Thirty-Day Movie Challenge: Day Eighteen

Two days, and another review?


My heart is all aflutter, too.

I’m just eager to barrel through these, so all of us can just move on to what will hopefully be bigger and better things. Movie reviews will always be a part of the proceedings, but I’ve got some other ideas that I want to run through, and I don’t want to try my luck at them until this current movie challenge nonsense is finished.

Nonsense entirely of my own design but nonsense all the same.

This blog will not be the place in which I do something truly dramatic (to me) as an artist and (supposed—don’t ask anyone I ever dated) person, but I think one of the ways in which I can cure my steady blues is by doing something different.

And what’s the old saying? Something about having to start somewhere?

I can’t remember. We’ll just say that’s the one.

The cold weather has set in, and it’s glorious. I’m sure this has been muttered about before, but it makes me dream of travel. I don’t know why. I want to be somewhere else, and I want to have nothing but hours of wandering the weird streets in front of me. I hope that comes along soon. I’m a good deal better-adjusted on the road.

Cold weather does a lot of strange things to my mind and memories. I have all kinds of associations with fall, and even winter, and most of them are quite good. I don’t know if the weather really does have much to do with those associations, but they’re still locked together.

The negative associations are fine, too, because they’re almost always good for a couple of bucks.

I love the cold, but I loathe Christmas.


30 Day Movie Challenge

Day Eighteen: Film That Is Your Guilty Pleasure:

Jackass: The Movie (2002)
Directed by: Jeff Tremaine
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius

I don’t really believe in the concept of a guilty pleasure movie. The implication of having to feel guilty for liking something is ludicrous to me. I don’t care if the entire world comes together at long last, in a universal spirit of overwhelming brotherhood and declares that Jackass: The Movie is the dumbest thing to have ever come out of the ambitions of mankind. It may well be (I can personally think of worse). I’m still going to like it. I’m still going to like the sequels, too.

The poop jokes don’t do it for me. I just can’t find that stuff funny no matter how hard I try. That’s one of the all-time “great” comedy staples that I haven’t found funny since roughly the first grade. Nothing against those who do. Everyone laughs at something with no particular value or deeper meaning. All of us laugh at something that is not only unlikely to advance the human race anytime soon, but is also probably setting us back a few paces on the whole emotional and spiritual evolution jag. That’s okay. Don’t pay any attention to me if I don’t get it. I expect the same courtesy, and the only thing that bothers me about “stupid humor” is when someone acts like they’re better than that kind of thing.

They’re not. We’re all doomed. At least in that regard.

The poop jokes in Jackass have never made me laugh, and they never will. Some of them will even make me flinch a little.

Steve-O stapling his genitals to something? Nah. That’s not really my bag either.

The physical comedy? The stuff that promises nothing but the potential for a few broken bones?

That’s when I start laughing, and find it difficult to stop, and I’ll argue with anyone that the physical comedy in Jackass is some of the best you’ll find anywhere. There’s a good reason why most of those imitation videos sent in by idiots the world over are by and large desperate and terminally unfunny. There’s an honest-to-God art form to falling down and making that funny. It’s been a staple of comedy that goes back even further the birth of film itself. It’s the old Mel Brooks (at least that’s who the quote has been frequently attributed to over the years) saying that comedy is when somebody falls into a sewer and dies (but the tragedy is that Mel just cut his finger). Anyone can fall off the roof of a house. Johnny Knoxville and his cronies built careers out of inexplicably making it a little more entertaining than the cast of thousands, who inhabit the internet, and shows like Tosh.0.

For a lot of us, there’s just something inherently funny, about a guy slapping a pair of fireworks on some roller skates and trying to make it down a steep hill without crashing.

There’s also something pure and wonderful about anything involving explosions and a giant shopping-cart.

Then there are the pranks. Some of them work (like Knoxville renting a car, and taking it to a demolition derby, or Bam Margera trying to make his mom swear), and some of them don’t. I’ve always had to admire them for trying. A brilliant prank on their part can make me laugh just as hard, as anything in which someone is certain to be shaving a year or two off their lifespan in the name of cheap laughs.

My own life seems to be dictated in a similar fashion, although it’s nowhere near the scale the Jackass boys reach.

It’s easy to understand why a lot of people don’t care for Jackass. I was never a big fan of the show, and I’ve avoided its spin-offs like the plague (Steve-O and Bam strike me as ridiculously obnoxious, and I could never stand to sit through something that focuses on them). The movies however have been a joy. The first one is still my favorite. It’s stupid, banal and completely without a point, but the best moments are as fine examples of physical comedy, as anything you’re going to find these days. It’s a rare thing to see it done well in modern times. I guess the appeal for me is the concept of the stunts themselves. The simplest jokes are a set-up, and a punch-line, in as few words as possible. The best stunts and pranks in anything Jackass have elaborate, clever set-ups that yield terrific punc lines. It’s base comedy, but the great bits carry with them the underlying fact that it’s a lot harder to pull off than it looks.

Although this was probably pretty easy to pull off.

I’ll never be a fanatic for the series, or these people. I like it, but I have to admit that I didn’t feel a great sense of celebrity loss when Ryan Dunn died in a drunk-driving accident this past year. I will say that his passing was unfortunate, and that it will probably be the only time I ever feel sorry for Bam Margera. Bam lost his best friend. I’ve lost friends over the years, but I’ve been lucky enough to never lose someone who is so integral to that small list of the things and people that keep me going. Margera strikes me as a career asshole. Watching him cry in any of the Jackass movies yields a sort-of perverse joy on my part. I did watch the interview with him in the wake of Dunn’s death, and I didn’t get any pleasure out of his visible, deep sadness. He lost that one great friend. They were a great pair in the first movie (and the others) because of that friendship.

The camaraderie between these guys definitely comes through in the films. I only know what I see on the screen, but part of why Jackass: The Movie succeeds is because of the natural chemistry that allows these guys to do whatever they might be doing from one flash of stupidity to the next.

I’ve never been surprised that Spike Jonze is such a fan and willing participant in their insanity. He gets the joke. I don’t think I’m special for getting the joke, too, but I do like that I have something I can enjoy that is completely free of pretension of subtext. It’s simply a bunch of guys making each other’s lives a living hell. That can be pretty damn hysterical when it works. I’m glad I find it so funny. Too much cynicism can become problematic. It’s a relief to know I’m not a complete lost cause, and that relief is often expressed by guiltless, deranged laughter. Jackass: The Movie has helped out achieve that fix on at least a couple of occasions. I’m grateful.

  1. Sarah Silverman and Slim Shady are my guilty pleasures, but I think Marilyn Manson will never be better than the Eurythmics and Borat is just plain wrong.

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