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It's a Hard Knoxville Life 

Hey COVID, welcome to "Jackass Forever"

Whenever something is just too beautiful to put into words, there's a line from the 1997 Jodie Foster movie, "Contact," I fall back on: "They should have sent a poet." She says that line when laying eyes on extraterrestrial life for the first time because she just can't explain to the people back in mission control how truly sublime what she's seeing is and how mind-shatteringly profound this new reality will be for humanity.

click to enlarge Just a photo of a grown man named Poopies trying to get bit on the face by a snake. NBD. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MTV
  • Photo courtesy of MTV
  • Just a photo of a grown man named Poopies trying to get bit on the face by a snake. NBD.

Upon watching "Jackass Forever," all I can say is: "They should have sent a poet." That feeling has less to do with the actual quality of the movie and is much more connected to the intense feeling of catharsis I received from watching it with a packed theater full of strangers. If anyone wants to point out the death of the theatrical experience to me again, I will simply point them to the moment I had watching "Jackass Forever" when the lovable scamp Steve-O covers his genitals with hundreds of angry bees searching for their queen. Yes, it's dumb and absolutely ridiculous, but hearing the collective gasp of 100+ people in the audience as we all realized what was happening together was surprisingly lovely.

The timing for this movie couldn't be better as people start heading back to the movies again. With literally thousands of options on streaming now, there are going to need to be extremely strong options to get people to go spend more money, time and energy going to a movie theater, and ultimately there are only two things that will do that: the actual movie itself and the experience of the theater. We might be past the point where audiences will just go to a theater and see any old thing just to kill a few hours.

Look at how many high profile movies have flopped over the last few months and then compare that to the staggering amount of money "Spider-Man: No Way Home" is still making every weekend. Audiences will go to the theater if they have a reason, and Johnny Knoxville getting gored by a bull and Steve-O trying to light a fart underwater are just a few of them.

I've been watching the Jackass guys and their stupid shenanigans for over 20 years and checking back in with them for the first time since "Jackass 3" 10 years ago felt like a hangout with old friends where we're all noticeably older, slightly creakier and just as willing to injure ourselves for each other's entertainment.

Seeing "Jackass Forever" in a packed theater filled with people laughing hysterically might still be completely stupid and pointlessly dangerous, but it gave me something I haven't felt since before I ever heard the word Coronavirus: hope. Hope that our differences won't always divide us and that communal experiences are something that are still sought after.

Johnny Knoxville and company remind us every time they get on screen that we're all mortal and spinning through the universe together on a ball of rock and water. They remind us that that holy trinity of human connection, love and friendship are probably why we exist and that the beauty we try to put into each other are what gives us the tiniest taste of immortality. They remind me that existence is a fragile collection of moments that bind tightly enough together to approximate a life. Or maybe we just like seeing idiots get smashed in the nuts. Either way, they should have sent a poet.

Jackass Forever

Dir. Jeff Tremaine

Grade: B+

Now Playing at Regal Old Mill, Odem Theater Pub

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