You’ve got to give it to the Jackass crew—their commitment to their crass craft is awe-inspiring. In the second big-screen iteration of MTV’s reality series, Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, and the rest of the gung-ho knuckleheaded gang return for more bodily fluid and self-mutilation antics, and somehow manage to up the ante in terms outrageousness, imprudence, and hilarity. Employing the same basic template established by its TV and cinematic predecessors, director Jeff Tremaine’s sequel is nothing more than a sequence of DV-shot stunts and pranks that push the limits of vulgarity and recklessness, and as such registers—aside from some Busby Berkeley-ish choreography during its closing set piece—more as a homemade video collage of idiotic exploits than as an actual film. Which isn’t, however, to denigrate Jackass: Number Two, which proves so ingeniously juvenile and reliably astounding that most aesthetic (and bad taste-related) issues are quickly washed away in a surge of uproarious laughter. To describe Knoxville and company’s various feats of stupidity would be to ruin the cringe-inducing enjoyment that comes from learning what each new segment will involve, but suffice it to say that blood, reptile attacks, animal ejaculate, rockets, skateboards, and pubic hair all factor into the proceedings. The overriding atmosphere created by this barrage of male nudity and rectal-related gags is less homoerotic than it is giddily puerile, as the Jackasses are, at heart, simply adult men who never outgrew their immature infatuation with shit, piss, and smacking each other (and themselves) senseless. And such goofy childishness, when coupled with the obvious care and concern they feel for one another even while delivering punches to the face or kicks to the groin, gives Jackass: Number Two a surprisingly kindhearted spirit. As with Looney Tunes characters, they suffer brutal injuries in one scene only to reappear, healthy and ready for more punishment, in the next, with the cumulative effect being that the film seems like a gleeful rebuke to timeworn parental warnings that kids must understand that they’re not invincible. That probably makes the side-splitting Jackass franchise irresponsible. But it doesn’t change the fact that, until you’ve seen The Butt Chug, you really haven’t seen anything.
- Jeff Tremaine
- Sean Cliver, Preston Lacy
- Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Ryan Dunn, Ehren McGhehey, Dave England, Jason "Wee Man" Acuña
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