A viewer of "Jackass: The Movie" might have concluded that Johnny Knoxville and his troupe of giggly, beer-fueled pranksters couldn't possibly top that film's parade of crass and homoerotic shenanigans. Yet here is "Jackass: Number Two," even grosser, louder and more naked than its predecessor.
I can only assume that this makes the film "better" than the first one, though quality is relative when you're talking about a movie where a man ingests beer through a tube inserted into his rectum. The usual rules of filmmaking -- acting, storytelling, cinematography, etc. -- are irrelevant in a case like this.
(Not to be lazy or anything, but my review of the first film is remarkably accurate for the new one, too. You might go there and save yourself some trouble.)
The film has six recurring motifs.
1. Knoxville and friends perform stunts designed to inflict pain on themselves. (Example: Bam Margera gets himself branded like a cow.)
2. They perform stunts meant to be funny but which have the potential for being painful. (Example: Launching themselves off a dock riding a bicycle with a rocket attached to it.)
3. They do vile, disgusting things that are intended to sicken the audience. (Example: I don't want to get into it, but honest to goodness, there is horse semen involved. The perpetrator even says "I'm ashamed of myself" afterward, which seems appropriate.)
4. They play pranks on each other. (Example: Cast members think they're reading a sign on a wall, but behind the sign is a spring-loaded boxing glove that pops out and punches them.)
5. They harass Bam Margera's parents. (Example: Covering their home's staircase with snow to create a sled run.)
6. They do odd things in public for the purpose of getting reactions from innocent bystanders. (Example: Film director Spike Jonze, dressed in realistic old-age makeup, plays an elderly woman whose wizened breasts are always being exposed.)
Some of #2, #4 and #5 are often very entertaining to watch, if only for the sheer "Why would you even THINK of that?" value. Having a midget bungee-jump from a bridge with the other end of the cord tied around the waist of a fat guy is funny, I don't care where you're from.
I've never been a fan of #6 stuff, the pranking of unsuspecting bystanders, because I feel bad for the people whose emotions are being toyed with. This is due to my sympathetic and humanistic nature.
The #1 scenes are often squirm-inducing, and the #3s are unbearable. Usually I can deal with extreme puerility in a film by reminding myself that it's not real. You don't have that luxury here. Those really are feces, and they really are being used in that way.
Why must every stunt involve nudity? Why the fascination with (and this is an abbreviated version of a very long list) pubic hair, anuses, testicles, vomit, semen and feces? Where in your vision, Mr. Knoxville, is there a place for farting in the face of a loved one? Who made you this way?
I will not deny that I laughed many times during the film, often uproariously. That's when I wasn't cringing or looking away. It ... well, it is what it is. If the TV show makes you laugh, or if you liked the first movie, the second one is more of the same. My powers as a critic are useless here.