Jackass: Effort Where None is Needed

We chose to buy a Roku streaming box over the Apple TV a few months ago. Most of the reasoning behind it was financial, as the base-level Roku (which we bought) is cheaper than the ATV. However, in addition to it being a great Netflix streamer, Amazon Instant Video has also been a boon, especially given that they often have one-day, $1 rental deals on movies, something I don’t think iTunes does (I could be completely wrong about this, though). Sunday, I took advantage of this while Queta learned how to use a spinning wheel without being affected by a witch’s curse and finally watched Jackass 3D.

(NOTE: It was not in 3D when I watched it. Can’t have everything, guys.)

Now, I could write a proper review of this movie, but there’d be no point; J3D is structured exactly the same as the previous films and TV shows, in that there is little structure at all. The only real differences this time around are the 3D (which, again, was not a factor here) and the quality of filming. The gang really upped their game on this one, making full use of the Phantom HD slo-mo camera in scenes such as the “Rocky” gags, where Bam sneaks up on someone with a cup of water then punches them in the face. In real time, it’s a cheap shot. At 500+ frames per second, it almost becomes art:

BTW, J3D handles the “fast to slow” shift better than any Zack Snyder movie. Apart from the technological advancement, though, J3D is almost exactly the same as the previous incarnations, and that’s not bad at all.

I am an unapologetic fan of Jackass. It may seem like a string of lowbrow, often disgusting pranks with little social worth (and the really gross stuff is often too much for me), but not everything needs to be deep. As much as I long for smart comedy, one needs to cleanse the palate once in a while, and nothing accomplishes that like seeing a bunch of guys getting hit in the balls or running a tire course through a hallway filled with hanging stun guns and cattle prods.

That last one actually happens in J3D.

Here’s the thing with Jackass: even the dumbest stunts they do have a certain genius to them. Case in point: “Beehive Tetherball.”

I don’t care how dumb you think this stunt is (and believe me, it’s dumb as fuck), tell me anyone else on Earth could have come up with that. And even if they did, to actually go to the trouble of figuring out how to rig a beehive to a tetherball pole requires way more foresight than some give the Jackass crew credit for. One review said it best, and I’ll paraphrase: there’s a reason the Jackass crew makes millions when anyone with a Flip cam can post on YouTube, and that’s because they’re the best at what they do. This is more than just camcorder video of nut shots; Jackass is about putting effort into the dumbest of endeavors, and that effort shows.

And often, it’s the simplest idea that works best. “The High Five” is the first skit in the film, and it’s easily the most effective one based on the “effort-to-laughs” ratio. It was the biggest laugh in the trailer, and maintains that distinction in its full form:

It’s just a giant hand smacking people, but it’s still funny as hell.

Look, I get people wanting more intelligence from their comedy; I do too. But everything can’t be “Community” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm” or “Frasier.” Sometimes you gotta shut your brain off and watch a buffalo charge an idiot in roller skates. (Also in the film.) But I still require effort from performers, even when they’re simply putting their reproductive organs in peril, and for all the criticism the Jackass crew gets, being lazy about their comedy isn’t part of it. And that’s where my respect for them comes from. If they want to put Steve-O into a porta-potty full of poop and launch it two hundred feet into the air, then by god, they will make it work.

"But does it NEED all the poop? I'm just asking...."

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna strap rockets to a surfboard and head over to Manhattan Beach. Something funny’s gotta come from this, right?

About Louis

This entry was posted in Projected Pixels and Emulsion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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