Scrolling through the seemingly endless selection of classic films within the Netflix interface can leave you feeling a little stupefied. Not purely because of the volume of choice but because of the high intellect of much of their titles. Netflix has made a strong ploy for picking up the arty side of filmmaking and is achieving a well-balanced list of films that pay homage to some of the smarter moments in Hollywood. However, for my money, there is one film that deserves far more attention; Jackass 4.5.
When was the last time you really let yourself laugh? The last time you opened up your soul, forgot about impending climate catastrophe, put thoughts of airborne human apocalypse to the back of your brain, left the notions of ill-equipped, lying political leaders in the lobby and just gave yourself over to joy? Well, for this 30-something-year-old, it felt like too damn long. That was, up until I saw the extended highlights of the Jackass crew’s fourth feature film, Jackass Forever. The new film, 4.5 comes with all that picture had a few more morsels of incredible, belly-laughing hilarity.
“It’s strong. You know we have a strong movie when 4.5 is strong,” Johnny Knoxville told Rolling Stone. “So many great things got kicked out of *Jackass Forever *just because maybe they were similar to something else we had in the film, or we had too many pranks on the cast, or too many things like this. Any number of reasons can kick something into 4.5.”
He added: “Also, it’s great since you can break down a scene and do interviews and get a little underneath the hood of a stunt or a prank. And there’s more [Compston] Darkshark [Wilson] in that one. He’s amazing! He’s the funniest guy!”
It’s fair to say that when Jackass first aired on MTV and saved the world from 21st Century pomp, it was primed for people like me. Having spent many of my pre-teen years dabbling in skateboarding, BMX-ing and just generally messing around, when the show found its mainstream home on the subversive channel, I was the most excited 12-year-old in the world. Not only had I been fascinated with the anarchic chaos of the CKY videos that it had spawned from, but I was ready to dive into all the poop, fart and dick jokes they had on offer. And they had a lot on offer.
A lot has changed in 20 years. We are now far closer to a dystopian future than ever before. But as a pandemic continues to kill thousands of people per day, Mark Zuckerberg creates a Metaverse to sell us digital Ralph Lauren clothing, and our political leaders deliberately lie and cheat us, at least we can rest assured that watching someone get thrown into the air by a heavyweight champion delivering a right hook to the nether regions is still incredibly funny.
Here’s the crux of it: if that first reference to Francis Ngannou, current UFC heavyweight champion, landing one of his most brutal punches into the soft crotch of “Danger Ehren” and lifting him off the ground and into a metal garage door doesn’t interest you, then maybe this film isn’t for you. You won’t find the multiple explosions, paintball demolitions, penis monsters, fart jokes, dangerous animal teasing or pig semen dumping very funny.
If, however, you’re looking to escape the impending doom of daily life and are ready to see a group of middle-aged men (plus a few welcomed newbies) put their bodies on the line to make a few bucks and grab auditorium-size laughs from your sofa, then this could be the light relief you require.
Any fears of the classic cast, fronted by Johnny Knoxville but supported by Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Wee Man, Dave England, Preston Lacy, and many others, wilting with age or taking it easy were extinguished within the first seconds of production. Equally, and perhaps more pertinently, any worries that each stunt may be tinged with a sense of existential sadness is quickly wiped away with a self-referential sense of collective humanity. Yes, they were now into their fifties and still shitting in public, but as the old adage says: everybody poops.
Without the restrictions of a pesky narrative arc or dialogue, the film is a laugh a minute, and that’s really no exaggeration.
Watch Jackass 4.5 on Netflix now.