The Jackass 3-D crew has been joking with mock pretension that their brand of frat-boy prankery and stunt-making is the reason 3-D was invented, but that's actually pretty close to the truth. The gimmick is most worthwhile when it's being used to make us say "Cool!" because things are coming at us -- when it's being treated as a gimmick, in other words. If it's entertaining to see a giant slingshot used to launch a medicine ball at someone, it stands to reason that it will be even more entertaining in three dimensions.
And so here is Jackass 3-D, in which Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, and the usual gang of idiots devise new and frequently hilarious ways to hurt themselves. After 25 episodes of the MTV series, plus Jackass: The Movie and Jackass Number Two, it's impressive that they're still able to come up with so many creative ideas. Playing tetherball with a ball full of bees, for example. I wouldn't want to try it, but I'd be proud if I were the one who thought of it.
It's all about the presentation, you know. You could just put a guy behind a jet plane and let him be blasted by the force of the engine. But it's much more aesthetically pleasing if instead you re-create the famous Memorex commercial where the man is blown away by his stereo speakers.
Many of the stunts' appeal stems from our fascination with the laws of physics, and in that regard this is no different from legitimate programs you see on the Discovery Channel. This is where the 3-D comes in handy. A simple punch in the face, shown in slow-motion and 3-D, provides a nifty demonstration of actions, equal and opposite reactions, and all that other Newtonian stuff.
Or you can just tie a guy's wiener to a remote-control toy helicopter. Or have a gentleman with excellent control of his flatulence use it to "blow" into a party horn. Or have a blindfolded guy play pin the tail on the donkey with a real donkey. These are all excellent things that you can do.
Some horrible things involving poop happen in this film. You should know that up front. There's one with some bungee cords and a porta-potty and Steve-O and ... ugh. Sometimes things get so gross that the guys start puking. One of the crew's cameramen is particularly susceptible to nausea, which is sort of like a doctor who faints at the sight of blood.
Look, I know there's no reason for this to be a movie. It isn't a movie, not really, not in the usual sense. It's gleefully immature. It revels in destruction. And it made me laugh a lot, like it always does.
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Eric D. Snider (website) has certain jackass tendencies himself.