No one expects a feature based on the MTV “Jackass” series to be any good, but it’s difficult to anticipate just how terrible it turns out to be. The movie, made by yahoos for yahoos, is merely a seemingly endless (and obviously ultra-cheap) succession of bits in which a bunch of obnoxious boors physically abuse themselves and humiliate one another (as well as some unsuspecting victims), and then laugh about it. But as much pain as the dolts inflict upon themselves is but a drop in the bucket compared to what they inflict on the audience. The result is like being trapped at a perpetual frat party. The picture opens with the customary warning telling viewers not to mimic the stunts portrayed in it, but what’s really needed is a advisory against entering the theatre. Don’t let “Jackass: The Movie” become “Jackass: The Viewer.”
The jokesters, led by a particularly odious fellow named Johnny Knoxville, have a special affinity for gags that depend for their purported humor on obesity, old age, the penis, the derriere, nudity of the most graphic sort, physical injury, excrement and vomit, so if you want to revel in aggressively tasteless sketches on these topics, rest assured the picture will provide oodles of them. Otherwise, be prepared to do a lot of wincing, gasping and averting of your eyes–as well as yawning. For the real puzzle posed by the flick is: How can something so gross be so boring?
One can mention a few moments as being less offensive than most. The opening introduction of all the jerks to the strains of Orff’s “Carmina Burana” has a surrealistic oddity that promises more than the rest delivers, and the “Candid Camera” moments in which real people react amazedly to the gags have a modicum of amusement. But even in those sequences Allen Funt did it better.
What’s ultimately most repulsive about “Jackass,” besides how vulgar and mean-spirited it is, is the fact that there’s an audience out there that enjoys it. Surely its popularity is apocalyptic, in the biblical sense. Maybe it’s a good thing that the sequel to “Left Behind” is just around the corner.