A lot has changed in the last 12 years. Since 2010, diversity has become a cornerstone of entertainment, YouTube has fundamentally changed the way it runs and some world leaders have been replaced at least twice. When Jackass 3 was released in Autumn of that year, it was heralded as the final outing for the outrageous franchise which had launched as a TV series in 2000, It was followed by Jackass 3.5; a film comprised of deleted stunts from Jackass 3, and Bad Grandpa; a film centered around the escapades of Johnny Knoxville’s character Irving Zisman but that was it. The crew remained hopeful that a fourth installment would be made, even after the passing of founding crewmember Ryan Dunn in 200, and in December of 2019, they got their wish.
Jackass Forever (stylised with a love heart for the “o”) finally entered the world in 2022, serving as a reminder that comedy can still be found even in the bleakest of times. As with every other installment, the film follows the cast and crew as they play elaborate, dangerous pranks on each other and perform equally elaborate dangerous stunts. Any fears that the original cast and crew have matured over the last 12 years are quickly squandered by the cinematic opening which features a male appendage painted to look like Godzilla, causing havoc on a model town, cut with live-action footage to look like an actual movie of course. The stunts/pranks that follow are less disgusting than in previous years, with feces only making a couple of appearances (once in the opening and then again by accident later) but they are no less dangerous. Blood is drawn, bones are cracked, animals are constantly present and Knoxville once again suffers a concussion. The only prank this time around that caused any genuine squirms feature a box of bees and a very naked Steve-O (who’s in great shape, as is Knoxville).
This is likely the last time that the original crew will do a film like this, given their advancing age and numerous previous injuries. Indeed, they aren’t performing a majority of the truly dangerous stunts here, opting instead to quite literally draw some fresh blood. This includes cameos from some famous faces like Machine Gun Kelly, Eric Andre, and Tyler the Creator but there’s a whole new cast of dedicated performers being put through their paces here. They do the Jackass brand proud and, if a fifth installment ever was to manifest, it would be a delight to watch them again with the original crew taking another step back. Yes, a large amount of the charm of Jackass comes from the presence of those original cast members and their interactions. Knoxville, Steve-o, Dunn, and even Bam Magera (absent here due to personal issues) are Jackass for so many people. For two decades, they have put their health on the line for our entertainment, and I have a large amount of respect for them for that, so they’ve definitely earned an out if they want it.
There’s a large amount of nostalgia embedded in Jackass Forever. The heart for an o, the reminiscing, the recreation of older stunts, and even the title make it clear that this will likely be it. Part of the joy of this series has been hunting down the stunts on their own online, but those stunts just don’t align with the internet as it exists today. I, and many others, discovered Jackass through clips on YouTube in the early hours of the morning but, thanks to the Adpocolypse, those original clips likely won’t survive unless behind an age barrier. Sure, Jackass could adapt and tone themselves down, but then it wouldn’t really be Jackass. Regardless of what the future holds, their legacy will carry on.
The Jackass crew were here. They destroyed themselves for our entertainment. Their latest installment may not be the best but, given the circumstances, it may be the most necessary.