Before seeing Jackass 3D, I only knew the franchise by reputation. I never watched the show or saw the first two movies. I was familiar with the premise: guys torture themselves for our amusement. The intellectual in me (tiny as he may be) always scoffed at the subject. “What a sad commentary on the state of entertainment in post-modern American (cue snobbish laugh)”. But then I remember that I watch Tosh.0 every week and seeing the self-inflected misfortunes of others makes me giggle. With that in mind, I went to see Jackass 3D and got exactly what I expected. While the 3D is only used effectively for about a quarter of the film’s sketches (particularly the first and last sketch), most of the gags are clever and some of the gags will make you gag. But there is no mistaking Jackass 3D, even if this is the first time you’ve stared into their abyss of pain.
Because there’s no plot, you can walk into Jackass 3D and the only thing you’ll be missing is a familiarity with the cast. I’m sure fans have their favorite stuntmen, whether it’s Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Wee Man, or any cast member. I actually wish there had been a plot that came before since I would love to see the kind of avant garde story that sets up random events like having a buffalo trample you or shooting shit skyward.
What surprised me about Jackass (aside from the fact of how much these men must hate their own genitals), is the variety in the sketches. Going in, I was under the impression that Jackass is just about guys beating the shit out of themselves. But there are also pranks, gross-out-gags, and candid-camera antics. That variety keeps the film feeling fresh so that if one sketch isn’t working for you, then you only have to wait a few minutes before moving on to something that you might enjoy more.
The 3D in Jackass 3D is a mixed bag. Some of the film was shot in 3D and other scenes were post-converted. When the 3D works, it’s fantastic, but that’s only about 25% of the time. The rest of the time, you have a blurry, hand-held look that could have easily fit into the past two movies. The 3D feels more like a way to draw back in viewers who may have grown tired of the Jackass shtick and want a reason to come back for thirds.
Jackass 3D is mostly review-proof. The Jackass brand has established itself and you know if this is the kind of humor you’ll enjoy or not. It’s difficult to justify the cost of a 3D ticket, but if you need an excuse to come back for a third time, you won’t feel ripped-off. As for me, I don’t feel much motivation to see the first two films, but if they ever came on late night TV, I’d probably take a ride on the pain train.