In the wake of James Cameron's mega-blockbuster Avatar, all of the studios have been trying to get into the 3D game. Some are going out of their way to produce material that makes sense for the format. Others ran regular 2D movies through the post-conversion ringer, releasing product that sucked the momentum right out of the trend (here's mud in your eye, WB). As more and more movies come out in three dimensions, one thing has become clear: 3D works best when it's big, silly, and in your face. Sure, all these filmmakers could take ten years and spend millions of their own money working on a project designed to push 3D forward in new ways, but why bother when clearly the medium works best when it's showing T&A, horrible violence, or, in the case of Jackass 3D, pure nonsense.
I remember when Jackass first hit the airwaves. I was 16 and thought that the title couldn't have been more apt. Who wanted to see a bunch of idiots hurt themselves over and over and over? I completely dismissed it, even as it became a sensation. I was even more disgusted when they managed to release a movie. The only thing worse than watching things that would make you puke are seeing those things blown up onto a giant screen. But after the second film, so many of my friends recommended it to me that I couldn't say no any longer. I caved and rented the two movies, and was shocked that by the end I not only enjoyed them both, but really liked that crazy group of guys who were doing these awful things to themselves and each other.
By the time Jackass 3D was announced, I was genuinely excited. If there would be anything greater than the last two movies, it would be seeing these guys go through their crazy antics in three dimensions. It would be everything James Cameron didn't want the format to be, and I couldn't wait to see it. And the group does not disappoint. Jackass 3D is full of dildos and explosions and men covered in feces and everything else you'd expect. And yes, it is in glorious 3D.
The film opens with a short bit about putting on your 3D glasses featuring two characters from the MTV stable that is worth the price of admission alone. After that and the required warning, the film begins in earnest, immediately taking advantage of the 3D in a huge slow motion opening sequence that perfectly sets the stage for what's to come next. And anyone who purposefully buys a ticket to a Jackass movie knows what's coming. After the TV show and two previous movies, however, the well has begun to look a little dry. That's not to say that Jackass 3D is boring or uninteresting. Far from it. But some of the gags start to feel like we've seen them before, and out of all the movies, this is the one that has actually made me close to puking.
But it was nice to see the group back on the big screen again. There's something genuine about Knoxville and crew that makes them supremely likable. They really seem to be having fun, for one thing, and there's this idea that no one is safe. Knoxville gets hit just as hard (or harder) than the rest of the gang, and the fact that everyone comes out laughing at the end makes it feel safe for us to laugh at as well. Still, a clip from the end of the film showing an x-ray with a broken bone reminds us that at times the fun and games can go horribly wrong.
In the end, there isn't too much one can say about a movie like Jackass 3D. There's no plot, no scripted dialogue, no social message to critique. It's just a group of guys willingly going through the grinder for our amusement, and doing it with smiles on their faces. It's telling that often the funniest bits are not the gags themselves, but the comments the group makes after the fact. These are genuinely entertaining people debasing themselves for our pleasure, and it works. Not quite as well as the last two outings, perhaps, but with the added gimmick of 3D, this isn't one worth skipping in the theater. I'm sure it would vex Cameron to no end to discover that the two most entertaining 3D films of this new wave of 3D filmmaking (Piranha 3D and this) both feature full frontal male nudity.