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Jackass: The Movie: Special Collector's Edition

Few pop cultural phenomena have inspired more intensely belabored, highbrow breast-beating than Jackass. The latest in a series of escalating tasteless entertainments allegedly signaling the Downfall of Western Civilization (following the likes of Beavis and Butthead, South Park and Tom Green), this Spike Jonze-produced, MTV-disseminated cash-cow is a gleefully debased outgrowth of skate culture — in particular, the prank-laden CKY videos featuring Jackass "performers" Bam Margera and Ryan Dunn — that, essentially, allows the kid in grade school who chugged down Elmer's Glue to get a laugh in a controlled environment in which to wreak havoc on his own body (or those of his complicit friends). And much like its profitable (and cheaply produced) brethren in bawdy behavior listed above, it was only a matter of time before parent company Viacom, undaunted by the show's notable lack of narrative, demanded a foray into cinema; thus, 2002's Jackass: The Movie was spawned. To no one's surprise, it made a killing. Little more than an 84-minute extension of the show, the film is a tawdry triumph for those not likely to run screaming at the sight of, say, a man defecating in a hardware store toilet display. Indeed, the relative freedom of the MPAA's generous "R" rating has allowed the boys not so much a newfound freedom, but a chance to return to the coarser antics of the skateboard videos that launched them into the mainstream; an opportunity to which they respond with an unabashed fervor. At the center of this juvenile maelstrom is the charismatic, would-be movie star (the jury is currently out on that count) Johnny Knoxville, who plays ringmaster to this disparate crew of imbeciles while subjecting himself to some of the more extreme stunts in their oeuvre — e.g. getting shot in the stomach with a riot-control projectile, driving a rental car into a demolition derby, or going toe-to-toe in a "Department Store Boxing" match with the rotund knockout artist, Eric "Butterbean" Esch. As always, Knoxville is joined by a colorful crew of cohorts including the aforementioned Dunn and Margera (the latter exhibiting a Tom Green-like joy in terrorizing his remarkably accommodating parents), Chris "Party Boy" Pontius, Steve-O, and Jason "Wee Man" Acuna, whose most impressive moment comes when he kicks himself in his head. The stunts aren't always terribly fresh (the Japanese have been indulging in these kinds of outrageous, anything-for-a-gasp antics for decades), and sometimes they fizzle out entirely (the shrimp-pants dive with whale sharks wouldn't even raise eyebrows on The Discovery Channel). But the belly laughs are nearly unceasing for those predisposed to enjoy this kind of thing. What makes it all more enjoyable than it has any right to be are the personalities of the various Jackasses, who are mostly of the lovable buffoon variety rather than genuine dangers to society. They clearly love to make each other laugh at any cost, and revel in doing just that no matter what the physical toll. And this convivial relationship between the lads negates, with only a few exceptions (mostly listed under "Margera, Bam"), any sense of mean-spiritedness that would render the proceedings largely distasteful. Though undeniably fun in the theaters, Jackass: The Movie is really made for home viewing, and Paramount's presentation does not disappoint, with a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The disc offers up plenty of extras, including 27 minutes of additional footage, some of which was undoubtedly excised to secure the film's "R" rating. There also are two commentaries, one from director Jeff Tremaine, cinematographer Dimitry Elyashkevich, and Johnny Knoxville that dishes on the difficulties, mistakes and injuries experienced throughout the ragtag, $5 million production; and another from the rest of the Jackass cast that consists mostly of insults being slung back and forth. The extras are rounded out by MTV's "Making of Jackass: The Movie," outtakes (featuring the film's failed "Rube Goldberg" finale), promo spots, two music videos, the theatrical trailer, cast-and-crew biographies, and a photo and poster gallery. Keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks



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