By: Addison Wylie
How exactly do you start off a review for Jackass 3D? Do you talk about the controversial history the show had before its leap to the big screen? Upset parents from all over the world feared this show. Even though there were disclaimers in front of the show stating that Johnny Knoxville and his band of merry morons were professionals, kids were still macing themselves and kicking their friends in the crotch. With the leap to movie theaters nationwide, the Jackass boys were allowed more leeway in regards to what they could show and how much more pain they could endue and inflict. Do you start the review with stating how this is the third installment of the film series and how this film is utilizing James Cameron’s 3D technology? Audience members walk into the dark theatre not realizing what they’re about to see held up to their eyes as if they were involved in the stunt as well. There are actually lots of ways to start off the review but the main focus is whether the boys are able to make us laugh for a third time in a row. Do they? Well, if you leave your brain at the door, sit back, and let the insanity unravel, you’ll most certainly have a blast watching various stunts and pranks unfold. However, there is something that makes this Jackass movie different from the previous two; and I’m not talking about the 3D cameras.
First off, the 3D technology. Even though the audience may be witnessing disgusting, painful visuals, the footage itself has never looked better. By using advanced 3D cameras, the image is crisp and clear using the medium to involve its audience appropriately. Dimitry Elyashkevich, a recurring Jackass crew member, along with his colleagues Lance Bangs and Rick Kosick, have mastered the cameras impressively. The three cameramen are able to capture the hysteria happening in the scene but make use of the negative space within the shot. Whether there are movements happening in the foreground, such as Wee Man running in front of the camera, or action that’s in the background zooming towards the foreground, such as the paintballs pelting and missing Ehren McGhehey but flying towards the camera nonetheless, the audience always feels as if they are interacting with the activity. In fact, that opening sequence featuring the gang getting hit in slow motion by air compressed balloons or by other various objects, features some of my favorite shots I’ve seen in a movie this year. As always, director Jeff Tremaine helms this beast flawlessly. He knows what reactions he wants and, by knowing this, he’s able to communicate to his team how exactly the shots should be angled, where cameras should be hidden, and how the scenes should be edited. The man knows exactly how to pin down honest scares and express them in a rare way most filmmakers would fumble at.
The behind-the-scenes crew aren’t the only group who should be showcased. After all, it’s Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O, Wee Man, Preston Lacy, Chris Pontius, Ehren McGhehey, and Dave England who are getting pummeled, hit, and destroyed throughout the motion picture. Whether you dislike this form of comedy or not, one has to tip their hat in the direction of these guys for executing tasks that could very well put them at great risk. Also, this group works so well together that they are still able to be charismatic while they’re in pain. They improvise well off one another which makes the humorous exchanges flow so well. Sadly, some members don’t return for this outing such as CKY regular Brandon DiCamillo but we do get more screen time of the lesser known characters in the Jackass universe. Loomis Fall, who is involved within the production of Jackass and has taken part in a couple stunts over the years, has a bigger part in this film; looking fear in the eye and laughing in its face. Fans of the show will also get a sketch featuring Handsome Jack, who would appear in numerous “candid camera” style skits on the television show, and we get more stunts where punching bag Brandon Novak is the butt and punch line of many physical gags. The fact that Bam is able to set up physical gags around him without him noticing makes the scenes that much more funnier.
With all this positive feedback, there were some aspects that left me a tad disappointed. I, for one, didn’t find the “candid camera” sketches that effective. In fact, most of the time, there’s no end result and the skit goes nowhere. A prank involving Knoxville as an old man who passionately kisses his niece is a scene in particular where some hysterical, genuine reactions could’ve been found but the result is a dud due to the lack of comedic flow. Scenes where Knoxville and collaborator Spike Jonze dress up as senior citizens play as if they are a teaser for the special features on the unrated DVD. Jonze is hilarious when he’s impersonating old people but he’s given hardly any screen time here to shine. Some of the sketches have rocky patches as well. A scene where Wee Man gets in a brawl with a gang of other little people is a little slow from the get-go but ultimately it builds up as the skit progresses. The overall feel of the film however feels as if all the creativity usually assigned to the backbone of the stunts and pranks was more-so applied to the new 3D technology. It’s as if the gang decided to let the 3D do all the talking. It made me appreciate the prior movies more. In those movies, we were seeing demented, unreal stunts take place; things we’d never seen before. Here, a lot of the stunts feel like a rehash of other similar activities. We get another prank on Margera that plays with his fear of snakes and although its funny, the sequences is almost a beat for beat repeat of the snake prank in Number Two. There’s scene that appears to be original where Pontius has his chin exposed upside down while the rest of his face is hidden and a frustrated scorpion attacks his mouth. Again, it’s funny but we saw something similar to this and more creatively executed in Number Two when Pontius’ penis was involved in a dangerous puppet show. I also couldn’t help but notice how a lot of the scenes took place at the same locations. This to me screams uninspired and lazy. In the previous two movies, the location played a big role in establishing the mood of the jokes. In Jackass 3D, when I saw numerous jokes take place on the same vacant football field, I was let down. I was consistently laughing throughout the movie but couldn’t help but find myself wanting something more advanced that wouldn’t remind me of these past stunts.
Jackass 3D is still a solid entry into the Jackass film franchise and it accomplishes every goal it set out to do. It’s funny, it’s disgusting, it’s technically competent and it’s a great time at the movies. I just hope next time the boys can apply their delirious brilliance more to the writing of the stunts and not put it on the back burner.