Film review: Jackass Forever

Grab your protective cup, Johnny Knoxville and Jackass are back, wilder and funnier than ever…

Film review: Jackass Forever
Nick Ruskell

About 20 minutes into Jackass Forever, you’ll have laughed, winced, crossed your legs and muttered a weary ‘For fuck’s sake…’ more times than you would care to recount. There has been pain, and there have been penises, often one and the same. Then a man shits himself. And this is just the pace car leaving skidmarks – there’s still an hour to go.

From here, the mayhem only increases. Sometimes it is grandiose, taking full advantage of quite how much bigger a film production allows an idea to become. At others, it is literally just watching someone being caught off guard and punched in the nuts. There is vomit and there is bruising and there is the most Jackass game of bat and ball you will ever see. All of it is physical comedy genius.

Going into making their fourth movie after a decade away, and over two decades since the show first aired, no small comment has been given to the increasing age of Jackass’ performers. At 50, Johnny Knoxville is of an age where saying no to being gored by a bull is no slight on his bravery. But this just makes it funnier when he, Steve-O and the other long-in-the-missing-tooth classic protagonists bring it up. And there are new, younger, equally stupid additions to the gang here as well, although none of them take the battering as their elders. There’s also celebrity turns from Machine Gun Kelly (trying to out-pedal Steve-O on an exercise bike in order to deliver one’s opponent a slap from a giant hand attached to it), and Tyler, The Creator (a man right to be suspicious of what director Jeff Tremaine has put under the piano stool he’s sat on).

The stunts are painful and creative, classic Jackass. The banter is hysterical. Even when Johnny is carted off in an ambulance after giving himself his much-publicised brain haemorrhage fighting a bull, there’s still one-liners. Far from an old joke reheated, Jackass Forever dances the fine line between clever and stupid even more deftly than before. They know how to film a good bit, and often there’s a tension that only rises as the full mechanics of what’s going to happen suddenly becomes clear.

What holds it all together and makes it work is the unity, the all-for-one-ness. When the Jackass team laugh – and they do, constantly – they laugh together. The carnage is exhilarating and joyous. Everyone involved, even as their chances of fathering a child visibly crashes to zero, or they realise the terrible path they’ve allowed themselves to be led down, or even as gallons of pig semen make one of them a punchline, is one of a group of friends in this together.

Jackass Forever will make you laugh and squirm, but it will also make you feel good. Rarely has violence and bruising come with such warmth and big heartedness.

Verdict: 4/5

Jackass Forever is released on February 4 via Paramount

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