It is a simple film, yet deceptive in its simplicity, as it masks a number of enduring cultural themes: familiar relations, friendship and comraderie, the relationship between man and nature,
and running into hard objects at very fast speeds. Occasionally they fall on hard objects at fast speeds too, or get hit with hard objects, insert hard objects into their body, or... but let's not get bogged down in petty details.
In one scene, the beauty and fragility of the American wild is evinced as one of the merry pranksters puts a fully-grown crocodile into his parents house. And yet, the scene is heartfelt, too: the jolly jape is is merely carried out in order to get his mother to say 'fuck' for the purposes of the film. Thus the great and noble tradition of the family in culture ('Little House on the Prairie', 'Tom Sawyer', 'The Simpsons') is continued.
In another touching family scene, another of the chaps bursts into the toilet while his rather corpulent father squats upon the john, screaming and shouting. He then removes the shirt from the back of his pater familias, who continues to squat there in a Buddha-like position. After some moments, a thought occurs to the old fellow, and he calls to his wife: "I think the boy is finally losing it."
This is not to say, however, that this movie does not touch upon the stylistic works of other artists. For instance, in the scene 'Monster Truck Disco', the chaps dance to disco music in the back of a truck that is cutting corners at very fast speeds. This scene is at once a tribute to the work of Gloria Gaynor, in that Gloria Gaynor had something to do with disco music. And yet it also references the work of Jean Paul Sartre and his fellow existentialists: for although the chaps are dancing to disco music in the back of a truck driving at very fast speeds, we do not know why they are doing it.
In several other scenes, the thriving cultural influences of Asia are referenced, as the fellows dance semi-naked through the streets of Japan, or roller-skate through the streets of Japan dressed as gigantic pandas (see Fig 1, above.)
There is also a scene where one of the lads rolls through a room full of loaded mouse traps to a gigantic cheese, while dressed in a large mouse suit. Note the significance of production details like costume: in this scene, the large mouse suit is very important, in that it is what the lad is wearing as he rolls through the mouse traps.
And yet, for all this, the movie is unpretentious. Time and again, it returns to the simple joys: seeing the lads put sharks into their underpants, give one another bungie-wedgies, punch and kick one another, get fired at with live ammunition, place firecrackers in their neither regions, put crocodiles on their nipples, and drive at very fast speeds about abandoned parks into gigantic plastic animals.
In years to come, when my grandchildren sit upon my knee and ask me whether I saw Jackass: The Movie, I will squint my eyes, look far back into the past, puff on my pipe reminiscently, and say, "Yes: I saw Jackass: The Movie. Which is to say I was in the room and the television was on at that time. How dare you ask your grandfather questions like that? And did you see my dentures this morning? And have you remembered to sign up for Chairman Rudd's youth rally? You know what the party will do if you don't go. And was it you that put the crocodile in my old folks home bathroom yesterday?"
And we will all laugh.
UPDATE: Just cross-posted this here.