Mark Reviews Movies


Zero Stars (out of 4)

Director: Jeff Tremaine

MPAA Rating: R (for dangerous, sometimes extremely crude stunts, language and nudity)

Running Time: 1:20

Release Date:  10/25/02

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Review by Mark Dujsik

One day when I was a kid, I was playing with a toy car and put it and my hand in the VCR. See, I imagined the VCR was a garage to put the car in. Now of course, my hand got stuck in the VCR, and people (I believe they were paramedics) had to be called to get me unstuck. Upon arriving, they asked me what I did, which I divulged. Then they asked me a rather obvious question: Are you still holding on to the car? Well, of course I was; I didn’t want to lose it. I’m embarrassed by that story, but it’s a normal part of growing up. We all at some point in our lives had to touch the burning stove to discover it was hot and we shouldn’t touch it. That’s how we learn. The guys in Jackass: The Movie still haven’t learned. They were the kids who touched the stove, withdrew their hand, touched the stove again to make sure that, yes, it was hot, and then thought it would be neat to set their hair on fire with it.

This study of de-evolution and man’s ability to cheat natural selection, based on an MTV show of the same name, starts off with a rather erroneous and pointless disclaimer. It goes something to the effect that the stunts performed in the movie are done by professionals and should not be attempted by anyone in the audience. The problems with it start at the beginning. Most of the things in Jackass are not stunts. The word “stunt” implies that a certain skill or talent was involved in an action. The stuff here qualifies more as pranks. I also question the claim of these people as “professionals.”  Certainly some of the people in the movie are, especially the skateboarders and bikers, but seriously, how does one qualify as a professional in the field of defecating in a toilet on display in a plumbing store? Groucho Marx once said that he would never join a club that would have him as a member, and I think an addendum needs to be made to include those that would encourage its members to defecate in showcase toilets. Finally there’s the part about people not doing these things, which is rather pointless, because the movie proves that people who want to do something stupid will do it no matter what.

And no stupid idea or bodily function is left unturned as a group of twenty- and thirty-something guys led by Johnny Knoxville run around and make fools of themselves for the sole purpose of making fools of themselves. It’s the sad state of celebrity that allows people to become famous simply because they’re willing to give themselves paper-cuts between their fingers and toes. Why would people do such things? Most of these “stunts” don’t have an element of danger to them—they have a guarantee of danger and physical pain. Take one bit where the guys drive around a miniature golf course in golf carts, plowing into the ceramic obstacles, crashing into each other, and flipping over hill and dales. It ends with Knoxville taking a very painful spill, which is replayed in slow motion. Are we supposed to feel bad for him? I didn’t; he did it to himself and knew it would probably happen. There’s something wrong with the cast of Jackass, and the simple fact of the matter is that watching people satisfy their masochistic tendencies isn’t fun or funny.

But that’s the sole purpose of Jackass. I was reminded of my personal experience with the toy car because the final “stunt” of the movie has one of the guys sticking a toy car in the last place you would ever think of sticking or want to stick a toy car.  The prank, like the movie as a whole, is useless. Who falls victim to it? Not the wholly understanding doctor who X-rays the oddity and certainly not the guy who did it in the first place (he seems all too eager to do it). Unfortunately, it’s us.

Copyright © 2002 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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