Jackass Forever is chaotic, stupid – and almost perfect
A monster penis adorned with make-up and puppets attacked by a real snapping turtle. A milk chug contest on a mechanical carousel, directly under a bombardment carried out by military planes. PK Subban fires a hockey puck so hard at a man’s groin that the metal cup he’s carrying comes off with a considerable – and disturbing – gash.
All this and more are the waterfalls scattered throughout Fooled forever. The film, which will be released in Canada on Friday, is a throwback more than 10 years after the last entry in the series and just under two decades since the first, Jackass: the movie.
The deceptively heartwarming fourth entry isn’t just a triumphant (almost unbelievable, considering their age) swan song for a bunch of guys who started filming low-level pranks on consumer video cameras, but it’s is currently the highest rated film they’ve created – by a long shot.
And, like all things Donkeythe reasons are quite simple.
First, it’s good. That’s not to say it’s for everyone – if you’ve never “gotten” the fun of using bungee cords to toss a man in a porta-potty 30 yards into the air, or of shooting adult adults wearing duck suits from a canoe with paintball guns, or (heaven forbid) the infamous “paper cut” stunt, Donkey Always is not for you.
WATCH | Fooled forever trailer:
But for a specific group of a specific age, it’s an unnecessary but welcome victory lap, after the aging group of skaters had already pushed their luck with 3d donkey. And at the end, Fooled forever is one of the rare examples of simple, straightforward, non-toxic fun: behind the crude humor and over-the-top stunts, there’s a kind of wholesome bliss that feels like it’s straight back to the early 2000s.
In the right direction.
But outside of the rollback, there are definitely updates. Despite the relatively small budget of US$10 million, the film looks great. When Johnny Knoxville does a double backflip after nearly being gored by a very angry bull, you’re treated to every shifting microexpression as he tumbles through the air in slow motion. And as he lies unconscious on the floor, you see all the same expressions on his castmates’ faces as they joke around and wait to see if their captain wakes up.
Camaraderie between old and new stars
Which leads to the other reason Fooled forever simply works, and why it worked for so long – surviving both imitators and a few predecessors. The camaraderie between veterans (including Knoxville, Steve-O, Jason Acuña and Chris Pontius) and the crop of new stars never feels forced or fake.
In fact, most of them were already fans of the show or friends with the cast. Both too stupid to die creator Zach Holmes and rapper Machine Gun Kelly show off their Donkey-tattoos inspired by different moments in the film; comedian Rachel Wolfson – the first female member of the franchise – is a self-proclaimed longtime woman Donkey fan; and actor and former rapper Jasper Dolphin often had Donkey stars like Knoxville, Bam Margera and Dave England in his comedy sketch series Loafer Squad.
Dolphin – real name Davon Wilson – even went so far as to chain another Loafer Squad member Tyler, The Creator, and his own father, Dark Shark. And although Dark Shark and his incredible fear of insects, dogs and “anything you can’t find in the hood” might be the surprise of Donkeythe guest stars, they are in good company.
Everyone from skateboarder Tony Hawk to UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou to comedian Eric André and even Mythbusters Tory Belleci is roped in to administer the pain — or smile and cash in.
And in real Donkey mode, it really feels like they got involved because it all seemed like a fun night. Tyler understands the trick that is about to be played on him but lets him continue anyway – before screaming in pain and turning it back on director Jeff Tremaine.
Meanwhile, Subban issues a gleeful (and completely unprintable) threat to stuntman Ehren McGhehey before unleashing what appears to be his most powerful slap shot. And in all the chaos, there is relief in the lack of subtext.
It’s because there’s no real depth Asshole forever — again, in a good way. There’s no message or meaning and, to be honest, very little to analyze – a refreshing break from the drama-soaked real world.
Fooled forever maybe just more of the same, but that’s more of what is needed. It’s 2002 Donkey, but better. Just a bunch of dudes being dudes – and what might seem to people of a certain generation like a throwback to a time when everything seemed a lot less serious.
That is to say if Donkey is your kind of thing.
But as ironically comforting as it sounds, there is a sweet and sour taste. Regardless of the surprising commitment stars over 40 continue to put into the stunts, the track record is clear.
Like Knoxville, Steve-O ends up unconscious and bleeding from the head in one scene before being taken out on a stretcher. But in Knoxville’s case, the injury resulted in a brain hemorrhage and a consummate daredevil promise that this will likely be his last. Donkey film in front of the camera.
Behind the lens, the team faces court cases on two fronts: the first is a lawsuit filed by a jet ski operator seeking $12 million in damages for a stunt gone wrong, and another is of Donkey founder Bam Margera.
Margera (who has been on the team since the original MTV show in 2000, and whose CKY series of videos most likely inspired Donkey first) alleges that his civil rights were violated after producers forced him to sign a “welfare agreement.”
While he was initially to participate in Donkey Alwayshe was fired for failing a drug test – a condition put in place by production company Paramount after director Tremaine had to fight to get him included in the first place.
Although they initially seemed on good terms, Tremaine has since filed a restraining order against Margera, while Knoxville called the whole breakup “heartbreaking”.
And in a series of Instagram videos where Margera opened up about how he felt kicked out and “abandoned,” costar Steve-O left the since-deleted comment: “Everyone went out of their way to get you in the movie , and all you had to do was not get charged. You kept getting charged, it’s as simple as that.”
Despite the pleasure of returning to the world of Donkey, it’s quite a sign that nothing stays simple forever. Although the traditional home exit from the backstage donkey 4.5 is on its way later this year, it looks like real life is finally catching up with the inconsequential bubble that Donkey crew created and seemed to dwell.
So if you want to see a man tied up in a room with a live bear — and covered in honey and salmon — still walking away smiling, I’d get to it while I still could.