Jackass Forever is a baptismal gauntlet of destruction, and their best film yet
Let’s take a second to revel in all that Jackass has accomplished. For three decades Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontious, Wee-Man, and countless other friends and guests have put their lives and dignity—if they had any to begin with—on the line.
22 years is a longer run than most pop-culture institutions. Jackass Forever, the fourth entry in the series, puts a button on that run with one of the best sequels ever made.
Watching Jackass Forever is like seeing an old friend again, for the first time in a long time. The familiar groove begins instantly with the classic opening musical twang and lasts until the final credits. Everyone’s favorite diehard “professional” stuntmen are back for their last hurrah, reinventing classic bits as a new crop of talented beings to take the reins from the aging stars.
The Jackass cultural universe doesn’t require an entry point since there’s no plot tying things together. It does, however, require you to be on its wavelength. After all, it’s just a series of escalating stunts and pranks of variable quality and length, ones as hilarious as they are cringe-inducing. Bookended by a couple of showstopping set pieces (including a sequence that mashes body puppetry and kaiju movies together), the rest of the movie is scattershot and chaotic, with pacing that never feels consistent.
This is just as it should be. If Knoxville does one thing perfectly, it is keeping the audience on its toes.
Half the people involved this time are newcomers, each with their unique personalities and quirks. Rachel Wolfson is the fearless first female to join the gang. Jasper, Eric Manaka, Zach Holmes, and Sean “Poopies” McInerney round out the new squad, each facing down a baptismal gauntlet of destruction.
Knoxville and his returning pals are the bad-influence elder statesmen. Hearing the now silver-haired Knoxville note that a few of the crew are in or near their 50’s feels jarring, and that statement is made more so when we see how long it takes some of them to recover from the blows they receive. There’s something that hits different—quite literally—about watching these less than spry weirdos build up the courage to tackle these nightmares for our enjoyment, one last time.
Jackass Forever works on a primordial and visceral level. Its sole purpose is to make us laugh and forget our own troubles by way of catharsis. That’s exactly what a lot of people need right now. If you’re ok with watching a grown man named Poopies attempting to silently kiss a venomous snake, all for the sake of entertainment, then this is the medicine you’ve been searching for.