: Anything for a laugh. As Knoxville says, after being rammed in the gut by an angry buffalo: "Hahahahaha!

Kurt Loder is a writer, among other things, embedded in New York.

NEXT: Law Profs (and Volokh Co-Conspirators) for Legalized Pot

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  1. I laughed so hard in the theater at the first Jackass movie that I almost puked. I can’t wait to see this in 3D at the Seattle Center IMAX.

    1. What day and what time?

      1. It doesn’t seem to be playing there! Maybe the listings will be updated tomorrow.

        I’m not going to Renton to see it.

        1. One must never go to Renton alone!

          1. One must never go to Renton alone!


    2. Definitely a guilty pleasure.

    3. Yeah, I never laughed as long and hard as I did at that first movie. Ninety minutes of insanity.

    4. Heck yeah, most “comedies” are sappy romances, and the rest are overrated. I got a few chuckles out of “Hangover”, but nothing like the laugh out loud of the first two Jackass movies.

    5. Post it up, Epi! I’ll join you guys there.

    6. As much as I despise nostalgia, I have to admit that I’d love to get another copy of the first three Big Brother videos. That magazine and its videos were one of those weird things that doesn’t reveal its cultural relevance until long after it is dead.

  2. 3D is fine, but I might not have the courage for the Jackass sequel that comes out after the invention of feelies.

  3. Speaking of jackasses, Michelle Obama violated Illinois law by electioneering inside a polling place. The response (according to Drudge):

    A top Ilinois State Board of Elections official tells the DRUDGE REPORT how Mrs. Obama may have simply been ignorant of the law and thus violated it unintentionally.

    “You kind of have to drop the standard for the first lady, right?” the official explained late Thursday. “I mean, she’s pretty well liked and probably doesn’t know what she’s doing.”

    Madame Obama, need we remind you, is an actual Harvard-educated Illinois-licensed attorney. If anyone shouldn’t get a pass for ignorance of the law. . . .

    But she’s famous! And popular! In Chicago, those laws are for the little people. And the Republicans.

    1. If the state doesn’t prosecute, let’s hire Knoxville and company to prank her.

    2. Racist!

    3. That was a very painful segue.

      1. I’ve seen worse

        1. Well played.

    4. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

      1. Which fits chi-town to a T.

        1. Pica is correct.

          There really is one set of rules for the political elites and another set of rules for the peasants in Chi-town.

  4. Spoiler alert, Kurt?
    But it is hard to say if that really applies to a jackass movie. I’m guessing…no.

    1. Hey, j. Not to worry. The highlights I’ve noted here don’t begin to exhaust the movie’s many wonders.

      1. Seriously, thanks for this KL. I have always been a fan of the jackass movies (which surprises my friends who seem think of me as an effete, erudite homosexual). I probably would have forgotten to see it since I don’t really watch movies anymore.

        Anyone want to see it in San Diego?

        1. You might be surprised, but many people are able to see the connection between homosexuality and Knoxville, Steve-O and crew….

          1. The connection is not slight. The first movie ended with a big musical number…The Best of Times is Now, from La Cage Aux Folles.

  5. I would appreciate a Jackass review that didn’t sound like it was written by a film major (and yes, I’m old enough to know who Kurt Loder is).

    It’s been a long time since a guy in a gorilla suit was thought to be especially funny.

    I couldn’t disagree more.

    1. I would appreciate a Jackass review that didn’t sound like it was written by a film major…

      If you think this sounds like it was written by a film major, you don’t know any film majors. “Mise-en-scene” was never mentioned, and “reflexivity” and “non-narrative narrative” were also omitted.

      You should go watch a Jim Jarmusch film as punishment.

      1. I don’t think his mistake warrants a Jarmusch film, you sadist. Maybe a Ken Russell film.

        1. Dead Man was excellent and Ghost Dog was okay. The rest, not so much.

          1. Dead Man was amazing and Ghost Dog was excellent.

            Actually, you know what? The worst thing about Jarmusch isn’t the movies, it’s the hair.

    2. He may have a point, but since I watched Trading Places last week, my man in a gorilla suit-fix was pretty recent.

      Can’t come up with much more recently unless you consider Marky Mark’s foray into the Planet of The Apes.

      1. And that really does scratch the itch, what with the real-guy-in-gorilla-suit and fake-guy-in-gorilla-suit double.

  6. There will be penis stunts? I had been thinking that if I ended up having to see this, I would need to be drunk. But nobody said anything about penis stunts.

  7. I have great respect for knoxville.

    Essentially he always plays the fall guy and he does so with out malice and in general good cheer.

    Whom i cannot stand is that little talentless fuck Bam (Brandon Cole “Bam” Margera) who is always malicious and always the one inflicting the pain and never taking a hit himself.

    The only thing I want to see that piece of shit in is a 10 min video of maybe 5 men kicking the crap out of him with the grand finally of him getting curbed.

    1. If you really want to get angry, watch the Tosh.0 where Tosh goes to the website that lists people’s net worth and it turns out Bam is worth something like 43 million, whereas Steve-o is worth something like 1.3 million.

      I guess hitting your fat father in the bathroom generates a shit ton of revenue.

      1. Fuck Bam. I laughed my ass off watching them prank hiss ass with that python in the cage. He cried like a little bitch. I mean he cried like Bam Margera.

        Tosh.0 should do a web redemption on Knoxville and give him another chance to do it right with some fucking king cobras.

  8. I’m thinking the airplane is one of those old timely gas propelled models that had the pilot spinning about in the middle of an open field? I’m just wondering how the elevators are controlled? Testicular action perhaps?

  9. You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd! Just came here to say that.

  10. gotta love an article that begins with “Most of us think of a penis as having two purposes. But as we learn in Jackass 3D, the latest anarch-a-thon from Johnny Knoxville and his demented companions, this is a narrow view.”

    in the same vein, may I remind you all that THE PENIS IS EVIL

  11. Its weird how Kurt Loder is still the coolest guy who ever worked for MTV, and he was already the old guy when I started watching.

  12. Yeah, I never laughed as long and hard as I did at that first movie. Ninety minutes of insanity!! It`s very nice!

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