Cannes Film Festival 2022 dark horse Jackass 4.5 (don’t look that up to confirm) hit streaming on Netflix this past weekend, the companion piece to February’s Jackass Forever. Since the second Jackass movie back in 2006, a feature-length follow-up has always been released not long after a new Jackass entry, highlighting unused footage and stunts from said film in addition to interviews between the cast and crew. In this one, we also go behind the scenes of the crew’s elaborate introductory bit—Pontisaurus Rex—which Jeff Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville and Spike Jonze admit was their most expensive dick joke ever produced. As the long-awaited arrival of Jackass Forever helped heal our broken nation, the arrival of Jackass 4.5 signals another important cultural touchstone: Allowing us to come together over penis and ball mutilation.
My first thought after watching Jackass Forever was that, having recently gotten into the Jackass oeuvre during the year prior, this new film was both particularly hilarious in comparison to previous installments and particularly hard to watch (in no small part due to the repeated testicular trauma inflicted upon poor Danger Ehren). I assumed that Jackass 4.5 would have its fair share of bits that were similarly difficult to stomach. But I had no expectation that I would be shielding my eyes from about 80% of the 90-minute film. In fact, as I found myself uncertain if my dinner was going to crawl up my esophagus at numerous points, I would argue that the stunts and pranks in Jackass 4.5 are even more noxious and repellent than the ones featured in Jackass Forever. It’s nothing short of a triumph.
Thus, we decided to take a look at the 10 best stunts featured in Jackass 4.5.
The crux of the Blindfold Race is simple: Blindfold a bunch of the Jackass guys and make them race against one another. Already a pretty dicey endeavor, but this is Jackass. If it were just that and that alone, it would be a little too simple. At the last minute, while the competitors have already been blindfolded, the rest of the crew brings in a bunch of insane obstacles placed all along the racetrack. The blindfolded racers have no other expectation than that they have to race one another without their vision, so they’re already compromised—but they are also expecting their path to be completely clear. Instead, the racers begin wildly crashing into things like street signs and children’s toys and chairs and even an entire shed, and suddenly it’s not just a race but a fight for their damn lives.
One of the first bits featured in Jackass 4.5, “Fire in the Hole” entails the fellas, quite plainly, pouring hot sauce straight into each other’s assholes. This is a bit which feels pretty innocuous on the surface but gets harder to stomach the more you think about it and the more you watch. The bit concludes with Johnny Knoxville graciously handing each of his comrades a popsicle to cool off. Not to be eaten, of course, but Dave England gets the bright idea to try it both ways to regrettable effect.
Sometimes the least complicated Jackass stunts can be the most dangerous. Case in point: Ballknockers fashions itself like a Newton’s Cradle with a twist, wherein the largest Jackass members, Preston Lacy and Zach Holmes, are dressed up in shining silver suits, suspended and pulled on either side of a wooden support with bungee cords—the outer “balls”—and the smallest member, Wee Man, is suspended in the middle—the inside “ball”—cushioned lightly by a few balloons. The outer balls are then let go and crash into the inside ball, and you can’t help but wince in terror when it happens. Immediately after Preston and Zach crash into him, Wee Man looks considerably dazed, hand to his head and not speaking until he asks if it looks like his head is bleeding. When asked how it felt, he replies “like a car crash.”
Down the Clown isn’t a particularly brutal stunt to watch until you get to the end and realize exactly what the guys just went through. Like a game you’d play at a carnival, the guys dress up as clowns and stand spaced out in a group, as a professional tennis player whacks balls at them at top speed in order to knock them down. The effect of just how hard she’s hitting the balls doesn’t really translate in the moment, even as Eric Andre and Johnny Knoxville double over in distress. It’s when the bit ends and Preston Lacy takes off his shirt to reveal a sickening, bullseye-shaped bruise on his stomach that you realize just how fucked-up that woman’s swing is (and over the end credits, we get another glimpse at Preston’s revolting bruise).
With hungry fish eagle in tow, Steve-O has fish placed in his ass and then lies on his stomach, ass facing the heavens, so that the bird can hobble over and feed straight from the source. If that wasn’t hard enough to watch—as the Eldritch-horror-looking creature snaps its piercing maw into Steve-O’s fish-filled asshole—the guys decide that Steve-O got off a bit too easily. They get the idea not only to shove the fish a little farther up his back, but to attach some to his testicles as well. The kicker is when the bit is finally over and Steve-O shows the camera his sliced-up backside and thighs from the bird’s talons repeatedly digging into his body.
Steve-O’s attempt at joining in on the condom drop viral challenge never quite goes as he planned, but it still makes for one of the harder-to-stomach bits of Jackass 4.5. The object of the original challenge is to fill up a condom with water and drop it on someone’s head, which causes the condom to envelop the person’s head. Naturally, a Jackass condom drop has a twist: Steve-O had spent a week not emptying out the sewage tank in his RV, saving it to fill up in a condom and drop on his own head. But issues crop up as Steve-O’s own branded condoms continue to burst with the sewage water, and the full ones don’t drop properly onto his head. Though a failed bit, it still results in multiple crew members blowing chunks, and new recruit Eric Manaka getting sprayed in the face with piss and shit water.
Danger Ehren’s cup test was the most gnarly part of Jackass Forever, and it was just as brutal as it looked on screen—the horrifying pogo stick cup test literally ruptured his right testicle. Other cup tests included getting hit with a softball hurled by a professional softball player, a hockey puck launched by (you guessed it) a professional hockey player, and a punch thrown by UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (proud owner of the hardest punch ever recorded). It’s no surprise that one more cup test made it into Jackass Forever: A bowling ball cup test, thrown by a professional bowler, with a 16-pound bowling ball to boot. The kicker? The first roll hits Ehren’s leg, so he’s forced to go through it again.
Despite the fact that I was not born with a penis, I cannot help but feel physical empathy for instances of penile torture. I mean, I have a crotch, don’t I? That said, the Penis Brick Game (it’s not given an official title during the bit) has to be one of the most horrific penis-based bits the Jackass crew has ever done. Four of the Jackass guys stand multiple feet off the ground with their dicks attached via rope to a brick. Two of the ropes are a little too short, and the guys have to throw their bricks down to see who got the short end of the penis brick rope. Of course, it’s obvious just by looking whose ropes are the shortest (Steve-O’s and Dave England’s). England’s penis is literally stretched out by the brick falling, and he felt that he came the closest he’s ever come to his penis ripping off.
Though Dark Shark Skydiving is overall the best and most satisfying bit of Jackass 4.5, Zach Sashimi is a close runner-up for being the most disgusting. The gang places pieces of sushi under Zach Holmes’ array of various bodily folds (including, naturally, his crotch and his ass). Then, they cover his body in Saran wrap, make him run and jump around to secrete an ample amount of sweat onto the fishy food and finish things off by having the Jackass members each pick a hidden piece of sushi and consume it. As a note, I revisited all the other bits for this list but I could not bring myself to revisit Zack Sashimi. I believe it features the most subsequent vomiting of any of the bits which comprise this film, and there’s an even more revolting epilogue: Zach sent filmmaker Jeff Tremaine a photo of an additional piece of sashimi he found on himself two days later. The photo is included in the film (don’t worry).
Truly, where to begin with Dark Shark’s skydiving prank? Possibly the greatest prank ever done in not just the history of Jackass, but the history of human civilization? A prank so good that the middle-aged prankee had a perspective-altering near-death experience despite never being in any real danger at all. Dark Shark is Jackass new blood Jasper Dolphin’s father: An ex-con who has nine bullet holes in him, and who is also profoundly afraid of simple things like birds and flying on an airplane. So, Jasper and the guys hatch a plan to have Dark Shark skydive, but make it seem that, while on the plane, everything is going wrong. The plane starts “smoking” and the pilot jumps out and “abandons ship.” When this all happens, Dark Shark truly believes that he is going to die. When he and his skydiving partner land safely on the ground, Dark Shark emerges a different man. Even his son notes that, after the experience, Dark Shark gained a more positive attitude and outlook. Who knew Jackass pranks could offer deep spiritual awakening?
Brianna Zigler is an entertainment writer based in middle-of-nowhere Massachusetts. Her work has appeared at Little White Lies, Film School Rejects, Thrillist, Bright Wall/Dark Room and more, and she writes a bi-monthly newsletter called That’s Weird. You can follow her on Twitter, where she likes to engage in stimulating discussions on films like Movie 43, Clifford, and Watchmen.