‘Jackass Forever’ Review: A Legacy Of Pain, Laughs & Friendship

Aaron Neuwirth reviews Jackass Forever, the fourth cinematic event led by Johnny Knoxville, as the wild crew enlists new recruits to help with their hilarious and vulgar shenanigans.
User Rating: 7

With over two decades of Jackass behind this crew of immature stuntmen, it would seem as though audiences know whether or not they are in with the kind of dangerous humor these guys go for. Slapstick, where the stick is a rusty blade, is perhaps one way to describe the elaborate stunts and pranks witnessed in Jackass Forever. But how much else is there really to say for the fourth film in a series composed of various skits edited down from hundreds of hours of vulgar shenanigans? Well, looking at these guys, who have been more or less left intact, despite all of their injuries, there is something to be said about their continued commitment, the newer generation they’ve roped into all of this, and the latest lineup of innovative ways to commit to painful skits for the sake of our entertainment.

Each of these movies gets the ball rolling with an elaborate set piece setting the stage for what’s going to happen. It’s here where producer/writer Spike Jonze’s influence can be felt most, as the absurdist gags speak to his sensibilities filtered through a garbage dump. For Jackass Forever, it’s as though the film wanted to match my excitement by introducing the crew’s captain, Johnny Knoxville, as a general preparing to take action against a kaiju rampaging through the city. The wider shots show a series of miniatures being invaded by a… one-eyed monster, with cuts to other cast members being blown up, shoved around, or sprayed with… something. It’s a lot to take in, but ten years after Jackass 3D, it’s an excellent way to welcome everyone back.

Perhaps Steve-O recounts his experiences best, though it’s largely through disbelief. Noting how 3D felt like a stretch ten years prior, he’s equally impressed that there’s yet more for him and the gang to do. For whatever troubles had in the past with both his sobriety and encounters with the law, Steve-O’s seemingly at peace (meditation is mentioned during one of his more daring stunts involving a swarm of bees). Of course, while sitting in a wheelchair, with a neck brace, following another stunt, he’s happy to whip out one of his fake teeth to assure everyone that his actions have had consequences.

Of course, with an average age of 50 shared between Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Wee Man, Dave England, Preston Lacy, and Danger Ehren, it only makes sense to add some younger blood into the fold. Being thrown into the fray for some of the more physical stunts, we have Jasper Dolpin, Zack Holmes, Eric Manaka, Rachel Wolfson, and Sean “Poopies” McInerney. Why would anyone sign up with glee to join this rascally crew? Well, they grew up watching them, so why not?

This is where one could actually reflect on what’s taking place, as Jackass Forever now functions as a legacy sequel. Sure, it’s not Creed or Jurassic World as far as having an established narrative continuing years later. Still, between the crudeness and painful bits of play, there’s something to be said about the clear comradery on display and respect that comes from the bonds shared between these people.

No, I wouldn’t want to have to be on my guard every second like this crew must (as witnessed in an elaborate coffee truck setup, anything can be turned into a comedy weapon). However, these folks have found something in participating in all this madness together, and it’s certainly not because getting whacked in the testicles (a lot) or stun gunned by Knoxville (a lot) is a lucrative enterprise. Honestly, there’s more genital mutilation in Jackass Forever than all of the Saw films combined, but it’s still rooted in good-natured fun, which is nothing if not admirable.

Sure, there can be a dark side to all of this. Notably, Jackass member Bam Margera was fired from the film for breaking his sobriety (he can be briefly seen in at least one stunt). There are also the actual injuries and fear experienced by these guys in the heat of the moment. To counter this, however, what better time to show how appreciated one is by their friends.

For all the horrifically comedic stuff taking place, there is never a lack of applause, hugs, and high fives going around for their troubles. New member Jasper even ropes in his father, ex-con Compston “Darkshark” Wilson, for a sequence involving a clear helmet and a tarantula, and I can’t help but think of it as something that brought them closer together.

As for the stunts themselves, well, there’s plenty of creativity on display. Something I found fascinating about Jackass 3D is how so many of the setups felt like elaborate performance art pieces referencing various bits of pop culture. By comparison, Jackass Forever is focused more on the passing of the torch aspect, along with doing what was needed to follow every Covid protocol (as filming had to shut down at one point, tracking when things were filmed based on Knoxville’s sudden silver hair color is an extra bit of fun).

With that said, for all the humor generated out of watching seemingly traumatic injuries take place, an unexpected Silence of the Lambs reference made me laugh about as hard as anything I’ve recently seen. The dedication to bits is vital, and it doesn’t surprise me to see so many credited writers involved, as there’s some weird combination of cinema and ridiculous stunts that returning director Jeff Tremaine wants to harness for the sake of showing what it is to truly go big for these theatrical efforts.

Jackass Forever is not really an evolution, but saying more of the same is dismissive. This is a new chapter in the lives of this screwed-up bunch. It manages to deliver a certain kind of humor by putting all of them in painfully funny situations while never losing track of the positive bond they all share. Sure, Ehren (voluntarily) gets the worst of it, and it’s great to see guests like Eric Andre, Tony Hawk, Tyler the Creator, Rob Dyrdek, and Machine Gun Kelly get roped into this madness, but Jackass still feels like a show about friends doing stupid stuff and celebrating each other for it. The guys may be older, but their sense of adventure through danger and foolishness is timeless.

Jackass Forever opens in theaters on February 4, 2022.

Written by
Aaron Neuwirth is a movie fanatic and Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic from Orange County, California. He’s a member of the African American Film Critics Association, the Hollywood Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the Black Film Critics Circle. As an outgoing person who is always thrilled to discuss movies, he’s also a podcaster who has put far too many hours into published audio content associated with film and television. His work has been published at Variety, We Live Entertainment, Why So Blu, The Young Folks, Firstshowing.net, Screen Rant, and Hi-Def Ninja.

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