David Edelstein Willingly Subjects Himself to the Pain-Inducing Stunts of the “Jackass” Crew, and Laughs Like an Idiot

NEW YORK (CBS) – There’s just no telling what sort of movie will attract the attention of our critic, David Edelstein:

Hello. I want to take a moment to say how honored I am to be part of a program as cultured, humane, and finely-wrought as “Sunday Morning,” and to thank its producers for allowing me to celebrate its stomach-churning-sadomasochistic-anal-expulsive-oh-my-God-I’m-going-puke-my-guts-out-opposite-in-all-things, “Jackass 3-D.”

It’s the third feature based on an old MTV series, a carnival of cruelty in which a troupe of clowns – it’s all men, all white – test their masculinity by taking moronic risks and subjecting themselves to disgusting punishments.

Johnny Knoxville is the ringleader – boyishly handsome, vaguely Satanic. And among the others are skinny fan fave Steve-O and Wee Man, a marvel of endurance.

There are R-rated “Candid Camera”-style pranks on civilians, but mostly they hurt only themselves.

Or, they play brutal tricks on one other, the Three Stooges taken to a psychotic level.

Watch them laugh uproariously while their “friends” writhe in genuine pain. And it’s a special coup if they can drive one of their own to vomit.

Take this scene where they drink a cocktail of a fat man’s – no, I can’t show you that.

Take Steve-O shot high in the air in a port-o-potty at capacity – no, can’t show that, either.

In 3-D, things get pointed at the audience – no, scratch that clip.

They goad animals – bees, snakes, scorpions, and (my favorites) bulls or angry rams. Call them anti-matadors: Nail me. Ream me.

In an age torn by war and inhumanity, there’s something decadent about privileged white Americans hurting themselves for laughs and profit.

Sometimes I look at them, the dwarfish and obese, the unabashedly trashy, and find them irrationally disturbing: I want to see them dead.

Did I say that? I mean, not dead – “exiled from the tribe,” because they are, from an evolutionary standpoint, so reckless as to be a threat to our species’ survival.

And yet . . . and yet . . . they affirm something, something primitive, reaching back to an age of self-mutilation as a rite of passage. Something defiantly juvenile, even anti-feminine.

Take that, you women who want us to grow up and stop playing with toys!

Most women – the ones I associate with, anyway – are appalled that “Jackass” makes me laugh like an idiot and scream at the screen.

It worries me, too. Is it sick or, in its Freudian-cathartic way, healthy?

I got no clue.

And now, a soothing montage of autumn leaves . . .

For more info: The Projectionist (David Edelstein’s Movie Blog)

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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