It’s been nearly 12 years since Jackass 3D hit theaters in 2010, and since that time the comedy genre has gone through different phases of popularity and styles – seemingly moving past the simple pleasures of the Jackass franchise. But even after all this time, there is something so incredibly universally fun about watching a bunch of friends get together to act like absolute idiots together – because seeing Jackass Forever with a sold-out crowd is the kind of cathartic, back to the movies! experience that we all sorely need right now that reminds you just how great it is to have an outrageous, hilarious, communal experience. It’s just about the hardest I’ve laughed at any kind of medium in a very long time. I’m not going to sit here and say that this is one of the best films of all-time, but in terms of what Forever is trying to accomplish… it does a pretty perfect job at delivering exactly what you want from a fourth Jackass film.
Even if you happen to stumble into a showing of Jackass Forever that isn’t full of fans of the franchise rolling over in stitches at every outrageous prank and stunt being presented or you happen to find yourself watching it at home after its theatrical release, the film is genuinely a technical marvel. From a stylistic point of view, this is easily the best looking film of the whole franchise with a somehow simultaneously disgusting and gorgeous opening sequence that I won’t dare spoil in this review. And while many people were skeptical about seeing this cast returning to the franchise at their age, there is something really unique about seeing all these guys do just as gnarly stunts as they did twenty years ago. There is much more of a vulnerability with the entire OG-crew this time around, but it just makes the payoff of the stunts all the more rewarding and hilarious as an audience member.
One thing that I was worried about going in was the fact that the film is introducing newer faces this time around. I’m not necessarily opposed to the idea of a younger cast being passed the torch due to the age of the original cast members, but it’s really hard to have anyone match Johnny Knoxville’s charisma or the absolute relentlessness of the rest of the cast. But to my surprise, the newer faces add a lot of charm to this entry – if the older cast members are more vulnerable in terms of physicality and aging this time around, it’s nice to have youngsters there to both express how much they love the franchise and dreamed of being part of it.. but also have them be totally susceptible to all the tricks that Knoxville and co. have up their sleeves.
All around, I truly think this is the best Jackass film thus far. While the other entries might have individual stunts that are more instantly iconic and crazier, this is the best full-package of all four films in terms of both the craziness of the stunts and the overall momentum and pacing of it as a film. There were so many moments throughout where I was nearly on the edge of tears because I was laughing so hard, and with just about every studio comedy being sent to streaming here lately, it was weirdly touching to see these guys get back together and do the same thing that made us fall in love with them in the first place. An absolute master-class of ill-advised ideas and old friends getting together to make each other laugh. It’s absolutely cathartic and strangely beautiful.