Jackass was the ultimate show your parents didn’t want you to watch. During its ultra low-budget days on cable, the show’s gang of skateboarders and their friends—Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Wee Man, Preston Lacy, Danger Ehren, Dave England, the late great Ryan Dunn and more—provided us with hours of simple, ludicrous, low-brow comedy gold. Their short stint on the air launched a mega-franchise including a series of spinoffs and four feature length films. It’s crass and stupid at times, but Jackass is the weird, fun, comfort content that’s ripe for revival in 2022.
In celebration of the upcoming fourth film, Jackass Forever, which opens in theaters on Feb. 4, we take a trip down memory lane to rank the 10 funniest and most ridiculous stunts from the first three Jackass films.
Jackass productions are a giant compilation of stunts and a few pranks that usually stay amongst the cast. Rarely does the franchise mess with the public, and when it does, it’s respectfully more a matter of making a scene in public to draw confused stares. Golf, however, is where the cast and I make a big exception. Watching golfers’ backswings get destroyed by air horns and the fury that follows is delicious and earns the boys hero status in my book.
It’s a simple premise that harkens back to the TV days of Jackass: recklessly driving some golf carts. The franchise’s low-budget origins were highlighted by taking mundane toys, sports equipment, and small vehicles to radical and needlessly dangerous heights, like urban kayaking, extreme pogoing, weird bucket cart racing, and shopping cart follies. In the first movie, golf carts are sent barreling down hills, soaring over ramps, driving through fences, and flipping over putt putt monuments. It’s the crew’s version of good clean fun and we delight in watching their bodies fly up to smack the top of the golf carts as they scramble about, barely staying intact.
Preston Lacy and Wee Man are a classic Jackass pairing performing stunts that highlight the two ends of the physical size spectrum. In the sequel, Lacy serves as the anchor for a bridge bungee jump for Wee Man. There is no better display of the duality of this team than when Lacy gets yanked off his perch only for his fall to whip an ascending Wee Man back down even faster. The ridiculousness of the scene is magnified by Bam Margera’s childish sketch of the stunt.
Electric Avenue is that rare stunt that reminds us that these boys have their limits. No matter how dangerous the wild animal involved, or what precious body parts are put in peril, the cast always seems giddy as hell to hurt themselves, so it’s a rare sight to see everyone wrecked with anxiety over a stunt. No one is having fun as they (after much hesitation) scramble through a tire course in a narrow hallway outfitted with hurdles and tasers suspended from the ceiling. You can’t help but choke out some schadenfreude giggles as Bam is zapped out of the air while two cattle prods spin madly like a crude, real life double-bladed lightsaber.
In a reminder of just how powerful fire hoses are, Dave England hugs a dangling fire hose as it propels him wildly around like an inflatable tube man from a car dealership. This one just seems like fun. Even though England can barely walk afterwards and is crying out in pain, it just seems like a jolly good time. This is why warnings were created.
As fun as it is to see the cast destroy themselves and their surroundings, it’s also fun to watch them succeed. Bungee Boodie is a mix of both as the boys get whipped into an inflatable pool using various sporting equipment (boogie board and roller skates, skateboard, surfboard) and a wheelbarrow just to make sure the segment doesn’t come across as too impressive.
The High Five is less of a stunt than another recurring bit focused solely on friends hurting friends. Unlike random punches to the head or sneak-attack haircuts, you cannot help but laugh at the surreal sight of a giant hand coming out of nowhere to whack unsuspecting cast members. The split-second result of grown men going from upright to flat on their back is hysterically cartoonish. It’s such a dramatic drop that it makes the stunt come across as more dangerous than some of its rocket-involved predecessors, but such concerns melt away quickly as the victims are always laughing just as fully as the perpetrators.
Watching grown men curse at God while holding giant novelty lollipops is exactly why we watch Jackass. Bulls are a recurring theme in the Jackass universe and the toro totter leaves you wondering why. Paired up on a quad-teeter-totter, Knoxville, Margera, Pontias, and Dunn work together and apart to play last man standing in a ring with an angry bull. It’s amazing that the winning Knoxville somehow survives multiple hits and comes back for two more sequels. This is the stunt that makes me confident that if the science were there, a real Jurassic Park would absolutely be allowed to open.
Like Firehose Rodeo, this stunt showcases the understated power of everyday objects. Jackass is one of the only comedies to actually produce a quality sequel and the franchise just keeps getting better with age and steadily increasing budgets. Jackass 3D amps up the theater to great results opening up the Jet Engine stunt with a live recreation of the iconic Maxwell cassette tape “Blown Away” commercial. It continues in classic Jackass fashion by pummeling cast members with various objects thrown into the path of the jet. It’s a picture-perfect use of the brand’s elevated status.
It’s the theater of it all that launches Duck Hunting into the top spot. This segment does everything the movie adaptation of a show should do: stay in the spirit of the original while amplifying the stakes. Old Jackass standbys like water blobs and paintball guns are utilized for a delightful mix of high-flying stunts and pointless pain. Dressed in minimalist duck costumes, it is a beautifully hilarious sight to see cast members ragdoll through the air accompanied by the constant rattle of paintball guns going off as their castmates in canoes and hunting apparel watch on in glee. Ryan Dunn’s unreal, cloud-scraping flip into the lake is one of his and the franchise’s best moments.
Olivia Cathcart is a comedian and writer.