When the first trailer for Jackass Forever was released, it posed the question: “When was the last time you got together with old friends to laugh your asses off?” Jackass grew from a new wave of angst at the beginning of the 2000s. You can’t blame the culture: we breached a tipping point of hysteria with Y2K, and we were ready to go buck wild. That feeling reigned supreme in Jackass — from television series, to films, to spinoff properties — and it continues with Jackass Forever. From the entertainingly vanguard documentary filmmaking to its jubilant atmosphere, it continues to check all the boxes typical for the franchise while remaining as creative and genuinely funny as it has ever been.
Despite years between projects, the spark never went out. As soon as Jackass Forever opens, we reach peak Jackassary. It’s filled to the brim with penises and more penises, but it never wanes thin on the concept. Instead of leaning on the crutch of nauseating vomit and poop jokes, they keep it tame — except in a few occasions — allowing the film to breathe more smoothly amidst the chaos. The trailer shows us snappier gags like the exploding portapotty or bicycle riding straight into a flat wall, so it loses the whimsy of a sucker punch laugh. It isn’t as frequent since the trailer shows us short intervals of mostly unseen stunts. It creates slight pauses in its momentum, but never enough that the lack of a laugh exceeds 45 seconds.
Jackass Forever stays true to the core concept defined with the second film. The gang implement new pranks, ideas of lunacy, and upgrades on past stunts to tremendous effect. Remember when Chris Raab performed the Bungee Wedgie in the second film? They elevate even such poetic, simple stunts as that. Chaotic stunts are balanced with insightful sketch comedy from the writing team. There is always a core of humanity there.
New additions to the cast more than earn their keep and show fearless resolve. They go with the flow, even as more ribs get broken and penises stung. It’s a pleasure to see the new charges fully embraced by the old cast as they venture through the pain, like with the human ramp or getting shot in the groin by a paintball gun. We’re taken through a series of diverse, fun challenges, the most gleeful of which comes from Jaspar and Zach “Zackass” Holmes, who makes the most out of sliding down a steep hill of sand-dirt.
We feel the shift of maturity. The new film matches the brazen stunts of old with creative new spins on the classic bits. “The Quiet Game” stands out, a sequence where the crew must take abuse and stay perfectly quiet to win. Perfect Jackass bit writing. There’s more of everything. More stunts, more laughs, more nudity, and more entertainment than ever. That all contributes to a perfectly riotous 96-minute runtime.
It all started with MTV. Jackass embodied the ethos of an era; a culture processing pain and angst found just the right counter-cultural conduit. It was a matter of Youth Culture: combining the mindless inanity of reality shows with the punk rock hedonism of punk rock. It remains an enduring formula, as we reflect over multiple phases of this form of expression with a glimmer in our eyes and hope in our hearts.
Jackass Forever makes it easy to reminisce with joy. It remains hugely successful, both as a reminder of our youth and a great unifier, an experience that must be shared with friends. Whereas previous Jackass films had a Juvenile sense of togetherness, the new film has an inclusive familial feel. Like a sweetly twisted family that plays sick pain-inducing games on each other, but all out of love. Even when it makes us look away, Jackass Forever reminds us why we never stopped looking in the first place.