Johnny Knoxville and the Jackass boys are growing up. And no, that's not a good thing for this franchise. While the previous two films were largely hit or miss with me (I'm not familiar with the TV show that inspired the films, and have no real desire to familiarize myself.), I had to grudgingly admire them in a small way for the sheer anarchy on display. Jackass 3D almost seems to be playing it safe, as the aging thrill-seekers perform stunts and pranks that seem rather tame compared to the stuff they did before.
These are guys who swam with sharks, rode atop rockets launched into the sky, smashed themselves up in runaway golf carts and shopping carts, stuck leeches on their eyes, and braved alligators with raw chicken stuffed in their shorts. There was always this sneaking dread that one or more of the cast members would end up dead by the time the end credits rolled around. Even if you weren't entertained by the obnoxious antics, you couldn't take your eyes off the screen, because you couldn't believe what you were seeing. This time, the shock and awe is lessened by the fact that the stunts just don't seem quite as dangerous as before. Oh, they get into a ring with an angry bull or a ram once in a while. And the climactic stunt involving one of the guys in a catapulting port-o-potty will have you cringing. But you won't be cringing out of fear for the safety of the guy up on the screen. You'll be cringing in disgust.
That's one thing the movie still does have. Projectile vomiting, people covered in human feces, and a guy being made to drink sweat that's been drained off an obese man on a treadmill are just some of the images you'll be attempting to wash from your mind after you see this movie. As the title suggests, it's all in 3D, which seems less like a gimmick, and more like a cruel prank on the audience. It seems like Knoxville and his regular band of idiots know they can't do a lot of the dangerous stunts they used to, so they resort to plain-old gross out humor, or timid pranks, such as having one of the guys dress up like a gorilla and have him run amok in an unsuspecting couple's hotel room. It's a promising set up for a funny prank, but there's no real pay off. The payoff we do get has nothing to do with the actual stunt itself, it's just more uninspired toilet humor.
The gags in this film suffer from a lot of payoff problems, actually. I didn't know how to even respond to some of them. One gag involving guys playing Tetherball with a hive of angry bees ends with them running away in fear after only a few seconds. Another, where a guy is unknowingly dropped into a pit of live and rubber snakes, ends with him seemingly near-tears and cursing out the cast and crew around him. Maybe these guys aren't enjoying this stuff as much as they used to? Honestly, the only time I actually did laugh at the antics up on the screen was the skits where they just perform random, bizarre acts in front of ordinary people who are not in on the joke. There's a memorable bar fight involving midgets, that only gets funnier as it escalates and grows more absurd. There's also a gag where a guy walks into a store, telling a random stranger to watch his dog that he leaves outside the store. It's a simple payoff, but effective.
Jackass 3D will definitely make as much money as the earlier films, probably more so, thanks to the added 3D price. But, I sincerely hope that this is the last film in the series. It's not so much because I think the stunts are declining in quality (even if they are), but because there's going to be a point very soon where it's just going to be sad watching these guys do this stuff. Everyone has to grow up eventually. And unfortunately for Knoxville and his crew, they're just not the boys they used to be.
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