Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Uncomfortable Laughter Rules Jackass Number Two An Anemic Stunt Comedy Film I Loathed.

The Good: There are some moments of humor.
The Bad: No plot, No character development, Loathsome pranks
The Basics: Short, unpleasant and repetitive, Jackass Number Two is simply an escalating series of painful and vile pranks which are not worth watching.

After weeks of trying to get through a review of Jackass Number Two, I've decided the best way I can muster up enthusiasm for this is to simply write a succinct one.

My wife came to our relationship with Jackass Number Two on her shelf of DVDs and that surprised me, despite knowing she had a love of dumb comedies. When she insisted we watch it together, I had trepidations, despite never having seen an episode of Jackass or the first Jackass movie. Those reservations, it turns out, were well-founded.

Jackass Number Two is a short film which captures various pranks formed by the team of twenty-something men who put one another in mortal risk for the thrill of surviving dangerous obstacles. The movie has no character development, no plot and is essentially a reality show on the big screen (or now on DVD). The team of young men, led by Johnny Knoxville, put themselves in ridiculous and painful situations just to be able to say they did them

The viewer, then, is subjected to Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Ryan Dunn, Wee Man (Jason Acuña) and the others doing such things as: getting branded (Bam has a penis-shaped brand burned into his butt, but because he flinches it is done several times and actually gets infected), running with bulls, having a leech placed on the eyeball and getting shot with rubber projectiles used for crowd control. A few of the stunts border on clever, like the way a gag that results in people getting punched in the face through a wall uses a sign with increasingly smaller script that forces them to move closer to it, but most of them are ridiculous and dumb. The men make a wheelchair rocket propelled and Knoxville launches himself into the air on a giant rocket.

Most of the stunts are painful, like five of the guys playing on a four-way see-saw while a bull tries to gore them from below or the way Wee Man is blown across a marsh using a giant fan and a parachute. Jackass Number Two occasionally tries to be simply funny, like a simple gag where a man wearing only his underclothes chases Wee Man in his underwear down the street and around a corner, a moment later resulting in the man being chased by over a dozen similarly diminutive men.

Jackass Number Two builds up to a stunt that is not just dangerous, but is mean on many levels to the guys involved. There is no narrative to the film; it's just a series of vignettes which take about five minutes each and usually involve coercing members of the group to go through with the current stunt.

The movie shows the men engaged in planning terrible, painful or embarrassing pranks which illustrate no respect for one another. The men keep upping the ante conceiving evermore heinous activities and watching the movie is dehumanizing to the viewer as much as it is problematic for the men involved. I found myself laughing occasionally at the stupidity of the pranks or because I was uncomfortable. I found myself looking away a lot because the movie often had elements which were nauseating and gross (several of the men vomit at various points in the film).

Jackass Number Two is gross and not entertaining enough to recommend or even encourage a third part. Utterly worthless.


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© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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