I don’t think anybody needs me to explain to them what “Jackass” is about. If you don’t know what it is, or do know and are offended that people actually pay money to watch that crap, put down your Nexus and pay attention to your lecturer. Here’s a spoiler for the rest of the review: “Jackass 3D” is fun to watch. All it took to convince those responsible that “Jackass” and 3D were a match made in heaven was (I imagine) a producers meeting after a visit to the set of “The Last Airbender,” plenty of Bolivian marching power and a bar tab with a total that looks like your undergrad fees.
Point is, “Jackass 3D” was a big test of the newest generation of 3D technology. It’s great that you can use 3D in combination with CGI to create fantastical worlds, but it’s better to use 3D to create a more immersive theater experience without relying on digital trickery. After watching the film, I can wholeheartedly say that I love the new 3D.
One of the draws of the “Jackass” franchise was the transparency of the filming. Camera operators and sound guys were visible in most shots, even if they weren’t actually a part of the action. The legacy of the early skateboarding videos remains, in the way that “Jackass” is about the documentation of the events as much as the events themselves. As the franchise’s popularity grew, there was a shift away from hi-jinks filmed in public and pranks on bystanders towards more elaborate, constructed sets and scenes filmed in controlled environments.
“Jackass 3D” is the endpoint. The only time Johnny Knoxville can go in public without people recognizing him is when he is wearing aging makeup and making out with his fake granddaughter. Two-thirds of the film is skits that were written and required production value. The other one-third is the pranks that the cast plays on each other during filming. However, the 3D presentation really makes you feel as if you were there. You get to feel like you’re part of the crew watching them film the movie. The psychological effect of the added dimension is subtle but pronounced; the screen becomes much more of a true window to the world and less of a trompe l’oeil.
“Jackass 3D” has been over 10 years in the making. The first two movies, the television show and even the CKY videos were all auditions and stepping stones to this feature. The ending sequence in “Jackass 3D” is made up of flashbacks to the CKY days. There is nostalgia for the good ‘ol days, sure, but the focus is on the now.
Steve-O may be two years sober but he’ll still drink a cup of whatever disgusting fluid you put in front of him. Even if Johnny Knoxville is turning 40 soon, he’s willing to take a bone-crushing hit like the two that Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings put on him. After watching somebody get kicked in the face in beautiful slow-motion 3D, with the way the nose shifts across the face and the cheeks ripple like a pond disturbed by wind… I just don’t think I can forget what I’ve seen. Quoth Jay-Z:
“When you’re used to filet mignon it’s kind of hard to go back to Hamburger Helper.” The opening credits, as well as several other scenes, were filmed using a Phantom high-speed converted for 3D. That’s nerdspeak for “most expensive movie-camera ever built.” I can do it no other justice than saying that it’s a visually stunning movie, and if this is the last hurrah for “Jackass” (and it probably will be unless Hollywood needs a vehicle to sell Smell-O-Vision to the world) they can say they’ve gone out with a bang.