|Jackass the Movie (Special Collector's Edition)|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 25 March 2003|
After receiving much heat from the public, who felt the show was a dangerous influence on children and young adults, MTV pulled the plug on the highly successful and controversial show “Jackass.” For those of you not familiar with “Jackass,” it was a half-hour collage of stunts, pranks and general mayhem filmed by a group of twenty- and thirtysomethings.
“Do Not Attempt This at Home” warnings were plastered all over the show, but still there were several youths who were injured and one who was killed doing stunts that many critics believe were inspired by things that the kids had seen on “Jackass.” With the show off of MTV, the “Jackass” crew needed a new venue to display their talents. The movie theaters of America provided them that opportunity and allowed even more freedom to get raunchier, filthier and more crazy with their gags and stunts. With an R rating and a huge promotional push from MTV and Paramount, “Jackass,” to the delight of fans and the dismay of right-wing religious groups, became the #1 box office hit in late October of 2002.
From the moment I heard about the “Jackass” movie, I knew that this film was going to be better suited for DVD than the big screen. How did I know this in advance? When bringing this movie to theaters, everyone involved with the film knew that they had to keep it short and sweet. The gross-out and shock factor was sure to be high and if the “Jackass” movie had a total running time over 90 minutes (it came it at a tidy 84 minutes), it would have been just too much for moviegoers who were dragged in to see it with their gung-ho “Jackass” fan friends. With this type of film, it’s obvious that there must have been countless hours of footage that were left out. Now, with the DVD release of “Jackass,” we get a chance to see some of the segments that were cut out either because they were too intense, too gross, too offensive or just not funny enough for the film.
The film begins and ends with two big Hollywood-type productions, the first being a danger-filled segment where the “Jackass” gang is careening down a hill in downtown Los Angeles in an oversize shopping cart. Filmed beautifully with 35 millimeter traditional movie cameras, slow motion shots of huge blasts of rocks and dust are seen, bombarding the Jackassers as they fly down the hill towards an untimely spill at the end of the road. We later find out in the commentary that this big budget opening shot was done to trick the audience into thinking that Johnny Knoxville and crew had “sold out” and that “Jackass The Movie” was going to be a typical Hollywood film with high production values and a bad plot. Fortunately for “Jackass” fans, there is actually NO plot to get in the way of the wacky pranks that are to follow.
The first skit of the film is titled “rent-a-car crash up.” In this scene, Knoxville and crew, with several hidden cameras, including one in his sunglasses, acquires a car from a small car rental shop and opts to not purchase insurance that covers the car against any accidental damage. We then cut to Johnny at a body shop where mechanics get the car ready for, yes, you guessed it, a car crash derby. With two naked female blow-up love dolls in the back seat, Knoxville begins bashing the hell out of the car from every possible angle. It gets really funny when Knoxville returns the car to the rental shop. It’s an awkward situation that Knoxville handles with his easy comedic wit and timing. This is not staged in any way and the looks on the faces of the employees when they see the car are priceless. Of course what we don’t see is the check that was cut to the rental car shop after the fact. It’s fun to pretend this isn’t a movie.
Over the next 70-plus minutes, the “Jackass” gang fights a championship female kick boxer, roller discos in the back of a moving truck, pole vaults into raw sewage, obliterates golf carts, give themselves paper cuts on the webs of their fingers, toes and mouths, and this is just a fraction of the stuff that you’ll see on the DVD. To tell you more would ruin the movie for you, but if any of the above acts intrigue you at all, you are going to want to see this film. It’s kind of like watching a train wreck. The results are usually horrible, but you can’t help but turn your head to look at it.
The only flaw in the entire movie was the misguided attempt to make a big-budget Hollywood-type ending. The intro with the shopping cart worked well and didn’t feel forced, but the same can’t be said for the film’s finale. In the world of bloated movie budgets, the concept of a film made on such a shoestring budget, shot mostly with hand-held video cameras didn’t stand much of a chance of being a big hit film. “The Blair Witch Project” doesn’t come along too often, but “Jackass” is probably the most successful low-budget movie since those crazy film students disappeared into the forest outside of Baltimore. Dressing up the “Jackass” crew with gobs and gobs of makeup and prosthetic face pieces to make them look like old men, then having them walk through an old refinery as everything around them explodes was just about the lamest way to end a very funny and spontaneous-feeling movie. We learn in the commentary with director Jeff Tremaine and co-creator Knoxville that not all of the segments are quite as off the cuff as one might guess, but “Jackass” really fizzles out at the end when special effects and pyrotechnics that aren’t fire crackers in Steve-O’s butt cheeks are involved. Paramount reportedly spent almost as much on the ending of this film than they did on the entire rest of the movie. If you ask me, they could have saved it and invested it on the budget for the sequel if one is ever going to be made.
So what was the original ending of the movie supposed to be? We get to find out through the magic of supplemental material. Included in the vast array of bonus features on the DVD is the “failed ending” that was originally planned
for the movie, involving a series of “Jackass” stunts that segue into each other in a domino effect, using virtually the entire cast and finishing up with a truly bizarre cameo. The planning and execution of this ending extravaganza must have taken hundreds, if not thousands, of man hours, yet when it came time to film the event, things didn’t go as planned. Apparently even creative editing couldn’t have salvaged the segment, so it hit the cutting room floor and was replaced with the big-budget finale.
As one might guess, the picture quality is certainly better than your old skateboard videos you might have made with your friends as a kid, but they weren’t setting too many Panavision cameras and burning through millions of dollars worth of 35-millimeter film and processing. If the entire film had been “Hollywood-ized” with fancy cameras, perfect lighting and other typical movie production elements, the movie would have been a boring waste of time. However, they did keep almost 100 percent of the TV version’s pacing and style. The entire movie is essentially an 84-minute version of the TV show with cussing and nudity added in and the commercials removed. Add to that two sets of hilarious commentary and a solid 27 minutes of additional footage, cameos by Tony Hawk, producer and co-creator Spike Jonze and Henry Rollins, as well as the MTV “Making of Jackass The Movie,” and you’ve got a little slice of “Jackass” heaven. If you like “Jackass,” you’ve got to pick this disc up