Early on in “Jackass Forever”, Johnny Knoxville says, “Twenty years later, we’re still doing the same stupid shit.” And that pretty much sums things up. 49-year-old Knoxville, 46-year-old Steve-O and other veteran “Jackass” members return — along with some newbies — in this latest adventure in self-torture for laughs. They subject themselves in a series of painful bits — that mostly involve their bits.
There are nearly 30 different vignettes. Some last under a minute. Others go on for several minutes. They all have the same basic flow: An explanation of what’s about to happen, followed by us (internally) predicting what’s going to happen.
Then the stunt happens. And it goes pretty much how we thought it would. Team members and crew laugh much louder and longer than anyone in the theater. Then come the slow-motion instant replays. And finally a fade to black — and we start all over again. Most the segments are either disgusting, inane or both. I realize that’s the whole point, but there still needs to be a level of entertainment for this exercise to have a purpose — and the level reached here is way too low.
I was a fan of 2013’s (Oscar nominated) “Bad Grandpa”, which featured Knoxville as the title character and a series clever, very funny pranks played on real people. Last year’s “Bad Trip” (also from the “Jackass” creative team) worked as well. The phony narratives involving unsuspecting victims provide the opportunity for actual comedy. Having mostly middle-aged men doing intentional, predictable physical stunts and pulling obvious gags on each other does not. Watching people get hit in the private parts over and over again just isn’t funny. (I made that same statement about live-action family films 12 years ago.)
Knoxville’s “Bad Grandpa” character Irving Zisman does make a brief appearance in one of the too few prank bits. A few other celebs show up, including Machine Gun Kelly, Eric Andre (of “Bad Trip”), Tony Hawk and Rob Dyrdek of fellow MTV hit “Ridiculousness”, another show known for incessant laughing at people doing really stupid stuff.
Only a few things kept my interest. One was Knoxville’s hair: darker in scenes obviously filmed prior to COVID and silver when “Jackass Forever” resumed filming in Fall 2020. Plenty of crew members do sport face masks. And a few gags towards the end of the film featuring animals provide some shock-value. (Here’s a hint: they’ll make you think of the stock market.)
If this is your definition of funny — and even if you’ve been seeing the spoiler-heavy trailers (for what feels like forever) — you may really enjoy “Jackass Forever”. Good for you. I didn’t. Sorry if that makes me “Lights Camera Jackass” to all you diehards of the franchise.
LCJ GRADE: D
Running Time: 96 min.