Review: ‘Jackass Forever:’ the older the better

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Ryan Hardison

“Jackass Forever” is a fun continuation of the Jackass crew’s history with bravely stupid stunts, showing that their old age is no obstacle for their careers.

by Owen Pratt, Contributor

After 21 years of broken bones, concussions and endless nut shots, Johnny Knoxville and his middle-aged crew have reunited once again to torture each other with “Jackass Forever.”  

First airing as a TV show on MTV in 2000, the deadly, gross-out stunts of “Jackass” shocked audiences, pushing the boundaries of comedy and censorship. The original crew included Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Dave England, Bam Margera and Ryan Dunn. Their sense of humor, reckless personalities, and comradery struck a chord with fans, making the show an instant hit, spawning multiple movies and spinoff series. 

“Jackass Forever” manages to feel both familiar and fresh. Seeing the group with gray hair, subtle wrinkles, and “dad bods” roll over in pain and laughter adds a new layer of comedy. Despite their age, the guys can still take a beating. Experiencing them on screen together, erupting in laughter at each other’s expense feels like nothing’s changed. 

On top of that, “Forever” introduces some new blood with Zach Holmes, Poopies, Jasper Dolphin, his dad Darkshark, Rachel Wolfson, Eric Manaka and a cycle of guest stars teaming up with the original crew. The new members fit in quite well with the older guys, with everyone bouncing off one another quite well, figuratively and literally. Some members had little screen time, but most people had ample time in the spotlight. Danger Ehren, Steve-O, Jasper and Chris stood out the most.

The stunts in this film are very creative and unique. The ways the crew hurt themselves in “Jackass Forever” still manage to feel fresh after over two decades of stunt-filled mayhem. Unlike the series’ guerilla-type filmmaking, “Forever” has a pretty impressive production value. There were many clever shots throughout the film, ranging from slow-motion hits to the groin to well-choreographed stunts. Series director Jeff Tremaine does a great job at capturing their suffering. The only issue with the film’s direction came towards the end of the film. Despite the final stunt being traditionally bombastic, it ended up a little lackluster compared to the other series endings.

Like the show’s premise, the issues behind the scenes were equally chaotic. Network conflicts, attacks from the press, legal trouble, drug addiction and other issues followed the franchise through all 21 years.

The most tragic occurrence was the death of former Jackass member Ryan Dunn on June 20, 2011. After a night of drinking at a bar, Dunn got behind the wheel drunk and crashed into a tree, killing him and Jackass producer Zachary Hartwell. Without getting too specific, stick around for the film’s credits. 

Before “Jackass Forever”’s release, news broke that longtime member Bam Margera was fired during production. Margera has struggled with drug addiction since his early twenties, with part of his contract requiring him to stay sober, take regular drug tests and see a psychologist. After violating his contract, Margera was fired amid filming. Jackass director Jeff Tremaine filed a restraining order on the former star for threatening him and his family. Since then Margera has thrown lawsuits at Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville, Spike Jonze and others. Oddly enough, he is seen in one stunt in “Jackass Forever,” though his presence is shadowed by other participants.

Though it’s been 21 years since the group’s inception, “Jackass Forever” still knocks it out of the park. The creative stunts, the group dynamic, and the cinematography make this film work. Everyone in my theater was in stitches throughout. If this is the final film we get, then it’s a great send-off.