In the 2000 “South Park” episode “Fat Camp,” the eternally hooded Kenny accepts a sum of money from his friends for eating a manatee spleen. The incident leads to a nationally televised career during which Kenny ends up performing fellatio on Howard Stern and works up to spending time in his bus driver’s womb.
On Jesus’ TV show, the son of God makes an interesting point to Kenny’s friends: By definition, Kenny is a prostitute. He does things that anyone could do “ things that require no special skill, only willingness for debasement “ for money.
“Jackass 3D” brings that definition to mind, especially considering it may have been directed at “Jackass” in the first place. Although the franchise has been around 10 years, up to now there was a feeling of a group of dumb guys just having fun together.
The TV series and the first “Jackass” movie captured that spontaneity, giving the audience the impression that these people would be acting like this whether there was a camera on them or not. They seemed to be having so much fun that the terminal 14-year-old in all of us could be goaded into cackling at toilet humor like Ryan Dunn going for an X-ray at a doctor’s office with a toy car lodged in his rectum, or posse member Dave England dropping a deuce in a hardware store’s display toilet.
Unfortunately, that freewheeling, feeling is gone from this third film, and one gets the impression that everyone involved desperately needs money for mortgage and car payments, food and booze, not to mention dental and medical care.
The usual gang of idiots — including Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Jason “Wee-Man” Acuña — is present and accounted for, but a little worse for wear and seeming a little tired of the shtick.
For example, in the opening sequence, Knoxville rigs a giant hand, called the “High Five,” to swing out and whack unsuspecting cast members as they enter the office. After each person is knocked on his back, the crew jumps out and howls like it’s the funniest thing that ever happened.
But their laughter feels forced, especially after the first time, and that crack in the facade sets the tone for the rest of the movie. One begins to realize that a lot of these guys are pushing 40, still paying the bills by getting gored by bulls, butted by rams, rimmed by pigs and punted in the jimmies by donkeys.
Margera, in particular, seems tired of the whole thing, although he’s one of the youngest involved. He bitches and moans about being Tasered, and is reduced to near-panic when his “pals” trap him in a pit with several dozen snakes. Still, it’s kind of fun to see him take abuse after witnessing his bratty persona on MTV’s “Viva La Bam,” which was largely a vehicle for his torturing his parents.
As far as the 3-D goes, it’s a gimmick that doesn’t make the stunts more interesting or shocking than they would be otherwise. In one notable attempt, a “gentleman” named Will the Farter uses his special “talent” to blow a party favor into the lens. It pops out of the screen a little bit, but the shot is too blurry to justify the effect and, honestly, without being able to smell the gas, what’s the point? To be fair, the poop volcano was in focus, so it wasn’t a total loss, technically speaking.
In a way, it’s kind of sad to see the “Jackass” jackasses come to this, because they’re fairly likable. The idea for the show originally grew out of Knoxville and his buddies screwing around with a video camera, turning boredom into a viable moneymaking venture for guys without much talent or other marketable skills. Before “Jackass,” Steve-O was working as a clown in a Florida flea market, for crying out loud.
One hopes that they saved their money. Even if one or two of them continues to work in the entertainment industry, most of them will probably be out of luck after this.