Plot? Youre kidding, right? Okay... nine blokes make each other bleed, vomit, scream, cry and laugh while a camera films them. The end.
What does it say about popular culture when a movie starring five Oscar nominees and based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is royally trounced at the US box office by footage of nine jerk-offs with an irrational fascination with each other’s testicles? We’re not sure, but Jackass: Number Two says it loud and clear.
While Sean Penn was busy honing his Method, Johnny Knoxville and his chums were busy working out which one of them would drink a horse’s semen for 200 bucks. It’s unlikely All The King’s Men’s producers and executives stopped to even consider that the Jackass sequel was the movie to avoid when scheduling their Oscar-bait, but they seriously underestimated the pleasure the American cinema-going audience gets from watching a man shave his balls and stick the hair on his buddy’s face.
Of course, it’s far from fair to compare a politically charged period-piece to a testosterone-charged penis-piece, but there’s little fair about the fickle tastes of film fans. The reason this works is that it does exactly what it says on the canister; there’s no allusion to anything more than cheap laughs. And they’re in plentiful supply.
Some would have considered it reasonable for troupe leader Johnny Knoxville to take more of a back seat this time, after sacrificing himself time and again on the altar of scatological humour in the original film and the popular MTV series. But despite his burgeoning legitimate movie career — including The Dukes Of Hazzard and the forthcoming Killshot — and, no doubt, the plaintive request of his insurance company, he’s front and centre here.
It’s Knoxville who ends up bloodied by anacondas and violently raging bulls; nearly speared to death by a defective rocket; and with a mouthful of something so disgusting it warrants the film’s only on-screen black ‘censored’ bar.
Despite cameos by respected ‘real’ filmmakers like John Waters, Spike Jonze and Luke Wilson, and an elaborately choreographed dance and stunt routine, Jackass: Number Two remains simply dumb fun. Along the way, though, it does manage to be energising, daring and, importantly, true to its roots. “Please don’t let there be a Jackass 3,” Steve-O says as he recovers from a punishing stunt at the film’s end. Moviegoers — and serious moviemakers everywhere — shouldn’t bet on it.
Jackass: Number Two aims low and hits lower, but is as hilarious and uncomfortable an encounter as possible.