Seeing the Jackass gang ten years after their MTV show hit the airwaves, it’s impossible not to notice that we’re no longer looking at fresh-faced boys. Though surely everyone in the gang – Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Ryan Dunn, Wee Man, Preston Lacy, Dave England and “Danger” Ehren Mcghehy – took their spills and hits before the show, and ten years on Indiana Jones was never more right: It’s not the years, it’s the mileage. For the first time for many of them, in Jackass 3-D they’re also doing these pranks and stunts sober, which must compound the pain of their idiotic (often heroically so) stunts. Hell, you probably have to be some form of intoxicated to think it would be fun to dress up like Santa Claus and climb a tree right before it gets cut down. For Jackass 3-D – in what may be the final go-around for these guys (at least if they hope to be walking for the rest of their lives) – the group do hilariously terrible things to each other and themselves. My review of the Blu-ray of Jackass 3-D follows after the jump.
We’re now three films deep into the Jackass oeuvre (trilogy?), and what became apparent after the second film is that all these films are balancing acts for director Jeff Tremaine. The first film started well, and ended gangbusters with an x-ray revealing sexual proclivities unimaginable. But in the middle of the film there were a number of great bits and gags, and you need to have a well modulated tone putting the extreme next to the absurd. The second film showed how precarious that balance is as it went a little too far in one direction (stunts). Yes, some of the bits (especially the ones featuring Preston Lacy and Wee Man) have a tendencies to go – what the group has called – a little Allen Funt-y in their Candid Camera-esque pranking. But the second film felt unduly harsh. Though many of these stunts could kill their practitioners, the films are meant to be enjoyable not just for being nearly a snuff film. It’s the next level/cherry on top stuff that makes the dangerous stunts the most entertaining, and make me laugh the hardest.
For instance – in one of the best segments in the third movie – Knoxville lets a bull charge him, but while he’s painted to match the background of the wall behind him. Of course this offers no distraction for the bull, which adds to the idiocy of what he’s doing, but damn if he doesn’t look ridiculous while doing it. And then there’s the joy that comes from watching a ram charge Ryan Dunn and Steve-O, because the ram seems to enjoy the chance to just wreck the boys. Their playing band instruments, for whatever reason.
The gimmick for the film was that it was to be shot in 3-D, and though some segment seem to have 3-D elements – like a game of tetherball played with a bee’s nest – but the 3-D effects are marginal. The best 3-D stuff in the film was shot with the Phantom high speed camera that often shows the flesh reacting before the body. There’s a lot of scatological humor, but the genius of having a great farter use his gas to power a dart blower to pop a balloon sticking out of Steve-O’s butt is undeniable – if that’s your sort of thing. And the guys bring their A game here – the time off seemed to do them good. Of course we’ll shortly see the outtakes collected into a 3.5 film, much like the second film had a 2.5 version as well (if Jackass 2 was a little too stunt-heavy, 2.5 was a little too overtly sexualized). But this is an undeniably fun film, and even repeat viewings don’t’ deaden most of the laughs. If this is the last film of Jackass stuff from this group, they’ve gone out on top.
Paramount’s Blu-ray edition is complicated. The film was shot in 3-D, but the Blu-ray does not include the 3-D version. What is included with the Blu-ray is a standard def copy of the film in 3-D, with four 3-D glasses (glad that they included more than the normal two, as the film is more fun with people). The 3-D SD version doesn’t have as great depth of field as the theatrical version, but I was impressed that the colors (once your eyes settle into the glasses) don’t become absolute gargbage (you can see all the colors on the rainbow) and the 3-D is reasonably effective. For those who’ve invested in 3-D televisions, this has to be disappointing, so… sorry. The film itself looks great in 2-D on the Blu-ray as it was all shot digitally, and the picture quality – even on some of the most dangerous and stupid stunts – looks excellent. It really speaks to how our culture has assimilated and miniaturized our technological advances. The soundtrack is in 5.1 DTS-HD master audio, but the surround track really only benefits the music. But picture and audio quality is top notch.
The Blu-ray presents the film in both a theatrical cut, and unrated cut. The theatrical cut runs 94 minutes, and the unrated version runs 100 minutes, so there’s an additional five minutes and forty-four seconds of footage. Though there’s an additional chapter for Rick Kosick getting Rocky’d, the rest of the additional footage seems to be trims, as I couldn’t notice any major changes between the two cuts, only minor ones. There may be additional footage of the gang’s wieners and such, but since the differences are so marginal, there’s no great reason to watch the extended cut, other than it’s a little bit longer.
Unfortunately no one recorded a commentary this way around – which was one of the highlights of the first film – and sadly, Paramount did not package this film with the previous two (and a half) entries for Blu-ray fans of the franchise. There is a nice making of (29 min.) about the genesis of the film, and the stupidity of the stunts, and how it did feel like a reunion, etc. There’s also eleven deleted scenes (16 min.), many of which are continuations of bits already in the movie (more people given the “Rocky” treatment, more exploding port-o-potties), and outtakes (28 min.). Even if they’re making another film out of the leftovers, that’s a lot of bonus footage. The film’s theatrical trailer is also included.