Ssomewhere in the middle of “Jackass Forever,” the daredevil band reflects on the fact that they’re revisiting some stunts after 20 years of chaos.
They are not short of ideas; if “Jackass Forever” proves anything, it’s that there’s no limit to the number of ways these artists can find to hurt and/or embarrass each other. On the contrary, they repeat certain elements because there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Even if the snobs prefer to deny it, hitting an exceptionally strong man in the crotch will still be funny.
At least every few years. Give the poor cast time to heal.
There has been a significant break since we last saw the “Jackass” team. The final film in the series proper, “Jackass 3D”, debuted in 2010; a 2013 narrative spin-off, “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,” threw cold water on the concept for a while.
I’ll admit one thing, though: I missed the show. I generally find slapstick violence at the right time – in the right doses – to be hilarious. Although the “Jackass” movies can sometimes be a bit more anatomical and scatalogical than I would prefer, they are very reliable sources of belly laughs for me. If a man skateboards down a sidewalk only to have a gigantic fist hurl at him at full speed, I’m likely to fall out of my chair laughing.
The “Jackass” roster got deeper and more diverse this time around; for the first time, there are black (Jasper Dolphin and Eric Manaka) and female (Rachel Wolfson) actors. They and other young recruits provide some relief to the veterans, who – now in their 40s – are still willing to suffer, but not as often.
The new players also make up for two notable absences. Longtime actor Ryan Dunn died in a drunk driving accident in 2011; Bam Margera, another vet on the show, unfortunately had a public falling out with the team over addiction issues. These absences are a shame, of course. But by replacing Dunn and Margera with a younger, more diverse cast of performers, some of the show’s unhappy brotherhood energy faded.
Well, part; it’s “Jackass”, after all.
Curious moviegoers should be warned that this final chapter is probably the grossest in the series, and that’s saying something; while actors may feel too old to rush down certain embankments, you’re never too old to do ridiculous things with your own naked form. While these films have good pacing – a short, quick-impact stunt will lead to a more elaborate setup and then another quick hit – some sequences wear down their welcome.
In the end, however, I wanted more cathartic mayhem. And, with a new generation hard at work, we’ll probably get there.
My rating: 7/10
“Jackass Forever” is in theaters now.