Ian Thomas Malone

jackass Archive



February 2022



Jackass Forever has a lot to teach film franchises about growing up

Written by , Posted in Blog, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

Nostalgia wields more capital in entertainment than ever before. Remakes, reboots, and sequels are concepts that have been around for many decades in Hollywood, but the demands of the content mill hoisted up by the streaming industrial complex force additional burdens on what has always been a fairly risk-averse industry. The question of necessity is irrelevant. Jackass is inevitable.

The beauty of Johnny Knoxville’s world is the way he’s fostered a sense of genuine community within his irreverent band of merry pranksters. More than twenty years have passed since the original Jackass TV series ignited a right-wing culture storm against MTV. Most of the cast wear their age on their faces, except maybe Steve-O, who looks better than ever as he approaches fifty. Jackass has always been more than just the pranks, giving their audience reasons to invest in these characters as people.

Director Jeff Tremaine pulls off an incredible feat in Jackass Forever, a production clearly severely restrained by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are no party boy scenes through crowded Tokyo streets, or elaborate stunts designed to bewilder hordes of unsuspecting civilians. Almost all the pranks take place on closed sets, but the production never feels constrained, not when the cast and crew take such joy in every minute of the film’s 96-minute runtime.

The original nine cast members are down two, following the 2011 death of Ryan Dunn and the more recent dismissal of Bam Margera, who makes a brief appearance in the film. Newcomers Jasper Dolphin, Sean “Poopies” McInerney, Zach Holmes, Rachel Wolfson, and Eric Manaka blend in perfectly with the chemistry of the original crew. The narrative isn’t too concerned with passing the baton, not when Knoxville and Tremaine take such pleasure in torturing Ehren McGhehey, Dave England, and Jason “Wee Man” Acuña through more than a few stunts you’d think would have been pawned off on the rookies.

Jackass Forever harnesses the spirit of the franchise with its eyes set squarely on the present. More than a few major franchises should take note of the way Tremaine and Knoxville navigate their own lore. Chris Pontius at one point notes that the older guys have paid their dues, but all frat houses need to put on a show to get people to come to the party. The Jackass crew keep innovating, refusing to rest on the laurels of nostalgia they’ve crafted over the past twenty years.

There’s a certain beauty in the way that Jackass blends the old with the new. You can theoretically put just about anyone up on a chair to get punched in the nuts by MMA legend Francis Ngannou, but the laughs hit harder from a place of comradery. It might feel a little weird to think of the Jackass crew as a family, but that’s the spirit of the home that Dickhouse Productions built. It feels good to see these guys again, knowing that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Time is catching up to Knoxville and the crew. The mishaps are a bit harder to watch, knowing the mileage that the performers have put on their bodies. More than a decade removed from Jackass 3D, Tremaine understood the necessity of new faces to help recapture the franchise’s spirit that helped define popular culture in the post-9/11 era. You can play around with nostalgia without being stuck in the past. Jackass Forever proves how much gas this series has left in the tank, even as many of the performers would be wise to cut down on hospital visits at their ages.