A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this entire film is a series of physically and emotionally abusive pranks and stunts. They're designed for laughs (and the cast members do frequently laugh at each other's pain and antics), but they're also often plainly harmful, producing blood, bruises, and burns. Violence includes falls, vehicle and body collisions, snake bites, charging bulls, and people being punched, hit, kicked, and crashing through glass. Nudity is also rampant, including shots of naked rear ends, male genitalia, and a naked woman. One player's mother appears in bed with a man who's not her husband (the joke is on her) -- she wears a nightdress, he's in his underpants. A man appears in old-lady drag, exposing "her" droopy breasts to passers-by, who are duly upset. Language includes relentless use of "f--k," as well as other obscenities. Some cigarette-smoking and beer-drinking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
JACKASS: NUMBER TWO opens with a running-with-the-bulls sequence that sends the movie's stars -- and the animals -- crashing through a suburban set's fake walls and windows. On one hand, the stunt compares the annual Pamplona spectacle and the Jackass spectacle, asking viewers to see the likeness between vaunted cultural traditions and this (debatable) "art" form. It also makes a comparison between the arts of movies and of violent stunts. Rendered in grandiose slow motion, the sequence parodies the way movies are supposed to work: You introduce your stars and the concept, and then you put them through some challenges, leading to education or evolution. In Jackass, everyone knows going in that the stunts are stupid and the effects painful. And so, the stars and the concept themselves become the challenges, and transformation and resolution are about as likely as anyone in the cast escaping without a hit to the crotch. Or so it seems. The trick of Jackass is that it's wholly conventional. For all the seeming outrageousness of the premise -- don't try these stunts at home, expect to be offended, you're watching professionals -- Number Two uses familiar, simple structure. The boys indulge in pain and pleasure, damaging themselves and each other because they can. By the time the finale rolls around -- a song and dance extravaganza complete with high-kicking girls, tuxedo T-shirts, and an homage to Buster Keaton -- viewers feel as exhausted as the players look, and as unsatisfied. The end is never the end. That said, the musical number points directly at the motto of the Jackass crew: This is the time of your life to have fun and do whatever makes you laugh. The lyrics are punctuated by over-the-top stunts in the background, pointing out the obvious and proactively acknowledging the guys' insanity before critics do.
Is it any good?
While you might wonder at the longevity of Johnny Knoxville's career or the continuing participation of Bam Margera's parents, the punk-rock appeal of Jackass is plain. Boys everywhere are supposedly thrilled by the guys' excess and the offense and their effort to undermine structure and upset adults ... and girls. It's no accident that the Jackass universe is male (save for the finale dancers, April Margera, Spike Jonze in drag, and a performer brought in by John Waters, Number Two is entirely populated by males).
The cast members' interest in their penises and bottoms is patently adolescent (their refusal to grow up constitutes much of the Jackass appeal). While it's frequently been termed homoerotic or even "gay," such interest here leads into a strangely broader set of observations about fear and threats as a cultural norm. Certainly, the guys offer up some familiar-seeming pranks that restate their childish delight in all things "doody." They repeatedly inflict injury on exposed bottoms, a repetition that makes the ostensible "transgression" quite ho-hum.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why this sort of physical abuse is considered comedy. What's funny about these extreme pranks and stunts? How does the guys' own laughter encourage viewers to laugh, too? What role did MTV play in helping make these one-time skater dudes famous? Is the rush from performing these silly, wacky, and outrageous stunts worth the trouble? Families can also discuss the difference between daring and bad taste. Where do you draw the line? And what about when other people are involved? What's the difference between playing a funny practical joke and being cruel?
- In theaters: September 22, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: December 26, 2006
- Cast: Bam Margera, Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O
- Director: Jeff Tremaine
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: for extremely crude and dangerous stunts throughout, sexual content, nudity and language.