In my original review of 2002's "Jackass
," I half-jokingly wrote, "If these 80 minutes don't signal the coming of the apocalypse, nothing ever will." Four years later, director Jeff Tremaine and onscreen lunatics Johnny Knoxville (2005's "The Ringer
") and company are back for a sequel that they once claimed would never happen. "Jackass: Number Two" doesn't only live up to its double-entendre of a title by featuring numerous scenes of defecation and turd-eating, but it also holds a distinction of being bigger, grosser and possibly even a little better than its predecessor. If ever a studio film was released in theaters with the power of making audience members puke all over themselves, this is it.
As has always been the case since the days when "Jackass" was but a lowly show on MTV, there is no plot to speak of. In one random skit after the next, the rowdy, drunken, possibly psychotic cast of friends set out to perform the most dangerous, gag-inducing, and/or humiliating stunts they can think of without actually dying. In certain cases, as when they are gored by bulls, bitten by cobras, and catapulted through the air on the back of a rocket, it's by sheer luck that they aren't fatally harmed. Even so, Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, the especially deranged Steve-O, and the rest of the gang laugh and vomit their way to what one hopes were some pricey paychecks.
"Jackass: Number Two" is a freakshow of bad taste, toilet humor and graphic male nudity. With each stunt falling into one of two categoriesthe funny and the sickeningthe movie at the very least keeps the strong-willed viewer's attention. There isn't a second of material that is of any worth beyond the immediate audience reaction it derives, but then, it also never pretends to be anything more than that. Tellingly, the most genuinely funny stuff is the least offensive. In one skit, producer Spike Jonze dresses up as an old lady who is perplexed when her dress gets caught in a car door and is subsequently stripped off of her when the automobile speeds away, uncovering some realistic-looking saggy titties to the shocked passersby. The other standout moment is a trick played upon Bam's long-suffering mother, April, who awakens to discover that her husband has been swapped with a lookalike man in search of some lovin'. In these and a couple other individual moments, the movie garners huge laughs that will have the viewer doubled over.
By the same accord, the film also had me, who is hardly ever squeamish, covering my eyes and peeking out through my fingers on two occasions. A scene where Steve-O plays the part of a fish and sticks a hook through his cheek before jumping into the water with killer sharks is physically painful to watch. Another scene, where he lets a leech attach to his eyeball, is repugnant. The less said about what is done with a container of horse semen, the better off we all shall be. The fact of the matter is, these raunchier parts are rarely ever comedic, the humor draining from the movie as you sit wincing, groaning, and wondering what today's society has come to. What is most sad is that, despite its moral bankruptcy, director Jeff Tremaine has made a somewhat entertaining 90 minutes of nothingness.
"Jackass: Number Two" goes one step further than the original "Jackass
" went in all departments, and is auspicious on that level. Ultimately, though, it's tough to be shocked anymore, and the juvenile pranks and stunts, like the franchise itself, would be best left as a footnote of the dawn of the new millennium. With reality TV generally losing some luster in 2006 and audiences growing ever more tired of the format, "Jackass: Number Two" is a few years too late to hold much relevancy. You might still giggle and gag in all the intended places, but you'll hate yourself for falling for it.