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‘Jackass Forever’ Review

I haven’t laughed this hard in a theater in years.
February 4, 2022
‘Jackass Forever’ Review

The key line in Jackass Forever—as much as “dialogue” can really matter in a movie like Jackass Forever—comes near the end of the picture.

Wee Man (real name: Jason Acuña) is staked to the ground and has had bits of meat strewn across his underwear in an effort to entice a massive vulture to come and peck at the tender flesh around his genitals. As the bird does its thing, drawing blood every once in a while as it snags the food, Mr. Man is spasmodically jerking, as one does when a giant carnivorous avian’s ugly beak jabs your junk.

“Don’t kick the bird,” someone shouts offscreen, to which Mr. Man snaps, “I didn’t kick the bird.” He sounds annoyed, but not because his family jewels are at risk of being ruptured. The tone is more like “of course I didn’t kick the bird, the bird hasn’t done anything wrong, the bird didn’t ask to be here, he’s a civilian.” Because the real joy of Jackass Forever and its predecessors comes from the knowledge that the participants are there willingly, that they’re just dudes being dudes and doing things dudes find funny—to each other, sure, but also themselves.

This is why the weakest parts of the show and preceding movies involved pranks on outsiders. There are a few such segments in Forever—a lady who tries to help Johnny Knoxville down from a cherry picker near a powerline but keeps making his predicament worse; employees in a furniture store shocked when someone goes hurtling through a ceiling—but they are limited, perhaps in part due to COVID-era restrictions. (There is something deeply, subversively funny about seeing cameramen and directors offstage wearing masks to protect themselves while the guys on camera are, you know, putting themselves in front of charging bulls or going down a massive slip-n-slide that dead ends into dirt and rocks.)

Prank shows are always at least a little meanspirited; even when the guys are hurting themselves for our amusement, the comedy from such segments comes from the terror on the faces of the passersby who watch in helpless horror as our heroes are, potentially, seriously injured. That’s not nearly as funny as watching Knoxville and his merry band of idiots traumatize each other’s testicles.

And, look, let’s just be honest for a minute: There’s really nothing funnier than watching a man get hit in the nuts and collapse on the ground in agony. Oh, there are other things that are nearly as funny, like three men giving themselves wedgies via a complicated pulley system, or seeing Eric André get unexpectedly hit in the face by an airbag while he’s visiting the craft services truck, or watching via night vision as a man in a pitch-black room unexpectedly walks face-first into a cast iron skillet. Watching people hurt themselves in a non-meanspirited sort of way is one of the few pure joys in this sad, degraded world of ours.

But nothing, nothing at all, is funnier than watching guys get battered in the babymaker, at least judging by the involuntary gusts of laughter that escaped my body while watching this in a sparsely attended press screening. (Truly one of the few times I’d ever wished for a packed promo screening instead.) The cup-test sequence alone is worth the price of admission, and if it doesn’t leave you giggling like a schoolboy, well, congratulations on being the king of England, your majesty. Enjoy your tea and crumpets.

A few things worth noting before you hit purchase on that Fandango order. There’s less scatological humor than I remember from previous installments, so if that sort of thing isn’t your bag you’ll feel more comfortable here. And there’s a ton of full-frontal male nudity, so if that sort of thing isn’t your bag you’ll feel very uncomfortable here.

Jackass Forever is the defining “dudes rock” movie, just a bunch of guys (and the very occasional gal) hanging out and doing dumb stuff together, constantly cracking each other up in the process. I can understand if that’s not your thing. But I can also pity you for your inadequacy.

Sonny Bunch

Sonny Bunch is the Culture Editor of The Bulwark. Before serving as editor-in-chief of the film site Rebeller, he was the executive editor of and film critic for The Washington Free Beacon. He is currently a contributor to The Washington Post and his work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Commentary Magazine, The Weekly Standard, and elsewhere. He is a member of the Washington Area Film Critics Association