When I was very young, my sister and I could spend several hours watching shows like Jackass, Viva La Bam, and Wildboyz over and over again. We could never see ourselves doing those kinds of dangerous stunts, but it was just nice to watch and it was definitely more than merely chuckle-worthy. Over the years, she and I would watch each and every one of the Jackass films, and, in a way, it felt a little bit like you grew up with them (even though they were always older than us). For the release of Jackass Forever, my sister and I went to the movies together to see what our old stunt-loving pals from the television were up to. We had a blast, but it was also a strange reminder of the passing of time.
For one, some of the original members of the cast are absent. Sadly, Ryan Dunn, who appears through archival footage, has passed away, and, for reasons I’m not quite sure of, Bam Margera is also not back in this film. Instead, Johnny Knoxville and co. have brought along several new faces to join the cast. These include, among others, Zach Holmes and Jasper Dolphin, both of whom were born just a year or two before my sister and I were born. It feels a little bit like the Jackass-cast is passing the torch to a new generation, which feels somewhat sad. But it is also true that our middle-aged stunt-loving pals have been through a lot, and, on more than on occasion, I’ll admit that I felt like they were getting too old for this stuff. I was particularly worried for them this time around, since Preston, Knoxville, Steve-O, and co. just look much older and are, seemingly, feeling the effects of the stunts much more than they did before. It made me a little bit sad for them. That they still had to put their bodies through that.
Like I mentioned, it does feel like they are also passing the torch, but not all of the new additions make a lasting impression with Zach Holmes being the most memorable of the bunch. Of the returning veterans, though we see them all in stunts and pranks (and some of them get injured), the film spends a lot of time with ‘Danger Ehren’ whose sequences might be the most memorable of the bunch (the bear! the spider! the heavyweight champion! the softball pitcher!). I wouldn’t say that they are over-reliant on him, but the film gives him a lot of moments to shine.
There are ups and there are downs here. There are different sections meant to make you laugh, cringe, or avert your eyes. It all works, even if it, at some point, feels slightly aimless. And to be honest it really isn’t very cinematic. However, there is an extended hilarious but expectedly immature opening sequence that does Godzilla, or Kaiju-films, like only the Jackass team could do it, and, later, there is a sequence evoking Apocalypse Now, as well as references to the cast’s previous work. But mostly it just feels like one long (and slightly overlong) feature-length episode of the show on the big screen.
I often find that it is difficult to develop a critical language to assess these films especially since they are, to me, not very easy to tell apart (in part because they are ultimately these super-sized episodes with higher-budgeted sequences). For that reason, I’m not going to be giving it a score. But I will recommend it to longtime fans, like my sister and I, who are up for watching some dangerous stunts, fun nostalgia, and who look forward to reminiscing about old times. It is a great nostalgia-fueled theme park ride of a film, with creative stunts, pranks, and gags – and fun references – just don’t expect them to have reinvented themselves.
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.