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DVD Review:
Jackass: The Movie
By Brian Jacks

04.09.03


MTV’s Jackass is one of those shows that literally drains brainpower from your head, but for whatever reason is watched and enjoyed by millions. Featuring crude, obnoxious, and utterly stupid stunts being videotaped by a gang of Gen-Xers, Jackass became one of the music network’s biggest hits, replacing the fading Tom Green fad. Therefore, it wasn’t a huge surprise when Paramount released a feature film version, since, after all, even Girls Gone Wild has been optioned by Hollywood.

Jackass: The Movie is a direct adaptation of the television program, with the only difference being a larger budget and a boatload of R-rated material the likes of which would cause a MTV censor’s early death. Grossing almost $65 million, the film was one of 2002’s biggest hits, and is now seeing its debut release on DVD as a “Special Collector’s Edition.”

Jackass is lead by Johnny Knoxville, who is joined by a zany crew of pain-tolerant co-stars, including Steve-O, Dave England, Ryan Dunn, and a few others, including professional skateboarder Bam Margera. The film also features celebrity appearances by Henry Rollins, Tony Hawk, Mat Hoffman, and Rip Taylor. Knoxville and his friends share a common trait, namely the willingness to do absolutely anything for a laugh. Dangle over an alligator pit with raw meat hanging from your underwear? Check. Stick electrodes to your testicles and rev up the juice? Check. Have a fat guy and a midget dress up as sumo wrestlers and chase each other through the streets of Tokyo? Hey, it’s all good in Jackassland.

The humor of the stunts varies wildly depending on how incredibly gross a particular segment is. I have to admit I did laugh quite a bit throughout, although there was also more than a few instances of looking away or holding my head in my hands, wondering why anyone would tape this. The good? Knoxville renting a car just to drive it in a demolition derby, and then attempting to return it, was pretty dang funny. As was hiding in the woods of a golf course, blowing an air horn as people attempted to tee off. Hiding a giant alligator in one of their parents’ homes was also cruelly amusing. One segment involving Tony Hawk and his colleagues performing “x-treme” stunts while dressed in fat suits was more than entertaining, it was downright impressive.

Many of the stunts attempt to garner humor from the sheer disgustingness of them, and to be fair they often succeed, although I’m not sure why anyone would find a segment consisting of someone shitting in their pants to be movie-grade material. Some of the more off-putting scenes involved shoving a toy car up someone’s ass to film the reaction of a doctor who conducted an X-Ray, someone urinating on a snowcone and then eating it, and shooting bottle rockets out of Steve-O’s ass.

Admittedly, it’s hard not to laugh at even the most stupid of the stunts, even as we constantly shake our head in amazement at the length’s people are willing to go to entertain. While Jackass: The Movie certainly won’t win any points among the sophisticates, it serves its audience well, and may even pick up a few fans along the way.


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Jackass: The Movie is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 anamorphic video. While the opening and closing sequences were shot on traditional film (quite impressively I might add), the stunts themselves, comprising the overwhelming majority of the movie, were shot on video. The transfer comes across as very clear with colors and lines remaining sharp and vivid. No compression artifacts were noticed, although video quality is degraded occasionally when a camera is slammed against the ground or struck by a giant marble.

On the audio front, a single Dolby Digital 5.1 track is included. Since the film is primarily dialogue-driven, the entire soundstage is utilized rarely, with most audio delivered through the front channels. Rear speakers are occasionally given a workout with songs including Baby Got Back, and quite a few punk numbers. All in all, as good as one would expect given it’s essentially a television show ported to film.

Supplementary speaking, a number of extras are included. Headlining the package are two feature-length commentaries, one by Johnny Knoxville, director Jeff Tremaine, and cinematographer Dimitry Elyashkevich, and the other featuring the remaining cast. While the former does include some technical discussions, such as how scenes were set up and how filming generally went, most of the two commentaries revolve around funny stories and experiences that occurred during the filming of the movie. Generally entertaining, fans of the show will appreciate these more than casual viewers.

Next up is a 25-minute “making of” featurette that aired on MTV. Somewhat more in-depth than the typical “behind the scenes” segment, in this one we hear from most of the primary stars, as well the crew, including the director and cameramen. Particularly interesting is how they describe the transition from television to film, such as the difficulty they experienced when attempting to operate the more complicated cameras. Overall, an entertaining look behind the creation of this truly warped project.

Also noteworthy is 27 minutes of deleted scenes from the film. Spliced together into one featurette, there is a considerable amount of footage here. Not only do we see extended clips from stunts aired in the film, but also scenes that were completely left out. Quite a bit of it is very amusing, although there is the occasional clip where it isn’t hard to figure out why it was cut.

Also included are two music videos: “If You’re Gonna Be Dumb” by Roger Alan Wade, and the far more entertaining one, “We Want Fun” by punk/rock sensation Andrew W.K.

Rounding out the extras are additional individual outtakes, the film’s theatrical trailer, television promo spots, photo and poster galleries, and biographies for the cast and crew.


The Movie: B+. Everyone with a Peter Pan complex will get their money’s worth.

The Look: B. Fans of the show will enjoy seeing the crew in their widescreen glory.

The Sound: B. Not the most aggressive sountrack, but it gets the job done.

The Extras: B+. Commentaries and two featurettes highlight this supplement package.

Overall: B+. Often gross but usually amusing, it’s hard not to enjoy Jackass: The Movie.

 

 
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