I’m still in the state of mind that you get over the Christmas break, where you see a movie that’s playing on TV in the middle of the day, and think “Eh, sure, I’d watch all of Miss Congeniality right now”, as you eat the last of the stale cheese and crackers. Which is how I ended up watching Jackass: The Movie this weekend.
It’s almost more of a cultural artefact than it is a film. Arguably, when your child asks you “Papa/mama, what were the early 2000s like?” you could do worse than showing them Jackass, with no further explanation. And from this I became very interested in the history of Jackass, and discovered that there was a PS2 era video game called Jackass: The Game.
If you’ve never encountered it, Jackass was a TV show on MTV that aired for three series, starting around 2001, in which a bunch of 20-something men did things like putting a beehive in a limo, or hitting each other in the dick with things. Think of it as one of the precursors to those extremely annoying YouTube prank videos.
It never came to PC, but the game is available in its entirety via a YouTube long play. It opens with Johnny Knoxville (whose real name, I discovered in the course of reading his Wikipedia article, is Philip Clapp) telling you that Jeff Tremaine “sprained his vagina” – strangely, pronounced almost as if it’s spelt with an -er and not an -a – and that you will have to complete the production of the new series of Jackass.
So what it is, is a series of stunts as mini-games, called things like “pachinko precipice” and “extreme juggling”, which you complete to get enough footage for seven new episodes of the show. There are several where you slalom on a wakeboard through downtown or suburban streets. You get more points/money for impressive injuries. There’s a rhythm game for Chris Pontius’s Party Boy dancing. Extreme juggling is just juggling, but in an alley full of rubbish.
Interesting thing number one about Jackass: The Game, is that it came out in 2007, which is roughly around the time of the Jackass Number Two movie, but after what I would think of as the Jackass heyday. I can’t imagine the sort of person who was clamouring for a Jackass video game in 2007 and frankly I do not want to.
The second interesting thing is that almost all the cast provide their voice and likeness to the game, apart from Bam because of his commitments to Acting, and it is unsettling. Johnny Knoxville in particular looks like an origami model of a totally different man, and it is haunting. Steve-O’s voice during stunts seems strangely high-pitched. Some of the lines (particularly the voice messages left by Tremaine) are so phoned in you can imagine the haggard face of the hungover man in the booth as he performed.
But they also all provided mocap! There’s a little featurette about it and everything (which also includes some of said recording sessions).
I think this reveals how much they over-egged the pain pudding on the actual show and films. They’re all able to scream, just, on demand.
Jackass: The Game has a 58% rating on Metacritic for PS2. The DS version has 35%, because Ninty critics are more discerning.
In the course of this, I also found out that they’re making a new Jackass movie, slated to come out this very year. This is incredible to me not only because you clearly couldn’t do a lot of the stuff from Jackass now without comment (see: the reception Logan Paul got for behaving like a dickhole in Japan in 2017, vs. the jackasses doing so for Jackass: The Movie in 2002) but also because these men are all middle aged now. They’re like, pushing 50, and many of them have families with children called things like Axe and Wool. This will clearly be a disaster. The shot/chaser proving this is already on the Jackass 4 wiki page:
“Filming commenced on December 14, 2020. On December 15, 2020, Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O were hospitalized due to on-set injuries.”