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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Jackass: Number Two

The easiest thing to say about Jackass: Number Two is that it is a movie made for jackasses, but the more frightening reality is that it will make lots of money, tons in fact, and mostly from teenagers and the young “adults” to whom we entrust the future of our world. I’m scared.

Friday night the Essex Cinemas looked like it was holding a Beavis and Butthead look-alike contest, but it was actually the crowd that was swarming in to see this mindless stream of inane stunts designed primarily to cause self-harm or injury to others. Needless to say, it had the kids cheering between the surreptitious sips of contraband booze they smuggled into the theater thanks mostly due to neglectful parents not keeping an eye on their liquor cabinets at home.

And speaking of parents… what is wrong with these people? Bernie, of the projectionists at the
Essex Cinemas, told me about a mother who was incensed that she had to leave her waiting car, idling at the curb by the front door of the theater, and walk those twenty or so steps into the complex to give her permission to the box office cashier to sell a ticket so her underage son could see this R rated movie. Mommy Dearest was furious that she had to get involved in the transaction. Imagine. She actually had to think for a brief second about her child’s welfare, though she obviously didn’t really since all she did was complain about the fact that she was inconvenienced and had to hang up her cell phone and direct her attention away from herself for a moment. It never occurred to her that the theater was doing its’ job in refusing anyone under the age of 17 admittance to the movie without a parent’s permission. Too bad she didn’t stop to think about what she was giving her son permission to “enjoy”. Too bad more parents don’t seem to care or question what their kids are being exposed to in the name of entertainment these days.

Jackass: Number Two is filled with a plethora of scenes that would cause
most people over the age of 30 to blush, especially if they saw them in mixed company or with someone they respected. The movie begins with one of the Jackass regulars, Chris Pontius (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle), putting an athletic sock over his penis and sticking it through a wall into a terrarium where he waves it at a live snake until the snake bites his member. He screams, the crew laughs, the victim withdraws said penis through the hole with the snake still attached and the crew works to pry the snake’s head from his manhood. End of scene.

Genitalia plays a major role in Jackass: Number Two as most transition scenes seem to consist of little more than having one cast member kick another in the groin or slam something there for no apparent reason but to have the camera operator drop his equipment and laugh. I guess some things never get old, as the audience I saw it with never ceased to laugh no matter how often it happened. Other “highlights” of the movie included having one guy pour water on his testicles then sit on a block of ice outdoors in the freezing winter to see if they would stick to the ice. When they did (of course), he was body slammed by another cast member so that the skin, pubic hair, and a few other bodily fluids (and solids) were expelled out of him and onto the ice, to be examined in close-up as the skin-free testicle owner lay rolling in pain on the ground, ignored. The audience roared uncontrollably.

Other tasteful scenes include the all male cast masturbating a stallion to climax and then sharing the collected semen as a cocktail; later one bets the other $200 that he won’t eat a piece of horse feces in the field (he does); a group party scene follows where the boys cheer on as Steve-O (Blind
Horizon) “chugs” a bottleful of beer through a see-through hose up into his rectum and then expels it across a balcony full of party-goers; and if that is not enough there is a particularly odd take on the “strong-man game” one sees at a county fair, only in this version a naked man, hanging his bottom over the tower’s edge, has replaced the bell at the top and the puck at the bottom is now replaced with a massive solid rubber phallus, which flies upward at an incredible speed when a player hits the velocity-measuring platform with the mallet provided. I think you can see where this one is going. Yes, Jackass: Number Two is quite the little movie.

Bodily fluids are on full display as we are treated to close-ups of men vomiting multiple times, urinating, passing gas, and even ~umm~ let’s say dropping a few kids off at the pool. Yup, the kids in the audience get to witness two of the guys share their bowel movements, neither of which is anywhere near where you might hope they would logically happen.

Interspersed, of course, are less revolting interludes, mostly of cast members being smashed on skateboards, minicycles, bicycles, and rocket-propelled just-about-anythings, all of which get to be extremely repetitive and tiresome after awhile. The only things that change are the placement if the injuries. Will it be the head, the knees, the buttocks, hips, or elbows? The excitement is never-ending.

Despite all of this, there is some creativity to be found in Jackass:
Number Two that shows it can rise above the obvious inanity of naming the movie “Number Two” as in a child’s version of what to call a bowel movement rather than simply tossing a “2” on the end of the title to indicate that it is a sequel. The finale is a well-crafted, poorly sung, yet clever spoof on old Busby Berkley movies of the 1930s and Esther Williams’ pool extravaganzas of the late ‘40s. It does show that Johnny Knoxville (Dukes of Hazzard), the “brains” behind the Jackass series, is capable of something better than having his guys shave their pubic hair (on camera) and then underhandedly having the mixture glued on the face of an unsuspecting idiot, Ehren Mcgehehey (Grind), who they’ve recruited to play a terrorist in a skit that is supposed to ‘punk’ a cab driver but is really about pulling one over on the guy wearing everybody’s pubes. Of course, the bonus is that along the way, Knoxville discovers one of his guys has crabs, not that this public health nuisance slows Johnny down. If anything, it only makes the joke all the more “special” when he screams that fact to the poor schlub with the faux whiskers glued to his head, sending the crew once more rolling to the floor in gales of laughter. Ewww.

Ironically, many critics have already acclaimed Jackass: Number Two a triumph. A triumph over what exactly I’m not sure, other than good taste, good sense, and good breeding. If this is any indication of what the irate Mom (and millions of other parents like her) is willing to let her kid see for entertainment without giving it a second thought, then does she really have much ground to stand on when she finds him doing something equally as repulsive at home or out in public?

Say what you will about the “crazed Iraqis” and their culture of hate but even though they hack people’ heads off I’m pretty sure it’s done with strong political
and religious reasons behind it. Over here, it would just be viewed as some awesome stunt for the upcoming Jackass 3 and you’d find an audience full of dimbulbs ready to laugh and be grossed out by it before moving on to the next scene without giving a care to the human suffering involved. What a waste of celluloid.

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