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Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

Jackass 3-D (Dir. Jeff Tremaine)

As much as I pride myself on my film snobbery, I’m an unabashed fan of the Jackass series and films.  I used to say to anyone who would question me, “well, it’s stupid fun, but I like it for some reason.”  Well, I no longer think of it as just “stupid fun.”  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the films are shining examples of witticism.  However, they are certainly more witty than people give them credit for.  The stunts that they pull are so absurd as to be almost brilliant, but what really gets me are the ad-libbed reactions that Johnny Knoxville or Chris Pontius will throw out there after a stunt, like, “oh man, that hurt to do that to you” after Pontius puts a fish hook in Steve-O’s cheek.

The key to any great comedy is to give us likable characters and put them in precarious situations where we care about the outcome.  Jackass has perfected this formula.  All of the guys in the films are inherently likable because they are 1) self-deprecating and 2) self-harming; we, as human beings, tend to have a soft spot for people who are self-deprecating and for those that will harm themselves for our benefit.  And we always care about the outcome of each of these insane stunts and it’s usually either 1) I hope he doesn’t die and/or get maimed or 2) I hope he doesn’t vomit.  What the films do that is somewhat revolutionary is take out the whole business about a plot and story.  But, the interesting thing is that over the course of the series and the films, we have certainly seen character growth and bonds.  And male bonding is really what the series has always been about; just getting together with your best buddies and doing dumb stunts in the hopes of making your pals laugh.

But enough trying to analyze the complexities of Jackass 3-D.  I went to the midnight showing with two of my best friends and we – like most people in the theater – had quite a few drinks beforehand (and during).  The crowd was wild, which was what I was hoping for when I decided to see the midnight showing.  This is truly one of those must-see theater experiences because it’s not the same watching the film at home, without hearing the crowd collectively go, “ohhhhhhhhh.”  I don’t necessarily know that the 3-D part of the film was warranted or that they truly take advantage of it outside of a few scenes at the beginning and end, but I will say that if you’re going to see this movie, then you are going to get exactly what you paid for and signed up for.

I will say that I don’t think the film is as strong as the first two installments.  Perhaps it’s a result of getting older (both myself and the crew) or perhaps it’s because there’s only so many new ways to put yourself at risk of death and disease, but the film didn’t make me laugh or cringe as much as the first two.  However, it’s still ridiculously funny and one of the best times I’ve had in a theater this year.  I don’t want to spoil the stunts for you, but I will say that I enjoyed the scene with Super Mighty Glue, the scene with the gorilla in April and Phil Margera’s hotel room, Bam’s “Rocky” re-enactments, the “Helicockter,” the scene where Wee-Man walks into a bar with his little person lady friend, the scene with Knoxville and the bull, Steve-O and Pontius playing “tee ball,” and a whole handful of others.  There were a few parts that fell flat, but the film moves so fast that we don’t have time to notice and nothing really made me gag, which is both a plus and a minus.  The sweat-suit cocktail, though, was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen and I mean that as the highest compliment.

Anyway, I’m surprised I was able to write 700 words about a film that is really all about the visceral.  And my visceral reaction to the movie was: very, very funny.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon