As much as I’m a sucker for anything Jackass related, I’m compelled by the slew of strange copycats that followed the success of the stunt-and-prank franchise. Call it a guilty pleasure, I suppose, but it taps into a time that felt dangerous and outrageous, and the behaviour was often deemed as “just a phase” and otherwise ignored (despite the constant warnings and disclaimers slapped on to Jackass by MTV and Paramount Pictures). If independent third-parties were able to make a quick buck, these DIY imitations would usually be shadily supported.
Then, you have projects like MSC: The Movie or the recent feature-length compilation Magnum Opus: The .MOVie – films that were released independently by the creators to reminisce on their youth rather than turn a profit. These movies are tricky to review, but I’m up for a challenge. They’re essentially an unconventional peek into someone else’s past. We don’t get background on who they were, but the audience gets a general feel for what their social life was like and what amused them (or still amuses them). Under that rubric, I was disturbed by MSC: The Movie. Peter Guzda’s flick showed how he and his friends kept themselves entertained throughout high school – I grew more concerned with each segment.
I was never disturbed or concerned by Magnum Opus: The.MOVie or its showcase of “stunts” (almost always starring its director Addison Binek). The physical comedy is framed exactly like Jackass (edited similarly with the same lower-third name tags), but most of it is very lame with soft edges and exaggerated reactions. As much as this sounds like a burn towards the movie, it surprisingly isn’t. Sure, Magnum Opus: The .MOVie isn’t going to shock you, but there’s charm in its awkward cringe. Some bits are fittingly and legitimately reckless and stupid (Binek goes from stapling papers to their arm to stapling the webbing between their thumb and pointer) and some bits simply don’t read well on camera (a tedious “bloody knuckles” match), but the courage during the other low-stake charades is endearing. That’s why, in some sense, I like this project more than something more daring like MSC: The Movie. I’d rather see someone dip a nacho in the sand at the beach and eat it than watch someone nail their scrotum to a piece of wood, but maybe I’m old fashioned.
However, MSC: The Movie had a contemporary component to it with its reflective narration by Guzda that glues the stupidity together. Magnum Opus: The .MOVie doesn’t have anything like that, which makes the film feel like the audience is watching a collection of inside jokes. Binek has made it clear on social media that the film’s intent is to primarily be a compilation, but narration or interviews with its participants would break up the pacing and give the audience more insight into what compelled these kids to be so dumb, A dedication during the end credits really made me long for context.
Magnum Opus: The .MOVie feels like half a movie, but it’s half of a movie that will evoke nostalgia and make someone happy.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie
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