Although critics love to toss around the warning "this film is not for the faint of heart," in the case of Johnny Knoxville's newest homage to painfully funny unbridled idiocy, it's really true: You just might find yourself puking into your popcorn bucket.
After a sporadically successful foray into mainstream Hollywood, the impishly charming Knoxville has returned to his lowbrow roots, reuniting with his crew of goldfish-barfing, poop-diving, lovably moronic frat boys to produce the second feature-length Jackass film. This is a movie that boldly treads where no one even wanted to go in the first place: it leaves no testicles unkicked, no shit uneaten, and no vomit spared there's more barfing in this movie than at a bulimia convention. These jackasses don't just encourage hurling they embrace it.
Expect quotes like, "Was the dick hair really necessary?" and, "You knocked my tooth out again!" Expect lots of man-ass, dick fetishes, as once again the homoerotic (jock) cup overfloweth. And expect to lose at least several IQ points while laughing your fucking ass off.
Jackass: Number Two is just one (ball) hair short of comedic genius. For one thing, you will never again look at a beer bong and a plunger in the same light. Despite the big budget at their hands, the jackasses have stuck to their basic, original formula: cheap and simple stunts that involve one basic premise: hurting themselves in the most creatively asinine manner possible. There's a mix of more elaborate setups a giant red rocket, an ingeniously creative game of bull teeter-totter and riotously funny and disgusting simplicity: a man, a handful of horse shit, a beer and a dare; a penis puppet and a snake; and the unforgettable fart mask. There are also hilarious cameos by John Waters, Three 6 Mafia and one slightly bewildered looking Luke Wilson.
Once again the cast has traveled the world in an effort to bring our American concept of stupid human tricks to a broader audience; in a sensitive exploration of traditional healing methods in other cultures, Steve-O has a leech attached to his eyeball in India. Blessed cultural ambassadors, indeed.
Roughly 80 percent of the movie is laugh-so-hard-your-ribs-are-breaking funny. But in their never-ending quest to one-up themselves, these generally harmless mischief-makers crossed a line into much more sinister territory. A scene where Steve-O spears himself with a fishhook and uses himself as human bait in water churning with sharks isn't so much funny as really fucking scary, particularly when he comes mere inches from losing his foot to a mako. In one gag, two guys dress up in ghutras and adopt bad Arabic accents, pretending to be terrorists and hailing a cab to the airport and it's just not funny. Particularly when the stunt takes a turn and one cast member gets a fake gun pulled on him and is convinced he's going to die. Knocking yourself in the head with a rake is funny tricking your friend into thinking he's going to get shot just ... isn't. Oh, and the crew actually manages to make merciless king pranksta Bam Margera cry.
Not to mention, at one point you start to feel bad for all the exotic snakes and bulls that serve as punch lines (though the giant anaconda gets the last laugh when he sinks his fangs into Knoxville not once, not twice, but three times).
Ultimately, this is a stupid, stupid movie, and riotously funny in its elegantly simplistic idiocy. Cast member Ryan Dunn sums up the Jackass appeal succinctly: April, Bam's poor beleaguered and oft-pranked mother, is horrified upon being shown how Dunn has mutilated her son's buttocks with a cow brand. Shocked and perplexed, she earnestly asks what on earth possessed Dunn to do such a thing to his childhood best friend.
Dunn, blank-faced, merely shrugs and responds, "because it was funny."
Sarah Klein is Metro Times culture editor. Send comments to [email protected].