Genes for Comedic Genius
by Molly Templeton
Like I said last time I spent two hours watching dudes hit each other in the junk, you either have the (probably recessive) Jackass gene or you don’t. I don’t know what combination of factors causes this: A prankster childhood? The lingering belief that dicks are inherently funny? A willingness to laugh at others’ pain only when it’s self-inflicted? Simple, maybe borderline stupid, curiosity?
Whatever (mis)fortune causes this, I have it. Even in the face of a shit volcano or the sight of Steve-O plucking a shiny red apple from between Preston Lacy’s lower cheeks, biting it, and replacing it, I’m laughing (and maybe gagging a little). Super Mighty Glue-ing each other together; sending themselves through a gauntlet of stun guns and cattle prods; throwing snakes on the ever-put-upon Bam Margera in an attempt to make him cry — these guys are idiots. But they’re just so game for everything. Pretty face/ringleader Johnny Knoxville doesn’t seem quite as willing to risk himself in the service of our laughter as he once was, but his experience with an ass-biting dog does make for one of the less disgusting funny moments in the film. (Years of friendly pranking seem to have taken a toll on Knoxville, who stands with one hand in a protective position even when he’s not involved in a stunt.)
There’s a lot more shit — and as a result, a lot more vomit — in Jackass 3D than I remember in any Jackass-related project since the CKY bit in which Raab Himself ran down the road crapping at full speed (a stunt inspired by George Carlin). The 3D is less gag-focused than you might expect (though one party favor, jutting into the audience’s face, is unforgettable), and there’s not quite as much cleverness behind the skits as there has been in the past. But the more absurd things get, the better. Why put Chris Pontius upside down, his chin sporting a helmet, and let a scorpion sting his face? Because it’s funny. To some of us. To enough of us.
For the record, Jackass Number Two is funnier, and I was wrong three years ago when I only gave it three stars. It’s a four-star gagfest. This one’s just not quite up to par.