It’s weird to say Jackass is a comedy institution, but in the 20+ years since it crashed through our TV screens, it’s absolutely earned the moniker. The franchise has spawned 3 movies (technically 6 if you count Bad Grandpa and the .5 compilations), various spin-offs, a video game, and is arguably the blueprint for entire subgenres of online videos. 12 years after the last major flick, Jackass 3D, the crew has reunited for a new film that thankfully maintains the high quality of low-brow humour.
If you’ve ever seen 5 minutes of Jackass, you know exactly what you’re in for: a series of segments wherein Johnny Knoxville and his crew put themselves through elaborate stunts and pranks either painful or disgusting (sometimes both), all for the sake of laughs. It’s a formula that works and Jackass Forever wisely does not deviate from it.
Despite the average age of the crew being at or above 50, they’re still game to do some of the most insane stuff I’ve ever seen on screen. For the crew of Jackass Forever, knowing that at their older age, they can’t do everything, they’ve hired a new set of members to join in the chaos. The new additions (which include comedian Rachel Wolfson, Odd Future alumni Jasper and a stuntman nicknamed Poopies) immediately mesh well with the original crew, as well as add some much-appreciated diversity to the lineup. When they talk about how excited they are about being in the franchise many of them grew up with, you feel that excitement. If the Jackass franchise were to continue without Knoxville and co., it would still definitely be in good hands with these new members.
That being said, if there was an MVP award, Ehren McGhehey deserves it in spades. Ehren has long been the recipient of some of the more gruelling pranks in the franchise over the years, but this time around, he gets put through an absolute ringer. One of his stunts in Jackass Forever involves him testing the endurance of a cup by getting hit in the groin from a variety of athletes, including PK Subban and UFC champ Francis Ngannou. It’s an updated version of a bit from the original series, and it goes about as well as you’d expect.
“One of his stunts in Jackass Forever involves him testing the endurance of a cup by getting hit in the groin from a variety of athletes including PK Subban and UFC champ Francis Ngannou.”
The stunts run the gamut from exploding portapotties and human ramps, to airbag musical chairs and jumping in a bed of cacti. However, my overall personal favourite bit (and one destined to be an immediate top-tier in fans’ rankings) from Jackass Forever would have to be one called “Silence of the Lambs”, a prank (which I won’t give away) that’s ingenious in how primarily psychological it is, while still remaining silly as hell.
The main surprising takeaway is how genuinely wholesome the whole affair is. Despite constantly putting each other through hell, they always support each other with laughs, handshakes, and hugs at the end of each bit. It’s probably the element that’s kept the series as such a beloved staple above imitators: Deep down under the chaos, these friends all genuinely love each other. The pranks are over-the-top, but never feel mean-spirited.
While there is a guaranteed cloud in the wake of both Bam Margera’s firing early during filming (he briefly appears in one stunt they filmed prior) and the tragic passing of Ryan Dunn a decade ago, there’s an overwhelming sense of joy that the crew, both new and old, are just happy to be there. Dunn even gets a beautiful dedication near the tail end of the credits montage.
Jackass Forever really is a testament to the enduring power of both friendship and innovative stupidity. Watching this film felt like reconnecting with friends you haven’t seen in a long time in the best way. I spent nearly every minute either laughing until I fell off my chair or audibly going “Oh NO” every 5 minutes. It’s a hilarious gem of a movie-going experience that I truly missed in this day and age. If there is an age where seeing these guys getting hit in the nuts stops being funny, I hope I never reach it.