The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Come hither thou wayward prankster: Jackass 2

There’s almost no form of media that has made me laugh as consistently over the years then the “Jackass” franchise. Johnny Knoxville and his gang of madmen have been simultaneously cracking up and disturbing audiences for the better part of the last 25 years. Here’s why you should watch Jeff Termain’s 2006 chaotic Magnum Opus: “Jackass 2.”

The best moment in “Jackass 2,” or at least the craziest, is a simple but devastating stunt known fittingly as “The Toro Totter.” The stunt involves Johnny Knoxville, along with three other recurring members of the Jackass franchise sitting on a massive seesaw. There’s a twist: a massive bull is released into the pen where the seesaw is located and charges at the now terrified participants. The stunt, equal parts hilarious and heart-pounding, encapsulates the essence of “Jackass 2.” Is it safe? Probably not. Is it smart, no, but it does make you feel alive. 

A Jackass movie consists of no narrative, no character development, and no other classic features of a Hollywood blockbuster. Jackass movies, simply put, are an hour and forty minutes of mind-blowing, stomach-churning pranks and stunts. The recurring cast led by Johnny Knoxville risks life, limb and even genitalia with a single goal in mind: to get a laugh. Through flying porta potties, giant hands smacking Bam Margera and fake kidnappings, Knoxville and his band of misfits stumbled into a franchise worth more than 500 million dollars. 

So what makes “Jackass 2” particularly great? 

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Well truthfully, your favorite Jackass movie is truly a matter of personal preference. “Jackass 2” is certainly the most deranged film of the franchise, with stunts that really toe the line between comedy and, frankly, sadism. Between fits of laughter, you can’t help but worry that Knoxville might not get up this time. “Jackass 2” draws out a range of emotions that you wouldn’t expect from a film with a scene called Anaconda Ball Pit; it’s almost inebriating in the sense that from the moment the film starts to the moment it ends, you’re in a constant state of howling laughter, fear or even disgust. You will feel an intense emotion for the entirety of the film, that much I can promise.

Another thing “Jackass 2” has going for it is that we’ve been around the characters for a while now. Half of the fun of the Jackass franchise is watching the crew’s reactions to them and their friends undergoing death-defying stunts. The fact that, as an audience, we’ve spent years getting to this point with the Jackass crew makes them all the more endearing and entertaining. We know what stunts make each character genuinely scared for their friend, we know what stunts and pranks they find funny and by the time the credits roll, you feel as though you, too, are part of the Jackass crew.

“Jackass 2” also is quite a feat in ingenious filmmaking. The franchise’s popularity spawned numerous imitations, yet none come close to replicating the raw and rugged skateboarding video style of pranks and stunts that Spike Jonze, Jackass’s longtime cinematographer, expertly captures. Every prank or stunt in Jackass seems meticulously shot from the ideal, most comedic angle. Jonze consistently positions himself perfectly, capturing footage that elevates already hilarious stunts to new levels of frenetic energy.

There’s a temptation to analyze a Jackass film as something more than it aims to be. It has been looked at as a case study of masculinity in the 21st century, a forefather to YouTube, and even analyzed as the natural successor to the physical comedy of, say, Charlie Chaplin. I’m open to those ideas as a possibility, but to me, “Jackass 2” embodies that youthful moment when a friend dares you to do something reckless—like riding your bike down the stairs. In that split second, most would hesitate, but not Johnny Knoxville. He’s already halfway down, and I’m in the front row, eagerly watching the chaos unfold.

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