Jackass: The Movie
premiered 20 years ago on October 25, 2002. This hilarious, high-stakes franchise is a raunchy guilty pleasure filled with pranks and dangerous stunts, which the signature warning screen advises are “performed by professionals.”
When you think about classic Jackass moments, bodily fluids and censored body parts might immediately come to mind. However, I chose to feature the most memorable stunts with a twist: they cannot include vomit, fecal matter, or naked penises. This was no easy feat because Jackass: The Movie contains copious amounts of all three.
10. Off-Road Tattoo
Getting tattooed is already nerve-wracking enough, but try getting one while Henry Rollins drives as recklessly as possible through the desert. The end result barely resembles the perfect smiley face that the tattoo artist draws on Steve-O’s arm in the beginning of the stunt. Rollins adds even more chaotic energy to this skit, a stunning example of “Don’t try this at home.”
No one is safe on a Jackass set, even when you think the cameras aren’t rolling. In a running gag scattered throughout the movie, the hand of a sinister cameraman creeps up behind unsuspecting cast and crew members and buzzes bald spots in the middle of their heads. Among the victims, Wee Man gets pissed off, and Danger Ehren (with all of his teeth still) gets it the worst, getting buzzed several times. This trope occurs in the subsequent movies with different pranks, raising the stakes each time.
Speaking of Danger Ehren, he always gets pranked the worst because he makes such an easy target. Reliably, Ehren freaks out the most. “Mousetraps” is a pretty simple concept: hundreds of set mousetraps on the floor, and Ehren, dressed as a mouse, rolls around looking for cheese. This stunt always makes my skin crawl, but the delight on Johnny Knoxville’s face as he tosses even more traps at Ehren never gets old.
7. Grinding the Rail
Jackass and skateboarding go hand in hand, but Johnny Knoxville is one member who isn’t particularly known for any prowess in the sport. Knoxville tepidly states that he’s going to “50/50 this rail,” like he isn’t exactly sure what that means, but he does know that it’s going to hurt when he inevitably wipes out. When Eric Koston, a professional skateboarder, demonstrates the move, he makes it look easy, but Knoxville proves this to be an illusion, and Koston gives him his props while literally rolling on the ground laughing and says, “I can’t believe he made it that far!”
6. Rocket Skates
“Hello, I’m Johnny Knoxville, and we’re about to test my rocket skates.” Strapped into a pair of rollerskates with firecrackers attached, Knoxville shoots off down the middle of an alley, and you almost think he’s going to escape unscathed…until he doesn’t.
5. Paper Cuts
Jeff Tremaine, co-creator and director of Jackass, has praised the crew for always showing up “ready to die.” Papercuts aren’t fatal, but they are very annoying and itchy. In this stunt, Johnny Knoxville gets them between his fingers and toes, and Steve-O one ups him by volunteering to have them inflicted in the corners of his lips. They are deep and some are bloody, and this stunt shows how Jackass is somehow able to weaponize mundane, everyday annoyances.
4. April’s Alligator
Bam Margera’s signature stunts often involved terrorizing his parents, Phil and April, and he even had a wildly popular spin-off series that I watched religiously called Viva La Bam. Without this stunt, there is no Viva La Bam, which ran for five seasons.
What would you do if you came home to an alligator in your kitchen? Unfortunately for April, this question isn’t hypothetical. Shouting over and over, “Is this thing real? IS IT REAL?,” her screams of horror rival none other than Shelley Duvall in The Shining.
3. Alligator Tightrope
If there’s something that makes you say, “I wouldn’t do that in a million years,” there’s a chance Steve-O’s done it and has the footage to prove it. In this stunt, he’s supposed to walk a tightrope to avoid falling into the pit of alligators circling below, but quickly he ends up hanging upside down with raw chicken dangling from his jock strap. Before he takes the first step, his pal Johnny Knoxville issues sage words of advice for his friend: “There’s no such thing as failure, Steve-O.” It’s a little heartwarming to hear the cheers when the alligator finally snatches the chicken from between Steve-O’s butt cheeks and the fearless stuntman escapes the pit without a scratch.
2. The Burglars
I have watched this stunt countless times, and before I die, I will watch it countless more times. Johnny Knoxville and Bam Margera crash through the ceiling of an office, pretending to be bumbling jewel thieves. The camera then cuts to an office worker who BOLTS out of the building and runs down the street, never looking back. I love this bit so much because someone in that office had to be in on the joke. The producers need to get permission to film, and cameras have been set up in this building, etc. THIS guy was definitely not one of those people, and he left his coworkers behind in the dust without a second thought. In a series that hinges on natural reactions, it’s hard to get more genuine than this.
1. Rent-a-Car Crash Up Derby
When I rent a car, I inspect it thoroughly with the reservation agent, triple check my insurance coverage, and I drive it very gingerly. When Johnny Knoxville rents a car, he chucks two blow up dolls in the backseat, spray paints 3s all over it, and drives in a demolition derby. The best part of this ingenious and iconic stunt is the return, when Knoxville tries to give back this destroyed shell of a car. He insists he’s not paying for any of the damage, and the reservation agent calmly retorts, “You declined any additional coverage.” But hey, at least he returned the car with a full tank of gas, so what more could you want from him?
Britt Spruill is a writer and comedian. You can find her shouting into the void on Twitter at @britt_spruill.