Mark Reviews Movies

JACKASS NUMBER TWO

3 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Jeff Tremaine

MPAA Rating: R (for extremely crude and dangerous stunts throughout, sexual content, nudity and language)

Running Time: 1:35

Release Date: 9/22/06


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Review by Mark Dujsik

Either the boys of "Jackass" caught me in an odd mood to watch people do stupid things or I've grown a bit more fond of them or my interest in seeing them injure themselves has grown, but for some reason completely and utterly foreign to me, I enjoyed Jackass Number Two. When people ask me for the worst movies I've seen since I've become a critic, Jackass: The Movie invariably finds its place on that list. I loathed and despised that movie, and I still stand by those feelings and my zero-star rating. However, the sequel is a different story, and for whatever reason, I laughed loud and often at how this group of suspiciously dubbed "professionals" push the limit of taste and decency and completely eradicate common sense. This time around, there are more segments that actually feel like stunts, more which caused me to put hands to my face with fingers split to watch anyway, and more that play as guerilla theatre. There's also a better sense of fun and camaraderie coming from the crew—a feeling that they take pride in each other's success and actually take into account the risk of serious injury or death. So, I suppose my enjoyment comes from a combination of all three of the possibilities I first mentioned.

In case you've been living under a rock, "Jackass" started as a show on MTV starring a group of twenty- and thirty-somethings who do insane stunts and intentionally injure themselves for laughs. It's sadomasochism at its drunkest. The guys, led by Johnny Knoxville, come up with insane concepts, which usually involve bodily functions, fluids, nudity, personal injury, or any combination of those, and film them. So like its predecessor, the film is a collection of "stunts" played nonstop with the themes of bodily functions, fluids, nudity, personal injury, or any combination of those tying them together. I could discuss the psychological causes of such behavior or the social ramifications of its popularity, but that's covered enough in my review of the first movie. Besides, so many elements of both are so obvious, they don't really need to be spoken. Instead, let's take it for granted that material like this spells the end of society, and just move on. The film is funny in that way watching any kind of harmless stupidity is. It's important to note the word harmless, because there's no sense of ill will or misanthropy present. When they play jokes on other people, there's actually a joke.

Take director Spike Jones dressing up as an old woman who loses her clothing or Knoxville as either the old man whose junk hangs out of his shorts or who is an incredibly bad influence on his grandson. It's obvious stuff, but there's actually a target of the joke. Less obvious are multiple scenes of the grotesque. Bam Margera has a phallus branded on his ass, and I'm curious as to whether or not the shot of a bull afterwards is meant as a commentary about animal cruelty. Steve-O—well, Steve-O does a lot of gross things. He puts a fish hook through his cheek and becomes bait for sharks. He has a leech placed on his eye. He puts himself in a scuba mask and has someone fart into it (the guy does more than that, but we'll leave well enough alone). Someone defecates on screen, so it's somewhat surprising that when Chris Pontius drinks a certain fluid from a horse the moment is censored out. Yet another incredibly weird double standard brought to you by the MPAA. If I make the movie sound incredibly vulgar, good; it is. It is also full of tricks and physical stunts, like skateboarders trying to make it across a gauntlet of sandbags and Knoxville attempting to ride a rocket. Unlike its predecessor, this movie actually understands that stunts take some kind of skill.

That's not to say everything is about jumping the English Channel. Wee Man (Jason Acuña) has some confusion over a professional card thrower and an electrified stool that's just hilarious, and I still can't believe Steve-O had a leech put on his eye. If you liked the first movie, you'll like this one. If you didn't like the first movie, some advice:  There's an audience for this movie, and you'll probably know if you're part of it. I'm shocked I am.

Copyright © 2006 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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