Twenty years on from 'Jackass: The Movie', the original crew of 'Jackass' (Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee-Man, Danger Ehren, Dave England, Chris Pontius, and Preston Lacy) return for more painful stunts with a new team of performers and some celebrity guests, including Tyler The Creator, Eric Andre, and Tony Hawk.
There's high-brow humour, there's low-brow humour, there's twenty feet of clay and earth, and there's 'Jackass Forever'. Rest assured, this isn't meant to sound disparaging or even remotely critical. Quite the opposite, in fact. From the very opening sequence which sees Chris Pontius' ballsack double for a city-destroying monster, you know that 'Jackass Forever' isn't attempting Cowardesque wit. Thus, you can safely park your dignity and your self-respect at the door and enjoy laughing like a hyena at everything on screen.
Like previous efforts, 'Jackass Forever' has no overriding plot or theme. It's simply a series of skits and stunts, edited together with some musical accoutrements, maybe a celebrity performer here and there, and punctuated by raucous laughter and some of the camera operators dry-retching into their N95 masks as the stunt performer writhes on the ground. You can't overanalyse any of it, because it's just so stupid. Chris Pontius manages to clamp his penis into two pieces of perspex and uses it as a ping-pong paddleboard. One of the new blood, Zackass, dives off a board and into a sea of cacti. Johnny Knoxville gets a broken rib and a concussion from a charging bull (Knoxville, it should be pointed out, turned 50 this year). Preston Lacy, 51, lowers his balls into a tiny gym where they stand in for a speedbag while a pair of boxing gloves on a power-drill batter away at them. Just before he and Wee-Man are about to attempt The Lift™ from 'Dirty Dancing', the scene gets derailed in the most disgusting and hilarious way possible.
Smartly, director Jeff Tremaine and the editors refuse to dwell on the bittersweet nature of 'Jackass Forever' until the end credits after all the important stuff has been taken care of. Each of the old crew has had their share of personal problems, but they all seem so happy and joyful in each other's company that it all seems to evaporate. The new members, during the credits, eagerly talk about how they watched 'Jackass' as disaffected youths and are now their peers. Johnny Knoxville's savage bull stunt is placed alongside a similar stunt in his younger days. Machine Gun Kelly, who gets hit in the face with a giant hand alongside Steve-O, shows off a 'Jackass' tattoo he got as a teenager. The credits finally close with archival footage of Ryan Dunn, looking at the camera as he's covered in glitter and possibly dazed from a blast of an air cannon.
'Jackass Forever' is likely to be the last time the surviving cast of the original show will be together on screen and willing to put their bodies (and genitalia) on the line for mindless entertainment. You would think that middle age would make some people reflect, take stock of their lives, and perhaps gain some perspective on their wild, misspent youth. If that happened for the members of 'Jackass' while filming this, it must have taken place off-camera because so much of 'Jackass Forever' is devoted to them cracking up while they take part in dangerously stupid stunts.
Maybe that's how they want to be remembered. Maybe that's enough.