Jackass 3 reaches a kind of frenzied gloried. Though I enjoyed (I suppose that is the word) the other two Jackass films to one degree or another, they have now been made completely redundant. One cannot imagine where they can go from here. Or perhaps one simply does not want to. There’s something hypnotic about watching Jackass 3. It is like watching civilization end. Hunter Thompson once marveled that Circus Circus was what we would be doing every Saturday Night if the Nazi’s won the war. Jackass 3 is how we would spend our evenings if the bomb went off and nobody bothered to rebuild.
It’s hard to pinpoint just what makes the experience of watching the crew (including Chris Pontius the pride of my hometown) do horrifying things to one another so different this time out. I mean sure the depravity and brutality have been turned up a few notches, with even relatively innocent sketches like Knoxville trying to disprove Roger Miller’s Thesis about Roller Skating in a Buffalo herd drawing winces. But there’s something else going on here, When one of the film’s running gags is that the veteran camera man keeps throwing up, you know things have taken a turn.
Part of it is that they are no longer kids. It’s one thing to do this to yourself wired on testosterone and a headful of drugs, but as one reaches middle age and (supposed) sobriety the prospect must become less appealing. Before one particularly brutal stunt Steve-O moans “Why do I have to be Steve-O” with what sounds suspiciously like existential despair.
My thirst for things that make me despair for the future of the human race not yet slated I also watched Jackass 2.5. The .5 series is if anything worse than the main one. As it consists entirely of stunts that the crew believes that they did not pull off. The main difference is that while the stunts in the main film usually end with the ensemble chortling like a pack of hyenas over a kill the .5 series are more apt to end with them staring at the spectacle they just caused with horrible numb introspection. What could cause such horror and remorse in a group as hardened as the Jackass crew I shall leave to your imagination.
It’s hard to believe; even setting aside the death of cast member Ryan Dunn that there could be a follow up at this point. There’s nowhere else to go. Unless they’re willing to have Jackass 4 end with the cast participating in a literal reenactment of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. With the chorus of hooting and chattering as they use rocks to smash one of their fellow’s skull to bits. It is perhaps the logical endpoint of the series.