Despite its ostensibly spontaneous, anarchic feel, there really aren’t many surprises in “Jackass: Number Two.” The picture does ratchet up the level in some respects, but for the most part it’s just more of the same sort of stuff that made up the MTV series and the first feature installment–a series of deliberately crude and violent sketches, mostly involving members of the “troupe” headed by Johnny Knoxville engaging in some physically dangerous and/or disgusting stunt, occasionally involving some unsuspecting bystander in the business and sometimes turning the tables on one another. The coarser the better, naturally–barely a minute goes by without a display of nudity, a dollop or more of excrement, or some graphically scatological business. There is a change of pace at the end, when a big musical number is tagged onto the picture as an eccentric coda, but that’s about it.
It would be easy to go on at length about how tasteless and repulsive the movie is, but what’s really depressing about it is the repetitiveness and tedium. There are only so many times you want to see somebody diving into a lake on a rocket-powered bike, and even when as a topper they play the same bit with Mark Zupan (of “Murderball”) in a wheelchair, it barely registers. And the habit of showing us the stunt again in slow-motion after we’ve watched it in real time has a truly deadening effect. And if you’re really squeamish about seeing a guy puncture his cheek with a fish hook or drink cow semen, telling you to avert your eyes won’t be very helpful, because it’s hard to do that for ninety minutes and see any of the movie at all.
The fact that critics are going to trash “Jackass: Number Two” as hard as they did the first flick isn’t going to come as any great shock to the makers. In fact, they’d probably be disappointed with any other reaction; after all, they’ve based their entire advertising campaign around slams directed against the initial installment by “establishment” reviewers, which they wear as a badge of honor. For the record, this reviewer can admit to finding a few moments of the picture somewhat amusing–the “Candid Camera”-like sketch about a foul-tempered old man (Knoxville) and his foul-mouthed grandson, for example. But while fans of Knoxville’s gang will doubtlessly find this second helping of donkey dung as raucously amusing as the first, to anyone else it will smell just as foul.