The besties review
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It’s been twelve years since the last “official” installment in the Jackass film franchise, and a lot has changed—original cast member Ryan Dunn passed away in 2011, Bam Margera’s long-documented struggle with alcohol abuse led to his unceremonious firing from the production of Jackass Forever last year, and the rest of the show’s classic line-up (namely Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and Wee Man) are pushing 50 years old. Considering all of that baggage, I wouldn’t have been surprised if this crew of seasoned slapstick veterans decided to take it easier on themselves, but that just wouldn’t be in the spirit of Jackass, now would it? Jackass Forever finds Knoxville and co. acting as donkey-brained as ever, and while there’s truly nothing cutting edge about the Jackass formula anymore, fans of the gang’s inane stunts, cheap shots and penis abuse will find there’s plenty here to sink their teeth into with this one.
Probably the most notable change with this iteration of the franchise (other than the fact that everyone is old now) is the lineup of new cast members, all of whom are eager to earn their stripes as true jackasses. Zach “Zackass” Holmes and Sean "Poopies" McInerney stand out as the most promising newbies in terms of dudes-who-will-literally-say-yes-to-anything, while Jasper Dolphin (of Odd Future fame) brings a fun and fresh personality to the crew. The film also introduces the franchise’s first female cast member, comedian Rachel Wolfson, though her appearance in only two major stunts (the mime competition and scorpion botox) left me wanting more from her. Still, I can’t fault Wolfson for her scattered appearances throughout the film, considering half the stunts revolve around hitting, crushing, cinching or stinging a penis.
And there’s one of my big problems with the film in a nutsack– I mean, a nutshell– there are just too many dicks. Perhaps I’m exaggerating for effect, but this legitimately feels like the most penis-forward Jackass movie yet, and not in a good way. A good kick in the groin is funny the first time, but after an hour it’s just excessive.
As a non-Jackass fan, I was holding out hope that this film would buck the trend of the previous iterations and offer up something a bit more meaningful than a bunch of dopey stunts. I think Jackass Forever had the opportunity to serve as a nostalgic changing of the guard, reflecting on the group’s decades of friendship while also ushering in the next generation of Jackass cast members. Unfortunately, only the latter comes to fruition, as Jackass Forever seems to care more about welcoming its fresh blood than saluting its veteran cast members. Knoxville, Steve-O and Danger Ehren get to take part in the biggest and most memorable stunts, while Wee Man, Chris Pontius, Dave England and Preston Lacy feel somewhat side-lined in favor of newcomers like Zach, Poopies and Jasper.
Ultimately, I think the cast’s typical antics will be amusing enough for fans of the franchise, but anyone expecting (or hoping for) a more nuanced exploration into the group’s dynamic, how they’ve changed over the past ten years or if their NSFW-style of comedy even has a place in our present cultural climate will be rightfully disappointed. The title “Jackass Forever” proudly points toward the group’s future, but the fourth entry in this franchise feels too content with replicating the past. ★★½
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