jackass forever (CREDIT: Paramount Pictures and MTV Entertainment Studios)

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, Chris Pontius, Dave England, Danger Ehren, Preston Lacy, Sean “Poopies” McInerney, Jasper Dolphin, Zach Holmes, Rachel Wolfson, Eric Manaka, Compston “Darkshark” Wilson

Director: Jeff Tremaine

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Rating: R for Ill-Advised Stunts That Frequently Involve Bodily Fluids and Result in All Sorts of Injuries

Release Date: February 4, 2022 (Theaters)

I’m tempted to say that the Jackass movies are like a descent into hell, but that actually couldn’t be further from the truth, paradoxically enough. Despite being filled with sadistic and masochistic mayhem, they’re joyous documents about best buds who are so grateful that they’re still able to spend this much time together doing what they love. A better description is to call these flicks endurance tests. Not so much for the performers, who presumably have rest and recovery periods built into their schedules, but for the audience, who must experience this gauntlet in a compressed hour-and-a-half go-round. I never watched the original MTV series, but that’s okay, because I believe that feature-length is actually the ideal format. There may be minimal narrative connective tissue, but it’s truly transportative to spend that much uninterrupted time in a space where all the rules of good taste and common sense have been annihilated.

The other great appeal of a new Jackass outing in 2022 is the opportunity to check in on everybody. It’s been more than two decades since the show premiered, and more than ten years since the last movie (unless you count the more story-driven Bad Grandpa). Most of the dialogue in Jackass Forever consists of Johnny Knoxville and his cohorts expressing wonderment and disbelief that they’re still alive and still doing “the same stupid shit.” (That is, when they’re not screaming in wit-and-expletive-filled agony.) At this point, this is perhaps the longest-running experiment to see how much physical and psychological torture human beings can endure. And the conclusion should be: a whole hell of a lot, but it helps a great deal if there’s an understanding that everybody is on the same team and same page as each other. It’s not for nothing that one intense moment includes a sudden shouting of consent-granting.

Jackass Forever is also an opportunity for the fanbase to take stock of how they themselves have grown and matured (or not) over the years. For me personally, I remain generally pretty good about convincing my brain and body that they can handle the most extreme action, though I can become easily overwhelmed by the most scatological discursion. However, I did discover one striking difference in my fortitude. 2006’s Jackass Number Two was my first exposure to the franchise, back when I was an 18-year-old college freshman. A notorious scene in that entry involving horse semen had me gagging, but a very similar episode in Forever was perfectly bearable. I guess that says something about what I’ve been exposed to during my adult years. I hope and imagine that most viewers of Jackass Forever will also learn something new about themselves.

jackass forever is Recommended If You Like: The X Games, Un Chien Andalou, The bonhomie of the Fast and Furious franchise

Grade: 4 out of 5 Bruises