Review: ‘Jackass Forever,’ starring Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, ‘Danger’ Ehren McGhehey, Chris Pontius, Jason ‘Wee Man’ Acuña, Sean ‘Poopies’ McInerney and Zach Holmes

February 4, 2022

by Carla Hay

Danger Ehren and Johnny Knoxville in “Jackass Forever” (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures and MTV Entertainment Studios)

“Jackass Forever”

Directed by Jeff Tremaine

Culture Representation: Taking place in the Los Angeles area, the comedy film “Jackass Forever” features a cast of predominantly white people (with some African Americans) performing physically painful stunts, as well as playing pranks on each other and some unsuspecting people.

Culture Clash: This group of comedic pranksters push themselves to the limit in how far they will go to get laughs, even if some members of the group object to how dangerous these stunts can be.

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of fans of MTV’s “Jackass” TV series, “Jackass Forever” will appeal mainly to people who are interested in movies where adults engage in a lot of cringe-inducing antics.

Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Steve-O, Dark Shark, Dave England, Zach Holmes, Eric Manaka, Jasper, Sean “Poopies” McInerney, and Danger Ehren in “Jackass Forever” (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures and MTV Entertainment Studios)

“Jackass Forever” delivers everything you’d expect it to deliver to “Jackass” fans: a compilation of gross-out comedy stunts and silly pranks. The movie doesn’t try to pretend to be anything else, although some parts of the movie are unnecessary filler. “Jackass Forever” reunites many of the original cast members of MTV’s “Jackass” reality TV series, which was on the air from 2000 to 2002, and spawned many spinoff series and movies.

“Jackass” was created by Johnny Knoxville (the franchise’s biggest star and on-screen ringleader), Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jonze. Knoxville, Tremaine and Jonze are producers of “Jackass Forever,” while Tremaine is the movie’s director. Jonze and Tremaine make brief on-camera appearances in “Jackass Forever.”

If you’re easily offended by movies that have numerous scenes talking about and showing naked male genitalia and bodily functions, then “Jackass Forever” should be avoided. However, people who can tolerate this type of comedy will find something to laugh at in “Jackass Forever.” Almost everyone seeing this movie will have some kind of awareness that anything with the “Jackass” franchise name on it will have crude and sometimes nauseating comedy. Pity any uptight person who sees this movie and is completely clueless beforehand on what to expect.

In “Jackass Forever,” Knoxville is joined by other members of the original “Jackass” cast: Steve-O (whose real name is Stephen Glover), Chris Pontius, Dave England, “Danger” Ehren McGhehey, Preston Lacy and Jason “Wee Man” Acuña. Original “Jackass” cast member Ryan Dunn died in a car accident in 2011, at the age of 34. (“Jackass Forever” flashes a brief tribute to him during the end credits.)

Bam Margera, another original “Jackass” cast member, was set to be in “Jackass Forever,” but he was reportedly fired after failing a drug test. (He tested positive for Adderall.) Margera has since had disputes with the “Jackass” team, and Tremaine filed a restraining order against Margera. “Jackass Forever” has some archival footage of “Jackass” where Margera can briefly be seen. Margera is not in any of the new footage that’s in “Jackass Forever.”

Also part of the “Jackass Forever” on-screen team are Sean “Poopies” McInerney (a self-described “Jackass” superfan) and Zach Holmes. The large sizes of Holmes and Lacy are used in a “Triple Wedgie” challenge with Wee Man, who happens to be a little person. Holmes, Lacy and Wee Man are wearing white mawashi-styled (sumo wrestler) loincloth in this wedgie challenge. It’s a scene in “Jackass Forever” that might offend some people who think body sizes are being exploited and ridiculed in this scene.

“Jackass Forever” has made some attempt to bring more diversity to the “Jackass” on-screen team. There’s a token female: Rachel Wolfson, the only woman who’s part of this prankster group. She actually has more stamina than many of the men in the group, who scream in terror at things that Wolfson can endure with silent aplomb. And there are some African Americans who are new to the “Jackass” franchise: Eric Manaka and Jasper (no last name) are both presented as part of the main group too. Jasper gets the most screen time out of all three of them.

“Jackass Forever” also has some celebrity cameos, with the unsuspecting celebs getting pranked. Musician/actor Machine Gun Kelly (also known as Colson Baker) gets sucker punched into a swimming pool in a stunt with Steve-O involving a stationary bicycle challenge and giant toy hands. Comedian/actor Eric André also gets blindsided: He’s hit with a giant tube-shaped balloon that bursts out of a beverage truck where André thinks he’s getting a free cup of coffee. Hip-hop music artist Tyler, the Creator is a pianist in a skit where he plays music while members of the “Jackass” team wear tuxedos and dance on a floor that gives electroshocks through the floor. Tyler, the Creator doesn’t escape these electroshocks either.

“Jackass Forever” has some stunts that are somewhat boring and over-used, compared to others. There’s a high-flying stunt with members of the group doing BMX riding on a “human ramp,” with the expected bike crashes and falls that ensue. Another stunt shows some members of the “Jackass” group dressed up as a marching band, and they walk on a treadmill, which predictably results in more tumbles and bruises. Knoxville catapults a soccer ball at Steve-O when he comes out of a production trailer on the movie set.

And there are explosions galore. Steve-O is using a porta potty when it explodes on him. In the movie’s opening sequence, another porta potty explodes on him, with feces (or something that looks like feces) flying everywhere and splattered all over Steve-O. In another scene, Knoxville, dressed as Icarus, explodes himself out of a cannon. Knoxville comments on this cannonball experience: “It feels like a 200-pound colonic up my ass!” And the movie ends with different types of explosions, involving vomiting on a Tilt-A-Whirl and being attacked by paintball gun attacks.

In one of the funniest scenes, England portrays a potential customer at a fake yard sale on someone’s front lawn. Unbeknownst to the people browsing at this yard sale, there’s a toilet “for sale” that’s been rigged to explode. First, England sits on the toilet as if to use it, while unsuspecting people look on in shock and disgust. No sooner does he sit on the toilet, then it explodes, as people react with horror. It’s a stunt that “Jackass” has done before. “Jackass Forever” features some other recycled stunts, with a select number of the original stunts shown in archival footage.

And speaking of doing “Candid Camera”-type of pranks on unsuspecting people outside of the group, “Jackass” has a few more. One of these pranks is when Knoxville reprises his disguised persona as an elderly grouch named Irv Zisman. As Irv, he goes into a furniture store with Wolfson (who plays Irv’s granddaughter), while Holmes pretends to be another customer. Holmes then falls from the second floor of the store and crashes into a piece of furniture that catapults Knoxville up like a cannon and causes Knoxville to crash through a ceiling.

Some of the most memorable stunts tap into the biggest fears that the “Jackass” team members have: damage to genitalia and being trapped somewhere with a wild animal that can cause bodily harm. Steve-O volunteers to have his naked genitals covered in bees. Lacy puts his genitals in a hole in a box and gets the genitals pummelled by mechanical fists.

Pontius encloses his penis in a ping-pong paddle device and “plays” with himself. (Use your imagination.) Wolfson says to him: “You’ll never be president [of the United States].” Poopies then jokes, “You never know. I’d vote for him.”

Danger Ehren endures the notorious Cup Test, where he wears a plastic cup guard over his genitals, but still voluntarily undergoes assaults to his groin area. His genitals are subjected to hard punches from mixed-martial-arts heavyweight Francis Ngannu; torpedo-like softball pitches from softball player Erin O’Toole; a hockey puck whacked by hockey player P.K. Subban; and pogo stick jumping from Poopies.

Animals that can kill humans are brought into the mix to bring on more terror. (In most cases, an animal trainer is nearby to prevent things from getting out of control.) Wolfson undergoes a “Scorpion Botox” challenge, where she has to let a scorpion bite her on the lip more than once. Poopies, England, Danger Ehren and Holmes are set up in “The Silence of the Lambs” challenge, where they are put in a dark room with a poisonous snake on the loose. In another stunt, Poopies loses a “mime” challenge and has to kiss a rattlesnake, which does exactly what you think it will do.

Jasper’s father—who goes by the nickname Dark Shark and is a self-described former gang banger—is recruited as a guest “Jackass” team participant. Dark Shark literally faces off against Danger Ehren in a challenge involving them wearing astronaut-sized glass helmets connected by a long tube. A large spider is then dropped into the tube, as Dark Shark and Danger Ehren frantically try to get the spider to go to the other person’s side of the tube and into the other person’s helmet. Later, Danger Ehren has the spider bite him on a nipple. Someone quips about the spider bite swelling the nipple: “Ehren went from a [bra size] AAA to a B.”

And there are two separate stunts involving “Jackass” guys being tied up and used as food bait for wild animals. The first of these stunts that’s shown in the movie is with a brown bear that is let loose in a room with Danger Ehren, who has honey and salmon poured all over his crotch. In the other stunt, Wee Man is tied up outdoors, with meat placed on him for a vulture to eat. Dark Shark is goaded into letting the vulture on his arm, and he shrieks that the vulture is biting him, when the vulture actually isn’t. Jasper than mutters on camera that he’s embarrassed by his father at that moment.

And it should come as no surprise that “Jackass Forever” uses semen (human and non-human) as part of the shenanigans. The movie’s opening sequence is a scripted scenario where members of the “Jackass” team are making a “monster on the loose” disaster movie, using miniature sets made to look like New York City. Pontius’ genitalia is used as a penis-sized dragon puppet running amok on the streets. You can guess that this dragon doesn’t spout fire but instead spouts something else on people. There’s another part of the movie where an unsuspecting England gets buckets of pig semen dumped on him. “I’m a vegetarian!” he says in disgust after finding out what was dumped on him, while everyone nearby laughs.

Even though “Jackass Forever” has a lot of high-risk stunts and pranks, a few of the stunts are tedious and weren’t worth putting in the movie. In one set-up, Knoxville instructs Wee Man to catch the much-larger and much-heavier Lacy and hold Lacy up in the air above his head, just like the famous dance move that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey did near the end of “Dirty Dancing.” But this “Dirty Dancing” stunt never happened, because Lacy announces that he defecated on himself and pulls down his pants to prove it. (At least he gave enough advance warning, so viewers can look away.)

The anal fixation continues in a stunt where Steve-O is in a water tank, with the idea that he will fart underwater, and a methane-filled device nearby will cause an explosion. But apparently, the “Jackass” people don’t know basic chemistry about gas and water mixing, because this “experiment” doesn’t work until they bring in a methane blowtorch to force an explosion. It’s a stunt that’s ill-conceived and looks more like a clumsy outtake than something that deserved to be in the movie.

Don’t expect “Jackass” to show anything about the individual personal lives of these stunt/prank daredevils. Most of their personalities are indistinguishable from each other. Exceptions are obvious group leader Knoxville (who carries around a small taser that he uses to randomly zap people on the “Jackass” team) and Steve-O, who has long had the reputation of being the “craziest” of the “Jackass” team. Steve-O is the one most likely to laugh at himself and others during the most insane moments.

Out of everyone in the group, Danger Ehren gets the most methods of “torture” inflicted on him in “Jackass Forever,” by doing the most dangerous and nerve-wracking stunts that leave him bloodied and bruised. Knoxville does even more damage to himself, but from one stunt: While recreating a previous “Jackass” stunt where he tries to be like a bull matador in a pen with an angry bull, Knoxville (dressed as a magician) gets knocked out by a charging bull. He’s then shown being carried out on a stretcher, and then later getting out of a hospital. After being discharged from the hospital, Knoxville tells the camera that his bull-charging injuries were a broken wrist, a broken rib and a concussion.

As a disclaimer, “Jackass Forever” has warnings before and after the movie that all of the stunts were performed by professionals and shouldn’t be attempted by anyone else. It’s kind of a “covering our asses legally” façade though, because everyone knows that “Jackass” has inspired an entire industry of daredevil (mostly male) pranksters who want to be stars on social media for doing idiotic things that could cause bodily harm. As dopey and reckless as the “Jackass” franchise can be, if the purpose is to make people laugh, then “Jackass Forever” fulfills that purpose, although some people might laugh more than others.

Paramount Pictures released “Jackass Forever” in U.S. cinemas on February 4, 2022.

Review: ‘Beastie Boys Story,’ starring Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond

April 24, 2020

by Carla Hay

An archival photo of the Beastie Boys in “Beastie Boys Story.” Pictured from left to right: Mike “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz. (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

“Beastie Boys Story”

Directed by Spike Jonze

Culture Representation: This Beastie Boys documentary is a recording of a storytelling, multimedia stage presentation in the group’s hometown of New York City, with surviving Beastie Boys members Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond as the narrators telling the story of how the Beastie Boys became the first white rappers to have massive crossover success.

Culture Clash: The highs and lows of the Beastie Boys’ career included experimental music that went against what was popular at the time; bitter legal disputes over unpaid royalties; and fighting stereotypes of their early image as mindless “party boys.”

Culture Audience: Aside from the group’s die-hard fans, “Beastie Boys Story” will appeal mostly to people who are nostalgic about rock-infused hip-hop music from the late 1980s and 1990s, when the Beastie Boys were at their peak.

Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond in “Beastie Boys Story” (Photo courtesy of Apple TV+)

In October and November 2018, Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond—the surviving members of the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum hip-hop /rock trio Beastie Boys—did a brief theater tour that was a multimedia, live presentation of their bestselling, critically acclaimed 2018 memoir “Beastie Boys Book.” The tour (which visited New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and London) was then extended to three additional shows in April 2019, in Philadelphia and New York City. Footage from the tour’s last stop at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn is the basis of this documentary, directed by longtime Beastie Boys collaborator Spike Jonze.

The Beastie Boys no longer exist as a group, since founding member Adam Yauch (also known as MCA) tragically died of cancer in 2012, at the age of 47. Horovitz (also known as Ad-Rock) and Diamond (also known as Mike D) dedicated the book and the tour to Yauch, who is lovingly and respectfully remembered. The documentary is essentially Horovitz and Diamond standing on stage, reading “Beastie Boys Book” excerpts in chronological order from a teleprompter, while archival photos and videos play on a big screen in the background.

Under other circumstances and with the wrong people, it could have been an awfully dull or pretentious stage show. But the entire show, as presented in this nearly two-hour documentary, is humorous, emotionally moving and overall an entertaining ride. The show also pokes fun at the fact that Horovitz and Diamond are reading from a teleprompter.

And there are a few segments when director Jonze can be heard on a loudspeaker, interrupting the show to say that he’s not going to play a videoclip or he messed up and missed a video cue. Some of these “mistakes” could have been staged (it sure seems that way), but even if these “flubs” were pre-planned, it achieved the intended result: to make the audience laugh.

People who don’t care about the Beastie Boys’ music can find something to like in this movie, whether it’s the candid way that Horovitz and Diamond admit that fame went to all of their heads when the Beastie Boys’ first album (1986’s “License to Ill”) was a smash hit, or the vivid descriptions of the group’s evolution from being bratty party boys to mature musicians who now cringe at the sexist lyrics they had in their early songs.

Yauch is described as the leader of the Beastie Boys, a group he co-founded in New York City in 1981. He was the one who took the most creative risks and the one who was the most likely to encourage other people to also push boundaries and explore new skills and interests. Diamond was viewed as the biggest “clown” in the group, and he admits that he spent much of the Beastie Boys’ heyday in a haze of drug abuse. Horovitz was often perceived as the “cool heartthrob” of the Beastie Boys, and he’s definitely more dominant than Diamond during the stage show. However, Horovitz also reveals a vulnerable side—he gets so tearful and emotional when talking about the Beastie Boys’ last concert with Yauch that he asks Diamond to finish what Horovitz was supposed to say on the teleprompter.

People unfamiliar with the history of the Beastie Boys might be surprised to find out that the group’s original lineup included drummer Kate Schellenbach, a friend from their teen years. Schellenbach would later become the drummer for the all-female rock band Luscious Jackson, whose lead singer Jill Cunniff was also a teenage friend of the Beastie Boys members. Horovitz expresses regret about Schellenbach being ousted from the Beastie Boys when the group decided to change its image to being full-on “bad boys,” in order to get a record deal.

“Licensed to Ill” was released on Def Jam Records, which was co-founded by Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons. Rubin was the group’s producer, while Simmons managed the Beastie Boys. At the time, Beastie Boys idolized Run-DMC, the pioneering rap trio that was signed to Def Jam and was also managed by Simmons. Rubin and Simmons saw an opportunity to market to the masses a white, “bad boy” version of Run-DMC. It worked. “Licensed to Ill” became one of the biggest-selling debut albums of all time (it’s sold 10 million copies in the U.S.), spawning the breakthrough crossover hit “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party),” which remains the Beastie Boys’ most famous song.

Within two years, the Beastie Boys went from being the opening act for Madonna (a gig they got only because Madonna’s manager thought Run-DMC’s asking fee was too high) and the opening act for Run-DMC to headlining their own arena concerts. By the time the Beastie Boys were ready to make their second album in 1988, they had severed ties with Def Jam’s Simmons and Rubin over unpaid royalties and started over with a new multi-album deal with Capitol Records.

The Beastie Boys were also burned out from constant touring, and they took time apart from each other, which is when Horovitz moved to Los Angeles and started a fledgling acting career. Part of the documentary includes a self-deprecating look at Horovitz’s feature-film acting debut with his starring role in the 1989 dramatic movie “Lost Angels.” Yauch and Diamond also soon relocated to Los Angeles. Horovitz confesses that during this period of time, “I continued to run away from everything I was feeling” to escape from the grief of personal issues, such as his mother’s death from cancer in 1983.

But because the Beastie Boys had experienced fame and fortune so quickly, they went overboard in spending money on that second album, 1989’s “Paul’s Boutique.” They rented a high-priced house in the Hollywood Hills, indulged in a lot of expensive studio time, and partied too much. The house was owned by showbiz couple Alex and Marilyn Grasshoff, whose closet was raided by the Beastie Boys and inspired the 1970s fashion in the Beastie Boys videos for “Paul’s Boutique.”

The “Paul’s Boutique” album was a flop when it was first released, and the Beastie Boys went from headlining arenas for their first album to performing at nightclubs for their second album. It was a humbling experience that would’ve broken a lot of bands, but it just strengthened the Beastie Boys. They began to value the importance of staying true to their creative vision and not listening to other people telling them who they should be. The sample-heavy and richly layered “Paul’s Boutique” is now an influential hip-hop classic that has gone multiplatinum.

The Beastie Boys further evolved, by relying less on sampled music and creating their own sounds, playing their own instruments, and starting to sing more on their songs. The result was 1992’s “Check Your Head” album (featuring the MTV psychedelic hit “So What’cha Want”), which further solidified the Beastie Boys as a group that could easily blur the boundaries between hip-hop and rock.  Diamond says, “It wasn’t until the end of the ‘Check Your Head’ tour that I actually, confidently considered myself to be a musician.”

The group’s biggest comeback came with 1994’s “Ill Communication” album, which featured the hit “Sabotage” and a popular ’70s-inspired police detective chase video for “Sabotage” that was directed by Jonze. The “Sabotage” video was nominated for five MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year, and the song received a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance.

By the mid-1990s, the Beastie Boys had relocated back to New York City, after the tragic overdose death of their close friend Dave Scilken in 1991. The group had also started a record label (Grand Royal), and Yauch had directed several Beastie Boys videos under the alias Nathanial Hörnblowér, a fictional Swiss persona who wore traditional Swiss clothing and campy disguises. The documentary includes footage from the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards, when Yauch (dressed as Nathanial Hörnblowér) crashed the stage and did a protest interruption when R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” won the award for Breakthrough Video over the Beastie Boys’ “Sabatoge.” Unlike Kayne West’s MTV VMA stage bumrush of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009, this Yauch/Hörnblowér interruption was all in good fun and intended to be comedic.

Yauch also became deeply involved in social issues, such as Tibetan freedom rights. His spearheading of the Tibetan Freedom Concert, which was an annual event that began in 1996, is fondly remembered in the documentary. (In 2008, Yauch also co-founded the independent film/music company Oscilloscope Laboratories, which is not mentioned in the documentary.) Horovitz describes Yauch as a “once-in-a-lifetime friend,” while Diamond says that as close as Yauch was to his bandmates, he still remained a “conundrum” and a “contradiction” because he was so unpredictable.

The Beastie Boys’ 1998 album “Hello Nasty” is cited as one of the group’s favorites. The album spawned the hit  “Intergalactic,” which has a Nathanial Hörnblowér-directed video that parodied Japanese Super Sentai shows. (The “Intergalactic” video is shown during the documentary’s end credits.) The “Hello Nasty” album was a another smash hit for the Beastie Boys, and it resulted in them winning their first two Grammy Awards: Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group (for “Intergalactic”) and Best Alternative Music Album.

“Intergalactic” also won Best Hip-Hop Video at the 1999 MTV VMAs, which honored the Beastie Boys in 1998 with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Although the Beastie Boys released three more studio albums after “Hello Nasty,” these albums—2004’s “To the 5 Boroughs,” 2007’s “The Mix-Up” and 2011’s “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two”—get hardly any screen time in the documentary, compared to the previous albums. It’s probably because the filmmakers know that the Beastie Boys’ most popular music was from the 1980s and 1990s.

The documentary also shows Horovitz and Diamond giving credit and showing appreciation to several of the collaborators and colleagues that the Beastie Boys had along the way, including Schellenbach, the late John Berry (who was an original guitarist for Beastie Boys), manager Paul Silva, songwriter/musician Money Mark and producers Mario Caldato Jr. (also known as Mario C.), Matt Dike and the Dust Brothers.

People who’ve already read “Beastie Boys Book” won’t discover anything new by seeing this documentary. There’s no behind-the-scenes footage of the book tour, other than a brief montage in the beginning of the movie that shows fans waiting outside the theater and talking about who’s their favorite Beastie Boys member. And there appears to be not much ad-libbing or spontaneity during the show or interaction with the audience.

The only exception to audience interaction is outtake footage in the middle of the end credits that shows Ben Stiller, David Cross and Steve Buscemi standing up in the audience, and interrupting the show with comedic scripted dialogue when Horovitz and Diamond talk about “Paul’s Boutique” flopping. These scenes, which were obviously filmed at different performances, are better off as outtakes, since they don’t fit the flow of the rest of the show.

However, the documentary overall doesn’t rely on a lot of gimmicks. Only a few props are used on stage, such as a giant reel-to-reel tape recorder that’s brought out when a story is told about how Beastie Boys first discovered layered sampling in the recording studio. And there aren’t too many distracting cutaway shots to the audience. (This is not a kid-friendly movie though, since there’s a lot of cursing throughout the entire documentary.)

“Beastie Boys Story” is a well-edited and engaging visual capsule of the group’s history. At the very least, this documentary might make people curious to check out more of their music or to read “Beastie Boys Book” to get a deeper dive into more of the group’s fascinating stories.

Apple TV+ premiered “Beastie Boys Story” on April 24, 2020.

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