Johnny Knoxville; The Original Jackass!
Philip John Clapp (better known as Johnny Knoxville), the 32 year old 6'1" host of MTV' Jackass, was born on March 11, 1971 and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. From an early age he was an atheletic daredevil, throwing himself from his crib, according to his parents, Phil and Lemoyne. At the age of 7, PJ decided to take a stick to a hornet's nest near his home. At 13, the straight-A student produced a phony report card with failing grades which was left out for his parents to find. Then there was that time he jumped from a second-story hotel room into a pool... However, Johnny admits that he got his odd sense of humor from his father, who ran Clapp's Tire Store. He recalls several practical jokes his father played while he was growing up: Running a lukewarm hot dog through Johnny's lips while he was asleep (then pretending to zip his pants when his son awoke); Staging a gunfight at the Christmas party; Giving Ex-Lax milkshakes to friends. Plus during PJ's senior year at South Young high school Phil helped his son create letters supposedly from a VD clinic which were sent to several friends on the football team. Fellow classmates have said Johnny was always very outgoing and loved to be the center of attention. Once he got up in front of the whole school during a pep rally and lip sang the song from Ferris Bueler's Day Off. He also played Danny Zucho in a chorus production of "Grease".
After graduating from high school at the age of 18, Johnny moved to California to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasedena on a scholoarship. However, he dropped out within weeks. When he met his neighbor, a Texan named Melanie, they quickly fell in love. In 1995 they decided to elope to Las Vegas, Nevada to get married. But when they got there, Johnny ended up gambling away all their money and they were forced to marry in a smaller church. Johnny and Melanie are still married and in 1996 they had a daughter, Madison, whose name is tattooed on left side of Johnny's chest. Early in his marriage, Johnny supported his family by appearing in commercials (for Taco Bell, Coors Light, and Mountain Dew) and worked on a novel (which he never finished) in his free time. He also wrote occasional articles for Blunt, Bikini, and Big Brother Magazines. Once he even spent the night in a field with 10,000 hippies during the Rainbow Gathering for a story.
In 1996 Johnny had the idea to shoot himself with pepper spray, a taser, a stun gun, .38, and then write an article about the experience. He pitched the idea to a couple of magazines that turned it down. Finally in 1997 he told Jeff Tremaine (editor at Big Brother Magazine) about his idea. Jeff hired him as journalist and convinced him to videotape this idea and other stunts (getting hit by car, poo poo platter, etc.) for stories. Eventually these became part of the Big Brother videos Boob and Number Two. Johnny quickly became a cult hit and soon there was a bidding war between MTV and Comedy Central to land him a TV show. He was offered a spot on Saturday Night Live, but turned it down. That's when Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine, and Spike Jonze pitched the idea of Jackass to MTV...it would combine part of the Big Brother Crew with the East Coast CKY crew (skateboarding pranksters Bam Margera, Brandon DiCamillo, and Ryan Dunn) and would allow the three producers creative control. MTV jumped at this unique idea. Alongside Johnny, Tremaine, and Jonze on the show were Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Ryan Dunn, Brandon DiCamillo, Jason 'Wee Man' Acuna, Dave England, Ehren McGhegan, Steve-O, and Preston Lacy. Jackass quickly became one of cable's highest rated shows and eventually sparked many recent movie deals for Johnny Knoxville including a big screen version of Jackass. In addition to his father, Johnny names Slim Pickens, Strother Martin, George C. Scott, Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Reilly, Ron Palillo, Dave Letterman, Super Dave Osborne, and Candid Camera as many of his influences. Johnny currently has several films that have been released, as well as many others inproduction.
Johnny Knoxville: Making The Ultimate Road Movie
Best known for his madcap stunts on Jackass, fans will be shocked to see the emotional depth Johnny Knoxville brings to his acting role as Phil Kaufman, road manager of the late great Gram Parsons, in Grand Theft Parsons. Tiscali caught up with him to ask how it all came about...
What is your role in the film?
I play the character Phil Kaufman. It's essentially about two days in the life of Phil Kaufman, about one man keeping his word to his friend.
Why did you get involved with this project?
I'm a huge Gram Parsons fan so I was really excited when I heard they were making a movie about this story, it's a famous underground story. I loved the script, met David Caffrey (director) and Frank Mannion (producer), got along with them and they said they wanted to show me one of David's films. I was a little scared that I was gonna watch his film and absolutely hate it but the film, called Divorcing Jack, I watched and loved so was really excited about Grand Theft Parsons.
How did you prepare for the role of Phil Kaufman?
Phil Kaufman is an amazing character. Just the basic story of him kidnapping the body from LAX and trying to get out to Joshua Tree to burn the body with all the wrecks and the police involvement and the stops for beer is an amazing story in itself, but I read Phil Kaufman's book, "Road Mangler Deluxe" and he's lived 5 lifetimes. His whole life should have a movie made of it much less those 2 days.
What was it like meeting Phil Kaufman?
After I read his book I met with Phil in New York and dressed kind of like him - like a picture in a book I saw when he went to court. I had a cowboy hat on and a shirt made that said "Gram Parsons the fallen angels" and I sat down to dinner with him, had the glasses on and the hat and he said "I saw you 10 minutes earlier walk into the restaurant" and he told his wife "look someone's got a Gram Parsons shirt on" and lo & behold that was me. I absolutely love him but it's really tough to have a conversation with him because anything you say to him he's gonna have a one liner for. He's really funny, a huge character.
Kaufman has a lot in common with my father so I didn't play Phil Kaufman exactly, I kind of just tried to play the spirit of Phil Kaufman.
Tell us about the trike
It was actually Phil Kaufman's trike at one point. It was supposed to be a motorcycle but I didn't know if I could ride a motorcycle that good. So I went to take trike lessons with this guy in the valley - an old Harley rider, Kaufman's friend - and I did really bad on my first trike lessons, so bad that 10 minutes into it the guy is like "that's it I don't think this is gonna work out" but eventually we worked it out and I learned to ride the trike although not very well. I probably went through a couple of clutches on this film, much to the guy's dismay, but Kaufman knew him and smoothed it all over.
Are your jackass fans gonna like this picture and why?
Yes, everyone I talk to who asks me what I'm doing, there hasn't been one person who hasn't been really excited about it so my fans will definitely like this picture. It's a true story and there are huge comedic moments that happened when Kaufman pulled this off which we've tried to recreate for the film. There are a lot of funny moments as well as a lot of dramatic moments. Phil Kaufman was Gram Parsons' friend and he died as Phil Kaufman felt he would - young, and Kaufman kept his word to Gram and did what he said. I respect him for a lot of things but I respect him most for that.
What was it like shooting the film?
Frank and David included me on every big decision on this film, they would consult with me and couldn't have made it easier for me. We shot really fast - 24 days. We would be driving in the hearse and we would do four scenes at once. It was crazy but it was fun and that hearse%u2026 I thought it was gonna die after the first day of filming, how it lasted the whole film I have no idea! On the second day we had someone come out and look at it and I said "is it gonna be alright?" and they said "well it's no longer a fire hazard". Apparently it could have gone up in flames at any moment. We actually had to evacuate the car once when we were shooting out in the desert coz there were sparks coming from under the car. Bernice (the hearse) pretty much stole the picture, everytime you turned her off she would keep running and eat up as much screen time as possible.
You have a wonderful supporting cast.. tell us how it was working with them
The role of Larry, who I'm in almost every scene with,was played by Michael Shannon and we went through a lot of people to try and find that role and he was I believe maybe the last guy to come in and read and it was a stroke of luck he came in because he was perfect. He's such a great actor I really gave him a lot of sh*t in this film even when we weren't shooting. He may think I don't like him but I love him!
Marley Shelton plays Susie my love interest and she came in and just killed the role, she's so pretty. When I first saw her out in the desert in her clothes and her hair she looked like some desert cowboy angel. She was so pretty, really good to work with. Christina Applegate came in and she killed it as well, she's great to work with. I only got to work with her 4 or 5 days but wished I'd worked with her more because she's fun to be around, she's a great actress.
And Robert Forster, he called me John and I always called him Mr Forster until he informed me that was his father's name so I didn't call him that anymore... I didn't call him Bob but I called him Robert. Robert Forster's brilliant, every line he says is just so honest, he's such a pro, good to work with. Coming from Jackass, going from Party Boy and Steve O to Robert Forster, that was something else!
Were any scenes particularly hard for you to do?
I've never had to cry on screen before. Preparing to cry for this was tough but I think it worked out alright. I would just think someone was yelling "last call" and I would just break into tears.
What about pranks on set?
Michael Shannon - I thought he had the most fungus infected toenails I've ever seen on a man and I'm like "make-up really did a great job on your toes" and he's like "they're real". They're disgusting, absolutely disgusting and it's not that they're just covered in fungus, they're long. I mentioned to the girls on the first night of the shoot to please look at his toes and they did and were absolutely disgusted. I had them clip some of his toenails and give to me. They put them in my hand and I went up to Marley and I put one of his fungus infected toenails in her hand and she didn't take it well at all. I did the same thing with Christina and I may have got punched for that one! They weren't remotely amused but they laughed after they finished beating me!
Johnny Knoxville: An Artist Waiting To Emerge
Johnny Knoxville has a genuine sense of humour but takes his craft seriously. Better known as the centrepiece of the infamous Jackass television series and subsequent movie, Knoxville is happy playing a genuine character opposite The Rock in the action thriller Walking Tall, playing the former's best friend who helps him in his fight against a corrupt casino owner in the small town in which the duo grew up. "I've played a couple of characters as such, but this is one of the bigger roles in a bigger movie that I've played," a relaxed Knoxville says. He says being part of an action film was a genuine blast. "I had a ball making this with a lot of fight sequences and getting to destroy the car. It's a good gig, you get to play cops and robbers and get paid." He adds that he learned a fundamental lesson working with The Rock. "He gave me some really good tips on the proper foundation I should wear," quips the actor.
All joking aside, Knoxville was determined to develop his acting skills on Walking Tall, so he hired an acting coach "and we worked our asses off for quite awhile. I got famous and then became an actor as opposed to the opposite way, so I've learned in front of everyone and I'm just now feeling comfortable," Knoxville says. The actor adds that the most important dramatic lesson he has learned over the last few years is "it's just all about feeling more comfortable in front of the camera, trying to really work out who you're playing and where you want that to go." While Knoxville is surprised how he has been able to develop as an actor despite Jackass, he says "I've been lucky because it would've been easy to get pigeonholed as that guy, but I get all kinds of scripts. I've gotten lucky enough to do a couple of different things, so it's a blessing as weird as that is to say that 'Jackass has been a blessing.' "Jackass fans may hunger for more, but Knoxville is adamant that's it for the show that launched his career, "because it's a hot potato and I think we got out of it pretty Scott free." Knoxville adds that there is no way Jackass could really exist today, given the more conservative times in which we live, "not with the F-U- C-C coming down on everyone and the climate we're in. Hammers are coming down all over town."
But Knoxville can easily afford to turn his back on Jackass, given his current slate of work. First, there is his starring role in the new Farrelly Brothers movie The Ringer, which he describes as "one of the coolest experiences of my life." In the film, due out later this year, "I fake like I'm mentally challenged and enter the Special Olympics because I have to pay off this guy's surgery. My uncle has to pay off his bookies, so he convinces me to do it, which on the surface sounds like it could be mean-spirited, but it's not because all the mean stuff happens to me. It's a Farrelly Brothers film, so it's really sweet and we cast real mentally challenged actors in the roles and they're brilliant." Knoxville says it was a challenge playing a mentally challenged character who is not. "It was tough because we had to find a balance where it wasn't hard to watch. You don't want to watch someone - over-the-top - for an hour and a half, so we had to make it subtle and I think we did."
Talking about subtle, Knoxville also wrapped work on the new John Waters film a Dirty Shame, which also stars Selma Blair. "That's like working with one of your heroes. He invited me to lunch about two and a half years ago and said he's writing this film and this character for me and would I be interested? Then he pulled out all these fetish mags and goes, 'By the way - this is what it's about.' "Knoxville adds that A Dirty Shame is "about a town full of sexual deviants who battle the neuters for control of the town and I play the head sexual deviant. It's one of the naughtiest and funniest things in years and he's so sweet and brilliant. You go to his house and there are books stacked eight to ten in each chair - there's no place to sit down - just because he constantly reads." Knoxville's character has his own particular fetish, he adds laughingly. "My thing is I go down on every girl in town."
The actor has little time to rest on his laurels between those two films. His next project, he says, is to film a small role in Lords of Dogtown, based on the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, of Thirteen fame. "I play Bunker Spreckels, a surfer and heir to the Spreckels sugar fortune, who inherited $50 million when he turned 21. He was a real gnarly surfer who poached Tony Alva from the team and really no one could do anything about it because he was this tough guy." Knoxville says that he was somewhat aware of that whole Dogtown subculture. "I wasn't a skater, but I came from skateboard videos, so I did know the history of it."
Knoxville is also developing other projects while reading other people's scripts. "I want to do a movie about a turf war between two hot dog vendors. It's a comedy and just an excuse. I'll be starring in it, too, just going back and forth with somebody for an hour and half, so I've been busy." If that's not enough, Knoxville is busy also developing a kind of music career. "I did start a record label! With this guy Roger Alan Wade as my first artist. He's an old hillbilly singer from Tennessee who's my first cousin. He's written for Willie [Nelson], Waylon [Jennings], Johnny Cash and got a couple of gold records for song-writing. He's just singing honkytonks in Chattanooga and he'd come out to L.A. and get loaded and I'd put him in front of a 4-track and he'd start singing all his songs, just him and his guitar like, 'Gone Back to Whorin', 'Butt-Ugly Slut' and 'Fryin' Bacon Nekkid.' He's got a lot of cool songs, too, with the funny ones, but he kind of mixes them in like at "Live at Folsom Prison," Johnny Cash would sing 'Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog' and then 'I Still Miss Someone.' That's his thing." Knoxville says that he sees himself as a musical entrepreneur. "Yeah, when I believe in something, I'll stand behind it and Rog has been my hero forever."
All of which proves, that within every Jackass is an artist waiting to emerge.
Johnny Knoxville is a damn good actor
Johnny Knoxville may be an actor, but he's no faker. Talk to him about "Lords of Dogtown" and he'll tell you straight up that his skater cred is minimal, though he's playing a pivotal figure in the '70s Southern Californian skate and surf scene. MTV News' Ryan J. Downey caught up with the ultimate 'Jackass' on the set, where he gave us the inside scoop on the movie, filled in some back story on legends Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta, and gave props to John Waters.
Johnny Knoxville: This has kind of been a cool set to work on so far, because Catherine Hardwicke's directing it. She directed "Thirteen," and I think she totally gets it. It's not like some Hollywood big-shot director came in and poached a really good story that means a lot to different people.
Plus Tony Alva's on the set all the time; Stacy Peralta — everyone's really closely involved with it. So I think it's gonna turn out good. I kind of hope we're making "Over the Edge" here. (It's a great teenage film in the '70s. And I don't know if this is a teenage film, but it's got that general vibe.)
I'm no skater. I don't claim to be. But most of our actors are pretty good skaters and they do a lot of their own stuff. They have doubles, but they do most of their own stuff. But, you know, don't look for me for being an authority on skating.
MTV: So how's the movie coming along? Get a chance to show off your skateboarding skills? How did you get involved with the project?
Knoxville: My friend John Linson is producing this, and he said there's a role in it I could play. I was really excited because I loved the documentary ["Dogtown and Z-Boys"]. And back when I did skate for two seconds, my first board was an Alva board.
Tony Alva and the character I play, Topper — whose real name was Bunker Spreckles — they were really good friends. And Bunker did make good on all the things he promised Tony, and he never charged Tony one cent for doing all the things he did for him, which I thought was cool.
Topper / Bunker Spreckles — they don't cover it in the movie, but Bunker OD-ed when he was like 27 in Hawaii. You see Topper's decline a little, but it ain't my movie — I'm just in it.
MTV: Did you know Stacy and Tony before the movie?
Knoxville: I don't think I had met Tony. I met Tony at the production office before this, and I've seen him out at a party before, but I really didn't know him. And I met Stacy on the set. They're so laid-back and cool. And they're really psyched because it's the story of their life and it's in the hands of people who care about it and who can handle it. Catherine Hardwicke's the perfect person to make the film. She's really cool.
In the scene coming up, I arrive to the event — Tony Alva and I arrive to the event in a Rolls Royce. Tony had just gotten back from Europe, where he was skating demos in Paris. And Tony's now a big rock star now and making lots of money, selling lots of boards. And there seems to be a little division between Jay Adams ... with Tony now, because I think, in the story, Jay's more about pure skating and Tony wants to be a rock star. And he is.
MTV: What else are you working on right now?
Knoxville: I just finished three films like back to back.
I have a John Waters picture called "A Dirty Shame." Very psyched about [it]. John Waters is one of my heroes, and he contacted me a couple years ago with this, I don't know, one of his naughtiest and funniest films in years. It's like old-school John Waters. It's about a town full of sexual deviants, and they battle the neuters for control of the town. And I play the head sexual deviant; my name's Ray. Looking forward to that one.
And I did a Farrelly brothers picture in Austin, Texas, called "The Ringer," where I fake like I'm mentally challenged and enter the Special Olympics because I'm really in debt and my uncle's in debt and ... It sounds maybe like a mean movie on the surface, but it's totally not. All the mean stuff happens to me, and we cast real mentally challenged kids in the roles and they're awesome. So, it's actually a sweet movie, and funny. And we don't treat it like an after-school special, either. We put everyone in real situations.
I'm very excited about both of those.
On the ''Hazzard'' set with Johnny Knoxville
It seems getting someone on the set of "The Dukes of Hazzard" movie to talk about the storyline is about as challenging as catching them darn Duke boys.
If you want to talk about plot, talk to Jay, ''Johnny Knoxville, dressed as his Luke Duke character and leaning on the General Lee , said last week , referring to director Jay Chandrasekhar.
"We don't know what the hell is going on."
"We're just having a good time," added Seann William Scott, who is portraying Luke's cousin Bo.
"Yeah, 'Punch this guy,' that's the kind of direction we get," Knoxville said.
OK. So, Jay, what exactly is this movie about?
"Well, in this one, the Dukes get in trouble and they get chased by Roscoe P. Coltrane," he explained, giving a description that could apply to any episode of the classic TV series, which ran from 1979 to 1985. "I don't want to tell you the ending, though."
Chandrasekhar did let it slip that Knoxville already rode a safe tied to a car going 30 miles per hour (no stuntman necessary), so there is some sort of heist in the movie. "We're trying to save Hazzard County," Scott said, vaguely.
While Chandrasekhar and his cast wouldn't reveal much about the plot, they were willing to discuss their approach to the movie. Rather than spoof the original show, like, say, "The Brady Bunch Movie" did, they're playing it straight. If anything, the movie will be more serious than the show.
"I think there are certain things about the TV show that you have to keep: the General Lee obviously, Boss' car, Daisy's Jeep, Roscoe has a dog named Flash," Chandrasekhar explained. "The rest of the movie was inspired by the 'Dukes of Hazzard' TV show and 'Smokey and the Bandit,' so it's going to feel a little different. It's played a little tougher, a little more macho."
In other words, Roscoe's signature laugh is gone. "With no disrespect to the original, that was a little hokey," said M.C. Gainey ("Con Air"), who is playing Coltrane.
"[We're capturing] the spirit of the show, we're not trying to imitate those guys, 'cause in my mind, those are the Duke boys forever," Knoxville added. "We're just trying to bring a little spin to it, or at least I am. I don't know Seann's method."
"I don't even have a method," Scott replied. "I just like driving the car."
And, as it turns out, he's not the only one having fun behind the wheel.
"I did the whole driving-school stunt work stuff and it's been really fun," Jessica Simpson, sporting the requisite Daisy Duke shorts, said while showing off her Jeep.
Like her male co-stars, Simpson is also doing some of her own stunts.
"Yesterday, I got to kick somebody in his chest and knock him down and take their order with my heel in their neck," she said. "It was funny. Daisy's that kind of waitress. Don't piss her off!"
Johny Knoxville still keeps in touch with kids
Johnny Knoxville is busy shooting "The Dukes of Hazzard" in Louisiana, but he's still keeping in touch with his co-stars from his last movie, "The Ringer," in which he plays a guy who rigs the Special Olympics to pay off a debt. "I'd never worked with kids who were mentally challenged before, and I didn't know what I was getting into, but it was literally the best thing that I've done," Knoxville said recently. "Each one of them is singularly brilliant in one area or many areas. They're so special and they call me all the time. I was really lucky to be able to do that. The Special Olympics endorsed the movie, and people perceive it one way, but it's actually a sweet movie. But we counterbalance it with, you know, rawness as well."
Johnny Knoxville starring in a comedy ''The Dukes of Hazzard''
Warner Bros. Pictures’ action-comedy "The Dukes of Hazzard, starring Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott and Jessica Simpson, commenced principal photography on location in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on November 15th, it was announced today by Jeff Robinov, President of Production, Warner Bros. Pictures. The film also stars Burt Reynolds, with Lynda Carter and Willie Nelson. A Warner Bros. Pictures presentation in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, "The Dukes of Hazzard" is directed by Jay Chandrasekhar ("Club Dread," "Super Troopers") and produced by Bill Gerber.
Based on the hit television series that ran from 1979-85, "The Dukes of Hazzard" is written by Jonathan Davis, with revisions by John O’Brien and Broken Lizard. Set in present day, the story follows the adventures of “good old boy” cousins, Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) Duke, who with the help of their eye-catching cousin Daisy (Jessica Simpson) and moonshine running Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson), try and save the family farm from being destroyed by Hazzard County’s corrupt commissioner Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds). Their efforts constantly find the “Duke Boys” eluding authorities in “The General Lee,” their famed 1969 orange Dodge Charger that keeps them one step ahead of the dimwitted antics of the small southern town’s Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (M.C. Gainey).
The Dukes of Hazzard will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures. The film is scheduled for domestic release by Warner Bros. Pictures in Summer 2005.
Made by jackasses for jackasses
In what may go down in history as the most irresponsible, outrageous footage ever to be released by a major Hollywood studio, Paramount Pictures presents JACKASS: THE MOVIE. Based on the MTV show of the same name, creators and coproducers Jeff Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville, and Spike Jonze stretch their surprisingly successful concept into a feature-length film. Watch cast regulars Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Bam Margera, Dave England, Ryan Dunn, Jason "Wee Man" Acuna, Preston Lacy, Ehren McGehey, and Brandon Dicamillo as they perform a series of ridiculously dangerous and dangerously stupid stunts. Entering a rental car in a crash-up derby, snorting wasabi, eating a urine-soaked snow-cone, self-inflicting paper cuts, and using a store's display toilet are just a few of the increasingly obscene antics that unfurl at a relentless pace. A large portion of the footage finds the pranksters in Japan, dressing up in outlandish outfits and wreaking havoc on the unsuspecting locals. Whether or not this is a hysterical romp or a waste of eighty minutes is for the viewer to decide, but the fact can't be argued, JACKASS: THE MOVIE is slapstick entertainment for the 21st Century, incorporating the modern world's fascination with reality television and obsession with disaster into a raucous, electrifying spectacle.
''Jackass: The Movie'' too hot for TV
You know what's coming, so I might as well get on with it.
Name your doomsday cliché and it fits. Our culture is headed down the toilet with the ferocity of a frozen burrito after an all-night tequila bender - and I know this because I've seen "jackass: the movie."
The feature-length marathon of gross-out gags and suicidally stupid pranks inspired by Johnny Knoxville's brain-damaged MTV extreme reality series pulled in an estimated $10 million on Friday, projected to easily best all other newcomers for this weekend's box-office crown.
Why? Because if the sea of stocking-capped miscreants packing my late-afternoon screening were a litmus test for this film's prospects elsewhere, the MTV generation has collectively reached an irreversible level of brain asphyxia, and think the sight of a semi-nude arrested post-adolescent dangling over an alligator pit with raw meat attached to his jockstrap, or a shirtless glue-sniffer firing a bottle rocket from his posterior region, is funny.
In technical terms, it's not a film at all. It can't rightly be termed a documentary; no narrative through-line or clarity of purpose is evident. It's not a comedy - laughter is a basic criterion for that. It's a half-hour "Too Hot for TV" segment expanded to 90 minutes, with no script, resemblance of editing or even marginal directorial competence by Jeff Tremaine - whose prerequisite for hiring photographers seems to be their proclivity for projectile vomiting on camera.
The beer-swilling buffoonery of Knoxville, graduated juvie-hall candidate Bam Margera, Steve-O and the rest of their inner circle of sub-moronic sadomasochists (aided and abetted by sponsor Miller High Life) can be intermittently funny in half-hour increments. As in the supremely mean-spirited but occasionally hilarious MTV show, the simplest gags often snag the biggest belly laughs: The spartan silliness of lurking in the bushes and blasting an air horn just as a golfer attempts to tee off is admittedly funny; so is the presence of four-foot cohort Jason "Wee Man" Acuña unsettling passers-by in downtown Tokyo by secreting himself in an oversize traffic cone.
But in what congenitally insane parallel universe are five guys chugging beer and torturing one another with electrodes attached to their nether regions funny? Is staring at an obese man's naked backside or wanton destruction of private property our idea of high comedy in the fast-food culture of today? Has the "Lubitsch touch" been replaced by "The Bungee Wedgie?"
Most of the gags - Ehren McGehey publicly defecating in a hardware store's toilet, Margera's attempt to coax the queen mother of swear words from his mother on camera by planting a live alligator in her kitchen, and scores more that are simply indescribable within editorial guidelines at a family newspaper - have no discernible comic payoff, unless you think lingering shots of fecal and seminal fluid are a knee-slapping cavalcade of whimsy.
Aside from the occasional chuckle you already get at home if you're a fan of the TV show, I can't think of any possible reason to immerse yourself in 90 minutes of spectacular cinematic incompetence and crass pandering to the basest instincts of mankind - unless you truly must see for yourself how low we can go.
The inevitable disclaimer that blazes onscreen in the opening credits admonishes the audience not to try this at home. I'll go Knoxville one better: Don't try it in the theater either.
For Jonny Knoxvilles' fans only
I'm not sure which will take longer to heal: the welt on Johnny Knoxville's stomach from a riot-control projectile or my own tortured psyche after watching "Jackass: The Movie."
Even if you never saw it on MTV, you've probably heard about the outrageous stunts Knoxville and his maniac colleagues attempted on the weekly "Jackass" series, which ran for only a year, between 2000 and 2001.
The big-screen version delivers what it promises: a nonstop barrage of painfully funny stunts, many of them too gross for television.
Among them: Guy jumps from tree branch into pair of jockey shorts for the first bungee wedgie; guy makes homemade yellow snow cone and then eats it; guy defecates in toilet display at neighborhood hardware store; guy snorts spicy Japanese wasabi and then throws up on sushi counter.
Some of the stunts are so disgusting that they can't be described in a family newspaper.
Once in a while, the grossness makes way for a clever bit. There's a certain level of wish-fulfillment to the idea of ordering a rental car, checking it carefully for nicks with the lot attendant, then smashing it in a demolition derby.
And who hasn't wanted to blow an air horn at an uptight golfer preparing to tee off?
Of course, what I find funny in "Jackass: The Movie" hardly matters. This movie is critic-proof. My belief that this is the most grotesque, juvenile and idiotic near-90 minutes I've spent in a movie theater will only serve as a ringing endorsement for the diehard "Jackass" fan.
And if you're one, dude, you'll love every second of it.
Johnny Knoxville's new role in the comic book film ''Hawaiian Dick''
Fast-forward a few decades and filmmakers are reading comic books for inspiration. Why not? Most of the time they're better written than movies and TV shows, and visually, they're limited only by the size of the page. The movies and comic books have had a symbiotic relationship since the days of Windsor McKay, and the only question is -- who's the remora and who's the shark?
No question, these days of digital animation have made comic-book-like movies easier than ever. You don't sit in the theater looking for strings or iguanas shot from low angles. The basics of comics and films remain the same as it has always been for storytelling. That is, no matter how wild the story is, do you care about the characters?
Which leads us to the problem of casting. A well-written and illustrated book makes the characters come alive for the reader.
Casting the right person in a comic-book role is tricky. Will they make the familiar character breathe? Or will they bury it in technique or squash it out of actorly hubris?
"Jackass" star Johnny Knoxville looks the part of seedy detective Byrd in the "Hawaiian Dick" comic book, but can he act the part? Casting can make or break a comic-book film.
Going into production, apparently quite soon, is a film based on the "Hawaiian Dick" three-volume comic book. Cast in the lead role of Byrd, a down-on-his-luck private eye, is jokester Johnny Knoxville, not really an actor but certainly comfortable before the camera. He also looks the part.
For a comic book, "Hawaiian Dick" is fairly modest, an atmospheric comic-noir based on equal parts hard-boiled B-movie, "Hawaiian Eye" and retro-'50s kitsch. The creators for Image Comics were Steven Griffin and B. Clay Moore. The production company is New Line, and the filmmaker are Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who previously did "Jason vs. Freddy."