Jackass Number Two: Unrated (US - DVD R1)
Injured idiots aren't really Gabe's thing, but he respects idiocy for what it is...
Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera, and the rest of the Jackass crew make their way back to the big screen with more grotesque, ridiculous, and sometime hilarious (not to mention blatantly homoerotic) stunts and pranks. Some of the highlights this time around include Steve-O sticking a leech directly on his eyeball, Knoxville being pummelled by various angry bulls, and Bam getting an erect penis branded directly on his buttocks. There are also plenty of testicles, vomiting, and anal leakage to go around.
I'm not a fan of the Jackass TV series, or any of its many predecessors or spin offs (I have a special hatred for Viva la Bam, but a slight soft spot for Wild Boys). I never saw the first Jackass feature film, and never wanted to, but was happy when it pulled in some solid figures at the box office. I know that the film's popularity could easily be perceived as another sign of a decline of modern society, but I choose to see it rather as a sign of home made, independent film sticking it hard to big-budget idiocy. There is a major studio behind this machine, but it makes me a bit warm and fuzzy all the same.
The chance to review Jackass Number Two was not high on my to-do list, but I figured I should give it a go. I expected nothing, but assumed that this was a case where ignorance wasn't necessarily bliss. For the most part I was not let down in my incredibly low expectations, and about half the film is total garbage. What I wasn't expecting was for the other half to shine with faint glimmers of creative integrity, and I'm forced to admit that I laughed more than once. If I didn't give it up for 'Fire Hose Rodeo', I'd just be a prude, now wouldn't I?
This really comes down to taste. Personally I find accidental slapstick much funnier than forced slapstick, so the sequences that featured things not going according to plan were my personal favourites. There is something comedically pure about people falling down that I cannot help but love. Gross-out humour, on the other hand, is a bit trickier for me. Just throwing disgusting images at the screen will not make me laugh, gross-out comedy almost exclusively works only when placed in the proper context. I'm a Peter Jackson fanatic, but I find Braindead far more amusing than Meet the Feebles, as the context, and inherit plot of the former is just genuinely hilarious, whereas I find the later simply too abstract.
So for the most part, I didn't laugh at any of the Jackass crew's bodily function based humour. I see the humour in it, and I wasn't so disgusted that I had to turn away, but it just didn't make me laugh. The same thing goes for the film's many (mostly) well-planned pranks. I appreciated the elaborately planned pranks (like the big one that more or less closes out the show) but it was the more simple pranks, and the ones that resulted in instant, physical damage to the prankee that managed to pull a giggle from my throat. Some of the bigger pranks were too repetitive, and sadly, downright boring.
What I did finally realise about halfway through the film was that what these idiots were accomplishing, intentionally or not, was a violent form of performance art. Jackass is the 21st Century answer to late 20th Century Dadaist and comedic performance art pioneers like Andy Kaufman. The main difference being that Jackass aims its ire at its performers over its audience (like gross-out performance pioneer G.G. Allan, most likely a favourite of the Jackass crew), and is paced for the MTV generation. It's the perfect amalgamation of the most popular performance art categories of recent decades– the sketch show, and the reality show. Despite Johnny Knoxville's obviously intentionally ironic T-shirt that states, "F**k Art, Let's Dance", he and his friends have birthed an insanely popular, and depressingly relevant art form. For that, I have to give them credit.
The video quality varies throughout the picture, but considering the non-theatrical feel to the majority of the film, this isn't too surprising. Sometimes things are incredibly grainy, other times details are insanely sharp. It's all kind of a crapshoot. The one deterring element throughout the print is the presence of edge-enhancement, but who here watches these flicks for their pristine video presentations? Do we really need to see every specific chunk of Steve-O's vomit? So long as it's anamorphically enhanced and readable fans should be happy.
The only time the digital sound is at all required is when the soundtrack kicks in. The film seems to have been recorded with a solitary channel because I didn't notice any directional effects coming from the on-screen action. The dialogue is clear enough, and most of the tracks distortion is due to an explosion or riotous laughter over-loading the on-set mic. The musical selections will give a good system a work out, especially the use of Peaches' bass heavy track 'F**k The Pain Away', which plays in its near entirety.
This single disc set is more loaded than some two disc sets I've purchased (I'm looking at you, Goodfellas special edition), and fans should be happy to know that the majority of the extras are additional stunt and prank footage. Our first bit of nasty business is the cast commentary, which is pretty much exactly what one might expect-a bunch of jackasses laughing at their own jokes. There's some solid behind the scenes information, but mostly it's all about the giggles, which are sometimes quite infectious, but ultimately very tiring. It's always a good time listening to people make fun of Bam's tears though.
There's a 30 minute making-of featurette, which cuts together some funny interviews and behind the scenes footage. Not much to learn here, as the film itself is effectively a documentary, but the unbelievable comradely of these bastards does shine like a polished turd. It's amazing a man can love another man so much, even after that other man has crushed his head with garbage can lids. At the end of the document we learn that Knoxville had an insatiable need to film himself getting injured, to the point that he refused to quit filming even after the movie was in the can. For a guy with a successful Hollywood career, this behaviour strikes me as particularly psychotic. Perhaps that's why we love him though.
Then there are a whole Hell of a lot of deleted scenes, which have been curiously placed into a few varying categories. They are all deleted and extended scenes, despite their categorisation. the unrated additional segments should've probably been called The Penis Reel, as this was the stuff the director and producers were too afraid to even put into the unrated cut of the film. These are introduced by Bam, who warns the more homophobic members of the audience things are about to get a little gay. I admit that this stuff made me wince, especially the Indian man and his penile wrapping skills.
The deleted scenes and additional segments are as mixed a bag as the film. Some of the stunts here are funnier than some of the ones that made it into the film, but the elongated and additional old couple pranks are really dull and deserved to find their way onto the cutting room floor. Of course, there's a whole bunch more waste vacating bodies here, and that's honestly something I could do without seeing. The deleted scenes also curiously contain quite a few celebrity cameos.
The outtakes section is not so surprisingly brief, considering the fact that there really aren't any 'bloopers' on Jackass. This reel is mostly made up of flubbed lines.
The rest of the disc is promotional stuff. This includes a music video, which destroys any doubt as to the homoerotic nature of these friends, a collection of trailers and TV spots, and some MTV Video Music Awards promo spots. The trailers, especially the TV spot where Knoxville straps on a blindfold in preparation for an unseen assaulter, are honestly brilliant.
It's really not my bag, this Jackass Number Two, but I really, truly, and honestly respect these guys as artists, entertainers, and most of all, complete idiots. I won't be looking forward to Jackass Number Three myself, but I do finally get what all the frat boy fuss is about. Fans should revel in this DVD with effectively doubles the runtime of the film with deleted scenes. Despite my negative comments and overall score, people should probably see this as a positive review, especially considering how much I assumed I'd detest the film. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to bury this DVD in my backyard so I never have to watch Steve-O puke up spaghetti again.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 26th December 2006
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Director/Cast Commentary, The Making of Jackass Number Two, 16 Deleted Scenes, 29 Additional Segments, 9 TV Spots, 8 Promotional Spots, Outtakes, Karazy Music Video, Trailer, VMA Spots
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy
Length: 93 minutes