Judge Gordon Sullivan's college nickname was "Wee Man." We'll let you figure that one out for yourself.
"Hello, I'm Johnny Knoxville. Welcome to Jackass!"
I studiously avoided the Jackass series and both feature films. I'd already misspent my youth doing crazy stunts that were the little brothers of the antics I could glean from commercials and trailers. I avoided them, that is, until John Waters professed his love for Johnny Knoxville and crew for releasing films with more male nudity and latent homosexuality (these guys take entirely too much interest in each other's genitalia, for instance) than any mainstream Hollywood film before or since. Since I'm not generally a fan of watching people hurt themselves, this new perspective gave me a way to watch the Jackass films that didn't feel sadistic. Although they didn't rocket into my top 10, both were satisfyingly goofy bits of adolescent silliness. When news of a third Jackass film, in 3D no less, came ten years after the first show commenced on MTV, I was of two minds. I always think the world needs more goofiness, but with much of the cast firmly in their 30s I was worried that they wouldn't be able to bring the inspired mania of the first films back after such a long hiatus. Mirroring my own feelings, the film is an odd beast, half inspired stunts and half un-inspired infliction of pain. This Blu-ray release is sure to please fans, and the inclusion of the classic 3D process can turn any viewing into an event.
Facts of the Case
The basic idea behind Jackass in all its incarnations is to put a camera in front of stars Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, and Bam Margera (and their hanger-ons and friends) as they attempt a host of strange stunts and try to injury each other in various sadistic ways.
I'll confess that I don't have the strongest memory of the first two Jackass films, but from what I recall the focus was on silly pranks and outrageous stunts, not so much on just plain hurting each other. This time out the various stunts can be divided into three categories:
Pure Stunts. These include some fun moments like "Jet Ski," where Johnny Knoxville rides a jetski up a ramp in an attempt to jump a bush, or "The Bungee Boogie," which finds our heroes using a giant Bungee cord to rocket themselves up a ramp and into a pool.
Pure Pain. These are "stunts" whose whole goal is to leave someone in pain, preferably from genital trauma. My "favorite" is "Tee Ball," where a baseball is placed on a pivot such that when one star hits it, it smacks right into the crotch of the person standing opposite. No setup, no story, no stunt—just a silly man standing up to a stupid amount of pain.
The Middle. These are those moments in the film where the intent is obviously to hurt the participant, but they have some say in how it goes down. These include segments like "Electric Avenue," where Bam Margera and crew (dressed as prisoners) attempt a to run a course of tires down a hall that has stun-guns and cattleprods strewn about it, or "Duck Hunting," where someone is shot in the air over a pond while the rest of the guys shoot at him with paintball guns.
There are some other segments, like the Johnny Knoxville-behaving-badly in "Bad Grandpa," or the slow-mo "Rocky" scenes that involve punching, but the bulk of the film is stunt-oriented. For my money, this installment errs a little to far on the side of pure pain to be satisfying. I don't mind it when the stunts go wrong and somebody ends up injured (it can be quite fun), but too many of the sequences just involve someone being hurt with no element of skill or luck involved. That's not really my cup of tea, though some fans may enjoy that kind of thing.
Despite the excess of pain-focused moments, Jackass 3D has enough inspired silliness to make it worth sitting through, including the aforementioned "Jet Ski" and "Bungee Boogie," as well a classic where the guys play tether ball with a beehive loaded with bees. It's both clever and stupid, and allows the guys to endure enough pain and humiliation to make it funny as well.
The 3D effects (available on the DVD included in this edition with four pairs of old-school red/blue glasses) are used sparingly, but generally work out within the context of the stunts, with various things flying at the audience. Only the theatrical version is available in 3D. The unrated cut lasts five minutes longer than the theatrical version, though considering the extremity of the series nothing substantial is added in the unrated cut.
With that said, you can watch Jackass 3D four different ways with this set. The Blu-ray includes both the theatrical and unrated cuts, while the DVD includes the theatrical film in 3D and a digital copy of the theatrical cut in non-3D as well. On Blu-ray, Jackass 3D looks like the recent production that it is. On this AVC-encoded transfer, colors are bright, details (like the numerous bees on the tetherball) are strong, and no serious compression or artifacting problems are evident. The differences in source quality produce some changes as the film goes on, but nothing too distracting. The DTS-HD 5.1 surround track is appropriately boomy during the musical cues, and keeps all the moans, curses, and exclamations of the cast easy to hear.
For extras, we get a 30 minute making-of, 16 minutes of deleted scenes and 18 minutes of outtakes. Jackass 3.5 is on the horizon, made up of segments shot for this film, but the team didn't scrimp on this release.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Of course Jackass 3D is still chock-full of horrible examples for young people. There's no arguing that this film is all about doing things that the average person shouldn't attempt. If you didn't enjoy the previous Jackass outings then there's nothing in this one to tempt you into the fold. As far as the Blu-ray is concerned, a commentary from the team would have been a welcome addition. A proper 3D Blu-ray release would probably also be welcome.
For longtime fans of the series, Jackass 3D delivers the goods, though it might appeal more to the hardcore contingent than the casual stunt-fan. With so many ways to watch the film in such high quality, this Blu-ray gets a strong recommendation, though penny-pinching fans may want to wait for Jackass 3.5, in case there's a combined edition with more extras.
Jackass 3D says it all, but these boys are not guilty.
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