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In the first Jackass he delighted in practical jokes more so than the physical stuff his opening car rental gag and the later bit involving an air horn on a golf course were more akin to some type of extreme Candid Camera but in Jackass: Number Two he's really off his rocker.
Beginning with a sequence where he is chased through a living room by a bull, or later when he rides a rocket (a stunt which almost cost him his life due to an unexpected explosion from the side of the rocket), and especially when he stands willfully in front of a defense mechanism and takes a spray of pellets to the stomach, Knoxville is a madman. In the first film Bam Margera and Steve-O notorious party animals were the daring ones, but you know it's pretty bad when you see Knoxville enticing them to do a stunt.
This is essentially a series of stunts pulled off by guys consumed by testosterone, constantly trying to one-up each other. It will eventually end in death for one of the cast members in Jackass 2 Steve-O nearly loses a leg to a shark, Knoxville (as aforementioned) is nearly impaled with an explosion from a rocket, and so on and so forth. Jackass 3 has already been confirmed owing to the success of 2, and frankly I can't imagine any stunt out-performing the bull run in the opening scene of this film that's incredible footage. It's almost unbelievable, and I wondered whether it had been faked, but apparently it was 100% genuine. (Which is actually kind of frightening.) And in terms of extremes Jackass 2 far outdoes its predecessor it also feels more cinematic than the first film, with less of the cheesy titles preceding stunts that were made famous on the original MTV television show.
Unfortunately, the boys were given too much freedom here, and a good number of the gags are simply lame exercises in crudity I can enjoy the occasional poop gag, but watching a man relieve himself on a miniature toilet, or see Steve-O take beer up the butt (yes, honestly), gets grating after a while. Even the frat boys in the screening I attended who were enthusiastic when Wee Man took a playing card up the rear and got zapped by a rigged chair were disgusted by some of the scenes in this film. It's not a matter of getting away with as much as possible it's a matter of saying, "Is this even entertaining or funny?" Many times, sadly, it really isn't.
But for every lame stunt involving fecal matter and farting on people's faces, there are some brilliant hidden-camera bits. Wacky director Spike Jonze ("Adaptation") dresses up as an old woman and hits the streets naked, with sagging breasts and no shame. And my personal favorite skit involved Knoxville as an irresponsible old man, out for lunch with his grandson, letting him drink alcohol and smoke and swear and insult people. That's classic comedy taken to new extremes with the liberties of an R-rating. It's a shame they had to ruin all the great stuff including a final segment involving an elaborate terrorist prank with poop jokes along the way.
Still, there's enough sheer spirit and craziness in this film to merit a viewing, and it's really taken the concept of extremity in cinema to new heights.
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