I've always found the concept of Jackass to be an entertaining mix of outrageous physical humor and repulsive shock-and-awe gags. In their latest entry, Johnny Knoxville and Co. add 3D to the mix and end up with a film that not only lives up to their extreme brand of humor, but displays a zest for life that we rarely see on screen, even in fictional stories.
An introduction by Beavis and Butthead starts the film on a great note and sets the tone for the kind of humorous stupidity we've come to expect from this franchise. You know what you're getting here: each gag seems more outlandish than the one before, and the guys seem to be on a quest to top what they've done in their previous two films. Since starting Jackass ten years ago, most of the guys have now aged into their late thirties - astonishingly old considering the physical stress they continue to endure for our entertainment. One would assume that with age comes wisdom, but that is certainly not the case here. The Jackasses seem a bit more guarded this time around, but give them credit: they still attack their stunts with reckless abandon and come away with ridiculous footage worthy of the film's title.
The 3D is, in my opinion, absolutely worth the cost of admission. The opening and closing sequences - known in these films for being ridiculous - feature arguably the best use of depth in the entire film. Use of the Phantom camera (shooting up to 1,000 frames per second) provides a combo of super slow motion and 3D that almost certainly captured the attention of Zack Snyder. The final scene, so full of explosions and destruction that it destroys the set, gives Michael Bay a run for his money. However, if you don't feel like shelling out the extra cash, I spoke to Knoxville and the rest of the guys and they made clear the fact that they wanted the film to be just as funny in two dimensions. (Sure, there are some 3D specific bits, but for the most part you'll be fine in 2D if you want to avoid the extra cost.) But for those that pay extra, you will be rewarded. When a couple of the guys play a game of tether-ball with a beehive filled with angry bees, the audience must shake off the uneasy feeling that the bees have entered the theater because the use of 3D is so effective. One might assume the larger cameras and advanced technology would A) hinder the run-and-gun filming style of the Jackass crew or B) lend an air of credulity to what they're doing, possibly offsetting some of the more childish stunts due to a sense of guilt from using the world's most expensive cameras to record pranks. Both assumptions are misguided.
Perhaps some of you are wondering if the Jackasses are still capable of the same level of filth they've achieved (or sank to?) in years past. To answer, I'll tell you that I literally choked back bile several times in the theater and came within seconds of vomiting in the aisle. There are things in this movie that have never been shown on screen before, such vile departures from normal human behavior that we can't help but half-laugh, half-gasp at the audacity of it all. I won't reveal the individual gags - there's really no need to go into detail about them here - but mixed in with the depravity is a sense of exploration and pushing the limits that wasn't featured as prominently in previous films. The guys seem united in a common goal, and even the reactions to pranks among themselves (some of the funniest moments in the film) give a sort of "comrades in arms" vibe, as opposed to Jackass Number Two in which I felt there was no way these guys could stay friends after the stuff they did to each other. This movie is a bit more lighthearted; I think they realize how old they're getting and know that this is probably their last film together (at least with this structure).
If you're averse to seeing male nudity, disgusting gags, and a bit with the name "Sweatsuit Cocktail" makes you shudder just thinking about it, then definitely stay away from this one. But if you're a fan of this series, it's an amazing entry that pushes the limits further than they've ever gone before and does it with an effective use of 3D that makes Jackass 3D one of the funniest films of the year. Until next time...