TAG24's Take: Jackass Forever proves that it is art – and number one
Los Angeles, California - Jackass Forever was released in theaters everywhere on Friday, and it's quickly proving to be the strongest installment in the series.
With so much going on in the world, it's quite easy to feel as though you are bombarded with negative news and energy on a daily basis. Between a pandemic that doesn't seem to be going anywhere and the vitriol of American politics, it's becoming increasingly harder to maintain sanity.
Enter Jackass Forever: The perfect one hour and 44 minute escape from the doom and gloom we've all grown so accustomed to.
In its first weekend, Jackass Forever successfully made $23.5 million, which by Covid standards, is pretty damn good.
As arguably mindless and basic as the premise of Jackass Forever may be, reviews from critics and viewers have been the best they have ever been for the franchise.
The film currently has a score of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, and even RogerEbert.com managed to dish out a surprising four-star review of the film.
So what is it that sets Jackass Forever apart from the rest of the Jackass films? And why are critics suddenly raving about a series that has typically been shunned and ridiculed from the mainstream?
Jackass Forever won't save America, but it will laugh at it
Nothing says America quite like the phrase, "Hi, I'm Johnny Knoxville. Welcome to Jackass."
So while it's understandable how one critic claimed that Jackass Forever could unite us as a nation, I would argue that they are missing the point.
Since its inception, the style of the Jackass franchise can be summarized best with two words: punk rock.
With only a modest budget of $10 million, Jackass Forever managed to get to number one at the box office this weekend, knocking out more high budget productions like Spider-Man: No Way Home, which cost $200 million to make.
There is nothing more punk rock than creating something out of almost nothing that speaks to people, while being arguably better than creations by more popular names who always have a seat at the cool kids' table.
That attitude is something that has always carried Jackass and made it a mainstay in American culture. The shameless, unforgiving, and seemingly effortless nature of the show and films has spoken to the social rejects and outcasts for its entire 22 years of existence. Now it seems the rest of the world is finally catching on.
The Jackass crew don't care about sitting with the popular kids or saving America, but they do really, really want to make audiences laugh – no matter how sick and depraved they have to get to do so.
Sometimes less is more
A reoccurring theme in many critic reviews is the fact that Jackass Forever seems to have more emotional depth than any of the other Jackass films.
This is true, to a certain extent. The film pays homage to old, memorable stunts without rehashing them in a boring way. And the concept of passing the torch on to a new, younger generation of jackasses is highly prevalent.
But don't expect some long-winded, tear-stained monologue from Johnny Knoxville about him growing older, as if he's trying to win an Oscar. The tugs on the heartstrings are very subtle, and incredibly woven into the movie using not-so-obvious film techniques and visual elements that speak for themselves.
Overall, the in-your-face formula that has made Jackass what it is is absolutely still there, and it's never deviated from. But this time around, director Jeff Tremaine has masterfully created an understated deeper narrative where there wasn't one – and that is just damn good filmmaking.
Jackass Forever is a riot from beginning to end
Jackass Forever will make you leave theaters thinking, "Damn, that was fun!" Something about it makes you feel like you were there, like you are a part of the gang. And there's something warm and fuzzy about hearing other fellow audience members gasp and laugh hysterically along with you.
Jackass has always possessed this charm for me, and I think the accolades it is now receiving are long overdue.
Surely this is not a movie for everyone – the Jackass gang themselves have always said this – but it goes without saying that the crew of troublemakers have continued to build upon something that is original. While Jackass' concept has often been imitated over the years, it has proven to be impossible to duplicate.
The fact that a large corporation like Paramount was willing to sign off on such an absurdly, wild project in the first place is an indication that Knoxville and gang were doing something right. And Jackass Forever certainly proves the point is still worth making.
While its box office figures and critic reviews are impressive, the most successful thing that Jackass Forever achieves is finally proving, once and for all, that Jackass is indeed art.
Cover photo: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire