Thank goodness for Jackass Forever. After the last two Covid years -- with the endless life disruptions, fear of getting sick, and heartbreaking death toll – it felt good to sit in a movie theater and laugh myself silly for 96 straight minutes. This might just be the movie the world needs right now. It's funny and gross and deliriously cringe-inducing in the best possible way. Best of all, watching it feels like reuniting with old friends. Seeing Johnny Knoxville and crew again will put a smile on the face of any Jackass fan.
The formula has not been changed. The film is a string of hilariously stupid stunts and pranks, a large percentage of which involve crotch injuries. (This movie has more penises than you can shake a stick at.) Bam Margera is not here, due to some well-publicized personal problems, but everyone else is. A few new people have been added to the cast. Rachel Wolfson becomes the first female jackass. She gets to lick a stun gun as her initiation. Another new cast member is named “Poopies,” and that pretty much tells you everything you need to know.
One of the earliest bits is a trivia contest in which Knoxville asks three male contestants, all in their underwear, fourth-grade level questions. If they answer incorrectly, a pole with a flip-flop attached to it smacks them in the nuts. Steve-O strips naked and has a queen bee placed on his genitalia, which of course draws a swarm of other bees to the area. Knoxville gets back in the ring with a bull and literally gets the horns. Poor “Danger Ehren” gets the worst of it by far, including a very uncomfortable run-in with a bear.
Two or three of the gags are a little mean-spirited. Dumping five gallons of pig semen on one jackass seems cruel. Mostly, though, the shenanigans are hysterical. What makes such puerile hijinks so appealing? I think it's because the jackasses are visibly having fun. They want to do this stuff, and they giggle at their own antics, even when writhing in pain. Jackass Forever adds a layer to that. This time, the veteran cast members express pleasure in reuniting a decade after the last installment. Their shared experiences have created a bond. No one could have guessed that indulging in juvenile behavior would take them so far. Seeing that camaraderie gives the movie a touching quality that the previous movies didn't have.
Knoxville and his crew are older, but fortunately not too much wiser. Jackass Forever finds them updating some of their classic routines and devising brand new ones. Even at its most lowbrow, the film strives to crack you up by reveling in all the things – genitals, vomiting, flatulence, etc. – that decorum typically causes us to avoid. Those things go down easier thanks to the inherent charm of the jackasses, whose personalities and friendship win us over. Bad taste is rarely this side-splitting.
out of four
Jackass Forever is rated R for strong crude material and dangerous stunts, graphic nudity and language throughout. The running time is 1 hour and 36 minutes.