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“Jackass,” the shock value stunt show that began on MTV in 2000 before branching out to movies, should never have lasted this long. The self-destructive punishment inflicted on the original cast should have broken their bodies, minds and spirits by now, and yet twenty-two years of jackassery continues this weekend. Those purveyors of puerile pratfalls, Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and Wee Man, along with a new cast of daredevils, careen back into theatres with more idiotic and dangerous stunts to make you say, “Oh, that must hurt.”

For some, the title “Jackass Forever” may seem like a threat. A promise to further erode the fabric of civilization by banging these extreme stunt movies out until Knoxville and Company have collectively broken every bone in their respective bodies to the delight of their bloodthirsty fans.

For others it’ll be like hanging out with old friends. Old friends who put one another in constant danger, but old friends nonetheless.

Camaraderie is at the core of the “Jackass Forever.” The stunts are dangerous, often gross and most definitely childish, but there is something that bonds the cast other than a Wile E. Coyote-style tolerance for pain. They’re pals who do stupid things and there is something endearing about the way they push the boundaries of safety and good taste, yukking it up all the while.

I think the appeal of “Jackass” is kind of like the appeal of true crime. You get a dopamine rush when terrible things happen, but somehow comforted that they’re happening to someone else.

It’s all about vicarious thrills.

Like the folks who attended the Roman Coliseum for the vicarious thrill of watching public spectacles involving man and beast, audiences will likely pay good money to watch what maybe the most jackassy of all the “Jackass” spin offs. Giggle as Steve-O gets assaulted, below the belt, by a swarm of bees. What’s it like to lick a taser? Step right up! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Folks, watch the Flight of Icarus! See a winged Knoxville get shot out of a canon!

It’s very silly, often cringeworthy but as guest star Eric Andre says, “This ain’t a Mensa convention.” Instead, it is an exploration of the art of the wedgie and other Theatre of Cruelty pranks.

I would love to report that no Knoxvilles were harmed during the making of this movie but that isn’t the case. He takes on a bull and loses, breaking his wrist, some ribs and suffering a traumatic brain injury but the show goes on.

The audience for “Jackass Forever” already knows what to expect. Nudity. Puke. Scorpion Botox. Unnatural Acts, Close-Up Nudity and Humiliation. For the most part they’ll get what they paid for. It’s a chaotic, funny, plotless mix of friendship and don’t-try-this-at-home stunts that is complete fan service for folks who know that it is never not funny to see someone get kicked in the testicles.

For the uninitiated, you have been warned.


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