Directed by: Jeff Tremaine
Distributed by: Netflix
Written by Alexander Reams
(Jackass Forever: 98/100)
I was fairly unfamiliar with the “Jackass” franchise prior to the cinematic classic known as “Jackass Forever” being released early this year. I have vague memories of seeing the poster for “Jackass 3-D” displayed at my local movie theater and wondering what exactly is “Jackass” and why would anyone call themselves that. Jump forward 12 years and I had now become very familiar (to the point of watching one of their movies every week) with this group of maniacs that somehow kept me wanting more. No matter how many times Danger Ehren gets hit in the nuts or Chris Pontius nearly mutilates his genitals for the sake of comedy, I’m continuously left wanting to see more of this crew, and while the stunt work and physical comedy on display are some of the best in the industry, it’s about the care and love that this group has for one another. Even with the addition of new members Rachel Wolfson, Zach Holmes, Jasper Dolphin, Sean “Poopies” McInerney, and Eric Manaka, the care and love is extended to them as well, and I would go as far as saying that even after “Forever”, they are as much Jackass as Steve-O and Knoxville.
Before I jump into “Jackass 4.5” a bit of history and thoughts on “Jackass: Forever”. I still remember all the way back in early February when I saw “Forever”, I had a small idea of what to expect but by the end of the opening sequence (beautifully reminiscent of Kaiju and Gojira films from Japan), I knew I had no actual idea of what to expect, and while “4.5” is an extension of “Forever”, “4.5” stands on its own feet. “Forever” is its own animal, it reminisces on the past, but it’s more focused on what hit Ehren will take, and what animal Knoxville is getting in the ring with, but “Forever” and “4.5” have two missing parts, Bam Margera (who was fired during the production of “Forever” and “4.5”) and Ryan Dunn (who died in 2011), and while this is not a criticism, their presence is missed, I miss Dunn and I miss Bam, their friendship became one of my favorite aspects of the entire franchise, and their bit “The Brand” from “Jackass: Number Two” is in the running for the crew’s best bit ever.
“Jackass 4.5” continues the trend of the eponymous franchise by releasing a “0.5” version of the film which includes more interviews and stunts that didn’t make it into the final cut. This trend began with “Jackass: Number Two” and has (thankfully) continued throughout the rest of the series. The biggest surprise is that the “0.5” sequels are usually on par with their theatrical counterparts, not just scraps plucked up off of the cutting room floor, it’s cohesive and provides an interesting insight into the minds of people who damage their bodies for our enjoyment. “4.5” does manage to set itself apart from the previous “0.5” installments, with more interviews, and more reflection, particularly for the original members. It has been widely publicized that this will be Knoxville’s last ride as the captain, and while it might be unclear for some whether any other original members will continue, after seeing “Forever” and “4.5” back to back, I’d be hard-pressed to find one of them that would come back, the entire crew pushes themselves to the limit, from the iconic “Magic Trick” in “Forever” to “Ballknocker” in “4.5”.
One of the most beautiful moments from 4.5 is in the “Ballknocker” stunt, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña is hit from both sides by Zach Holmes and Preston Lacy and is visibly hurt after the stunt and Lacy immediately jumps in and breaks character, not referring to him as “Wee Man” but Jason, he keeps asking Jason to speak and he has a genuine concern for him, it’s very similar to the golf cart stunt in “Jackass: The Movie” when Knoxville is hurt and immediately no laughs hit and we see people running at him to help, and at the end of the day these guys (and gals) care about each other and while they have fun, they’re a family, and that is felt throughout all the films, most of all this one, filled with reflection, amazement (particularly Poopies, whose energy is electric throughout), and fun, especially in a time where fun seems to be in short supply.