Johnny Knoxville’s infectious laughter hijacks the Universal logo. The screen turns black, the Jackass ‘WARNING’ stamped white and centre as the solemn voiceover intones that the following (juvenile) stunts are the work of professionals...
Then comes the iconic skull-and-crutches, that guitar lick...
Excited? You should be. The Jackass boys are back, obeying the rules of the movie sequel by going bigger, bolder... not always better. If Jackass: The Movie saw Ehren McGhehey munching a piss-flavoured snow cone, then Jackass Number Two will give us Chris Pontius chugging a bottle of still-warm horse’s spunk. Or Steve-O attaching a leech to his eyeball, Pontius enticing a serpent to bite his dick and Bam Margera suffering a dildo hammered up his arse.
Scatology aside, the cunning array of stunts include blind bullfighting, bicentennial BMXing, rocket-rodeoing, hammerhead shark-baiting and a furious game of dodgeball. With medicine balls. In the dark.
Like the first movie and the endearingly ragged MTV show, Jackass Number Two is really no more than a string of witty, inventive, frankly insane skits, the only concession to cinema being a Busby Berkeley-style song-and-dance number – replete with aggressive stunts and a sly nod to Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. Also like the first movie and the endearingly ragged MTV show, it’s lewd, crude and painfully funny. Dangerously so.
But what’s it all about? Some critics, after all, have introduced Jackass as Exhibit A in evidencing society’s total breakdown, with Roger Ebert labelling the first film “disgusting, repulsive and grotesque...” Bollocks. Sorry, Roger: poppycock. The Jackass boys’ punkish antics are invigorating, funny as hell and a means of confronting our mortality from a safe distance. Pseudo-psych nonsense? Maybe, but as Hollywood stuntman Simon Crane told Total Film just last month, “It’s all gonna end when one of ’em gets killed.”
For now, though, we’ll suck it on up. And when Bam emerges from one particularly tortuous ordeal with tears in his eyes, mumbling, “Please God, don’t let there be a Jackass Three,” we have to disagree.