Review: Jackass Number Two

The members of "Jackass" more or less called it quits after the debut of their 2002 feature film. Well, huge box office and the promise of profit participation have convinced them to regroup, so the pain marches on.

"Jackass Number Two" (IMDb listing) essentially furthers the exploits of the knuckleheads who run into walls, drink ejaculate, and harass each other mercilessly. The sequel is pretty much straight-forward daredevil sequences, only this time around everything has a self-aware glow to it that wasn't perceptible four years back.

If there's a theme to be found here, it would have to be bulls. Lots of bulls. Snakes are thrown into the mix as well, raining slithery danger down on our boys Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Ehren McGhehey, Preston Lacy, Jason "Wee Man" Acuna, Ryan Dunn, and Dave England. "Number Two" would like you to think the ante has been upped (there is much more genital trauma here than ever before), but the truth is that the film merely stresses the pain itself, rather than go-for-broke depictions of it.

The first film welcomed the viewer into a secret club of sharp frat-house nonsense. The sequel feels more like a studio trying to sell you a product at the supermarket. "Jackass! Now with more snakebites!"

That's not to say the picture isn't a complete hoot. Watching the team dust themselves off and head back into the face of stupidity is amusing, and leading the charge is Knoxville. After taking a more conservative role in the last film, Knoxville is starving for trouble this time, and he proudly stands out in front when the anacondas bite, the bulls charge, and the bear traps are just looking for a little attention. And he does it all with a weak-kneed, punch-drunk smile.

It's pretty much the Bam and Knoxville show for this installment, with many of the lesser names getting shoved to the background. I'm especially bummed that Chris Pontius, he of the infectious guttural giggle and global booty-shakin', is reduced to such a tiny role. His big moment of the movie is extraordinary -â€" let's just say that if you ever meet him, don't kiss him on the lips -â€" but his presence is missed throughout, and we are treated to only a cameo from our beloved Party Boy.

It's the stunts that seem oddly deflated in "Number Two." They punish the boys well enough with an assortment of rocket-powered grocery carts and wind machines, but since the success of the first film, along with the two spin-off shows "Viva La Bam," and the marvelous nature program "Wildboyz" (of which "Number Two" uses some footage to beef up Steve-O's role), inventive insanity is lacking ever so slightly from the shenanigans.

The fun of the first film was releasing this frequently censored MTV show loose in an R-rated wonderland to drum up more perverted heights of mischief. Unfortunately, "Number Two" doesn't strain any further than the customary assortment of feces and testicle humor. I wasn't expecting Merchant-Ivory leaps in integrity, but the bits here fail to build on what was accomplished in the first film, and that's disappointing. "Number Two" feels rushed and slapped together, made by a group that knows all too well now how to sell a joke to their target demographic.

Even as staleness sets in, "Number Two" still contains immense, grotesque laughs, and is an atypical film that clicks best with a large crowd of easily-sickened youth. Even if "Jackass" has grown from a tickle contest between a bunch of skateboarding fringe players to a multi-million dollar industry, there is something inherently riotous about watching a man get pubic hairs glued to his face. I'm not sure why, but it just is.

Filmfodder Grade: B

I actually enjoyed "Number Two" more than its predecessor. Whether it's watching Johnny Knoxville endure endless amounts of pain or seeing Steve-O chug a beer with his ass, "Number Two" is filled with tons of laughs that will leave you with sore abs by the time you leave your seat.

There's no doubt in my mind the Jackass crew will come together and endure more pain for yet another movie.

-- Posted by: Jason at September 24, 2006 7:47 PM