The first feature spun from MTV’s notorious “Jackass” was described in these pages as “quite possibly the most exuberantly distasteful hodgepodge of beery anarchy and death-wishing irresponsibility ever unleashed by a major Hollywood distrib.” But when it comes to plumbing new depths of ingeniously egregious gross-out humor, “jackass the movie” was an under-achiever compared to its inevitable sequel, the ever-so-aptly titled “jackass number two.” This stunningly shameless follow-up to the 2002 theatrical sleeper (and homevid mega-seller) offers more of the same — a lot more — while repeatedly upping the ante in terms of offensiveness. Which, of course, should greatly — and profitably — please is target aud.
Much like its predecessor, “jackass number two” has been cobbled together with brazen haphazardness. Again, the filmmakers haven’t even bothered to provide capital letters or a colon for its title.
Nothing more than a series of skits, some of which barely qualify as blackouts, pic showcases hearty-partying Johnny Knoxville and his equally uninhibited cohorts (Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Steve-O, Dave England, Ryan Dunn, Wee Man, Preston Lacy, Ehren McGhehey) as they do terrible things to each other, and themselves, while exhibiting varying degrees of sadism, masochism, exhibitionism and (apparently) inebriation.
In a typical bit, the wild boys place one of their fellows atop a familiar carnival attraction — a mallet-driven strength tester — and use the contraption to drive a huge dildo up the guy’s anus. (Homoeroticism isn’t so much a subtext as a running gag through the entire pic.) Later, the happy-go-lucky Steve-O places a large fishing hook through his cheek, then allows himself to be used as human bait in shark-infested waters.
Projectile vomiting figures prominently during other episodes, and the camera never turns away, not even when one Jackass washes down some horse manure with a gulp of beer. Indeed, it remains firmly affixed on the effluence, as auds are left to ponder various meanings of the term “gag.”
And speaking of horses, more barfing ensues after a lusty stallion is rudely interrupted during a mating attempt.
Repeatedly, the “Jackass” boys risk permanent injury — or, at the very least, total humiliation — as they collide with metal doors, ski down staircases, attach leeches to their eyeballs, barely avoid being gored by angry bulls, and allow themselves to be pelted with a explosion-propelled fusillade of hard rubber balls. (At one point, a member of the gang semi-seriously wails: “Please, God, don’t let there be a ‘Jackass 3.'”)
And when they run out of things to do to themselves, they bring in guest stars like filmmakers John Waters and Spike Jonze to ratchet up the brutal tomfoolery.
If you’re in a suitably debauched frame of mind — and, perhaps more important, if you refrain from dining for several hours beforehand — “jackass number two” could very well make you laugh until you’re thoroughly ashamed of yourself. Or not. Much like some of the delicacies savored on screen, pic is very much an acquired taste.
To call the humor sophomoric would be to overstate its sophistication. Call it infantile, and you’ll be much closer to the mark. But it’s hard to deny that many of the more outrageous bits have an exhilaratingly potent, shock-you-into-guffawing impact. And while a few stretches do feel wearyingly repetitious, you never have to wait too long before another eruption of “I can’t believe they did that!'” lunacy.
Put it another way: If you enjoyed “jackass the movie” — and you know who you are — “jackass number two” will qualify as another guilty pleasure you won’t want to discuss in polite company.
It’s worth noting, by the way, that while much of the first “jackass” pic was shot in messy, muddy digital video, the sequel boasts production values that border on adequacy.