Film Review: Jackass 3D

Lock up your sons and daughters! The 'Jackass' crew brings their painfully juvenile antics into the third dimension in part three of the still-lucrative theatrical franchise, which just scored a mighty $50 million opening weekend.

Whatever your feelings may be about the Jackass phenomenon in general—hilarious avant-garde stunt or incontrovertible evidence of America’s moral decay—there’s at least one positive thing to say about the latest, 3D-enhanced entry in this durable brand: You get what you pay for.

That’s actually no small feat; at a time when audiences are growing increasingly jaded with paying higher ticket prices for a technology that rarely enhances the moviegoing experience, this film, like James Cameron’s Avatar before it, uses 3D to show you things you’ve never seen before. Things like an enormous dildo being fired out of a pump gun and shattering a glass of milk, numerous close-ups of assorted individuals being punched in the face in super slow-motion and, last but certainly not least, the awe-inspiring (and nausea-inducing) sight of a mountain of shit erupting from a guy’s anus. Whether you actually want to see any of those things is a whole other matter, but the Jackass fan base should come away from the experience satisfied that the extra money they spent to witness the carnage in 3D was worth it.

At the same time, though, the lack of an extra dimension wouldn’t have hurt the film all that much. The truth is that most of the outrageously stupid stunts that constitute the franchise’s bread-and-butter don’t require any additional visual enhancement. Moviegoers would have laughed, groaned or gagged at bits like “Tee Ball” (Jackass veteran and recovering drug addict Steve-O gets hit in the nuts with a tee ball), “Sweatsuit Cocktail” (a portly gentleman works out until he’s sweating buckets, at which point another guy—poor Steve-O again—drinks the fluid that’s collected in the plastic suit covering his body) and “Bad Dog” (Jackass ringleader Johnny Knoxville becomes a chew toy for a vicious attack dog) with or without the 3D boost.

Where the technology does come in handy are the slow-motion replays that accompany every stunt—with the 3D playback, you can really feel that dog taking a bite out of Knoxville’s ass—as well as the gags that are specifically designed to take advantage of the special 3D cameras built for the film. (That’s right, Jackass 3D was actually shot in 3D; after all, these guys would never go in for a lame conversion job like Clash of the Titans or The Last Airbender.) Examples of those stunts include “The Rocky” (the aforementioned clips of people being punched in the face) and the closing sequence, where the entire Jackass crew assembles on a soundstage that’s subsequently blown to bits by a series of explosions, all to the bombastic sounds of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

What’s interesting about Jackass 3D is that, despite all the mayhem and gross behavior on display, the film’s overall mood is downright genial. Perhaps that can be attributed to the advancing age of the guys themselves; the safety-challenged daredevils who launched the franchise are all a decade older now and they seem genuinely amazed—and more than a little bewildered—that they’re still willingly subjecting themselves to this kind of abuse. That attitude makes them seem less like obnoxious punks (which is how they often came across in the series’ early years) than a group of old buddies teaming up for one last joyride. There’s certainly something charming about the camaraderie this gang of idiots shares, as well as their general inclusiveness. It doesn’t matter if you’re short, fat or ugly—if you’re willing to take a tee ball to the nads, you too can be a Jackass.

A feeling of nostalgia for bygone days permeates the entire production, manifesting itself most obviously in the closing credits, which feature old video clips and boyhood photos of all the principals. It’s also no accident that the last stunt in the movie is an updated version of one the very first Jackass gags ever committed to film, the so-called “Poo Cocktail,” where a guy is locked in an overflowing Port-o-Potty that’s then shaken around until he’s covered in excrement. Here that trick has been modified into the “Poo Cocktail Supreme” and involves bungee cords and small 3D cameras mounted inside the plastic john that literally capture the second that the shit hits the fan. This stunt handily encapsulates Jackass 3D as well as the prevailing Jackass ethos: It’s a stupid and crazy waste of time, money and resources, but you’ve never seen anyone else stupid or crazy enough to attempt something quite like it.