Hello, I’m Elijah, and welcome to my Jackass article!!!!
For as young as I was, I’ll never forget that audible warning accompanied by bright red and white font against a black backdrop, followed by the familiar banjo strumming patterns that filled my dimly lit living room. It’s a nostalgic sound that can only be matched by the instrumental of “Hip Hop” by Dead Prez and an emcee introducing Dave Chapelle as the host of his self-titled sketch show. Since I was only born in 1994 and “Jackass: The Movie” premiered in 2002 (around when I also started watching the show), it’s pretty simple to do the math on that timeline. A time when I was way too young to be watching this type of content, but it was a bonding time with my father and I through non-stop laughter. A time before I realized that the brutality of a nut shot, or even the popping of a bubble produced from the gas of a professional farter, sounded the way it did because of the hard work of a Foley artist. Long before I appreciated the genuine film love they portrayed through their bits, like having Johnny recreate the legendary Buster Keaton house-falling stunt for the ending of “Jackass Number Two.” Decades before the cast and crew had any idea they would have six spin-off shows, six full-length motion pictures, and various forms of marketable entertainment. With the release of “Jackass Forever” last February and “Jackass 4.5” released exclusively on Netflix in May of last year, it seems like the original troop we’ve come to love in the previous 20+ years are finally bowing out to their bone-shattering ways. With a newer and younger team that were ready to step up to the plate and risk their bodies for the sake of the “Jackass” name for the last two installments, who knows if we will get more spin-off shows or continuations. I do know that I did love watching them and have officially watched every movie from the “Jackass” cast and crew (Jackass: The Movie – Jackass 4.5). With that, it’s time to rank them.
The challenge for me was narrowing this list to a top 10. I originally was going to make a top 25 list, but this article would have been too long for something written about men with pinpoint accuracy on nut shots. Between all of the official “Jackass” movies and the “.5” documentary-style installments, there are over 180 bits, stunts, and pranks. This does not include all the unnamed interludes and end-credit sequences. I also had to challenge myself to choose from different movies because if I didn’t, most of this list would be from “Jackass Number Two.” I forced myself to try to select at least two per movie. A couple of these are the best, some are my favorite, and one, in particular, I picked because it shouldn’t be overlooked. Here are my top 10 bits from the “Jackass” movies.
#10 – cajun obstacle course – Jackass 2.5 (2006)
You can see why this is on the cutting room floor due to how hard the guys went in “Jackass Part Two,” but it was still strong enough for it not to be lost entirely. They maneuver through a wave of paintball pellets and fast-flying fish and must finish their race by drinking a small spittoon jar of chewing tobacco. Delicious. I was surprised at how genuinely dangerous it was. The alligators they used for this bit they had to inch past weren’t large but were big enough to bite, and they did. I just enjoy hearing the guys talk about how much the stunts will suck before, during, and after they go through them. Especially Bam. His ability to be the most vocal of everyone during the scenario gets me every time.
#9 – april’s alligator – Jackass: The Movie (2002)
Imagine via Paramount Pictures
One thing I noticed while putting this list together was my love for pranks. Specifically, the ones where the crew feels like they are in genuine danger, and you can see it on their faces. In this classic prank, where I was first introduced to the Margera family, Bam makes it a mission to get his mom to curse on camera and does it by placing a giant reptile in her kitchen. It’s a classic that I think of every time “Jackass” is ever mentioned, and it had a guaranteed spot in the top 10. All I had to do was figure out where it would go. The gator is gone, but the list is forever.
#8 – poo cocktail supreme – Jackass 3
What makes this stunt great is what Chris Pontius says right before the scene cuts to black after it’s finished. He says, “I mean, that had it all. It had danger. It had shit. It had puke. I mean, that’s what this show’s all about.” Steve-O then points to his tight jorts, and Pontius continues, “… and sex appeal.” That perfectly sums it up. That’s why it’s a top 10. It had a cocktail (I had to, I’m sorry) of everything that made the Jackass crew who they were. Steve-O being propelled dozens of feet into the air with minimal protection, the GoPro footage of the liquidized feces blanketing Steve-O inside of the porta-potty, and the entire crew vomiting as the liquid from the porta-potty splatters across the grass below it, all in one short but a simple bit.
#7 – golf course airhorn – Jackass: The Movie
Imagine via Paramount Pictures
What can be said about this that hasn’t already been said 100 times? Another simple bit that couldn’t have cost more than $100 to create, with the budget going to camo outfits and two air horns. The highlight that always makes me laugh until my stomach hurts is when the two golfers they pissed off by distracting them with the airhorns, approach the Jackass crew, and threaten to “kick their ass,” but Johnny responds with, “sorry, I have bursitis,” without even skipping a beat. Incredible. *Chefs kiss*.
#6 – the high five – Jackass 3
“Jackass 3,” also known as “Jackass 3D,” came out around the time of the 3D craze in the 2010s. Technology that can give you an illusion of depth in the hands of the crew that swings around their flaccid penises and projectile vomits? It’s a no-brainer. This movie has numerous bits that put the 3D technology to good use, but this one was as simple as just being a prank that put unsuspecting grown men on their asses with the help of a giant swinging hand.
#5 – The Quiet Game – Jackass Forever
Imagine via Paramount Pictures
All the team has to do is stay quiet while wearing tight-fitting mime costumes to be the winner of this bit. It’s as simple as that. The outcome of this bit and the respect I gained for a grown man nicknamed “Poopies” allows it to sit so gracefully in the top 5. This bit felt like the official passing of the torch of the older generation to the younger with Sean Mclnerney, AKA Poopies, and his ability to commit to the danger and pain of the bit fully. At the same time, our beloved, seasoned, and former reckless veteran Steve-O just couldn’t keep up.
#4 – The Toro Totter – Jackass Number Two
After watching all of these movies simultaneously, one thing that stood out above all of the testicle-smashing, bone-breaking, and public hair-shaving; Johnny Knoxville was destined to be a star. It seems surreal to use that expression about a man willing to shoot himself on camera to test the durability of a bulletproof vest, but there’s no denying it. Aside from the charm, the laugh, and the signature hightop Chuck Taylors, Knoxville always ensures the crew gets the money shot. There’s a bit where Steve-O has a leech attached to his eye and isn’t holding his eye open enough or facing the camera while in pain, and Knoxville is visibly frustrated with the outcome. This would seem insolent if it weren’t for the fact that Johnny is willing to take the ultimate risk himself to make sure that the camera catches everything. This bit shows that. When everyone bows out from the danger of the charging bull by jumping off of the teeter-totter and hopping the fence, Johnny stays on and continues to exclaim, “I’m not out,” for an extra minute of footage. Pure dedication from our main man.
#3 – dark shark skydive – Jackass 4.5
This bit sets up for the usual crew antics and ends up being the most warm-hearted prank the team has put on screen. Newcomer, Jasper, knows his father, Dark Shark, is terrified of planes, so he sets him up to think that the plane they are jumping out of is crashing. Dark Shark is an OG Crip who has been shot several times, and he still considers this to be the scariest encounter he’s had in his life. After crying and praying his way to a safe landing, the Jackass crew embraced him with laughs and hugs. At the end of the day, no matter how over the top a Jackass prank can be, they always remind each other that they are a family.
#2 – Riot Control Test – Jackass Number Two
Imagine via Paramount Pictures
If my #1 pick didn’t exist, this would be the top pick without a second guess. This bit is a prime example of Knoxville having no fear when leading his soldiers into battle. Those soldiers were Ryan Dunn and Bam Margerea, and that battle was an explosive non-lethal mine that shoots approximately 700 45-caliber rubber balls at 500 feet per second. Not too bad, right? When Bam and Dunn are ready to pull out of being pelted with these rubber balls, Knoxville works his magic so they can overlook being turned into targets. Johnny stands right in the middle with the least amount of protection, continues to stay on his feet when Bam and Dunn fall next to him, makes sure he walks towards the camera while he is in pain, blankets Bam jokes while he cries in agony, and makes sure he blesses the camera with a stylish out-cue as they crossfade into the next bit.
#1 – “Silence of the Lambs” – Jackass 4
There probably is some recency bias here, and also the fact that I watched this in a packed theater, but this might be the hardest I’ve laughed at watching a Jackass bit. Knoxville sets up six members of the crew at three separate times to think he will be handling a rattlesnake in front of them. As they step out of the room to get mic’d up, he switches the dangerous reptile out with a fake one. When they come back into the room, the door is slammed behind them to start off what Johnny describes as “hell” in his iconic bit introduction, The lights are turned off to complete darkness, and this is where the audience gets a full understanding of the title of the bit. Johnny turns on his night vision goggles and follows the unsuspecting victims around this dark room in a basement. As he follows behind and throws things on them to terrify them into thinking they could be killed by a rattlesnake in the room, Chris Pontius dances around with his penis tucked in the vein of Buffalo Bill while Greenskeepers “Lotion” plays in the background of this mayhem. If you haven’t seen the very iconic movie “Silence of the Lambs,” I encourage you to do so as soon as you can. Not only because of how iconic the movie is but also to fully appreciate this prank.
Seeing how much fun everyone is having behind the scenes watching these guys suffer is what makes this so much fun. That is insane to type out, but it’s true. Sean Fennessey and Chris Ryan at The Big Picture Podcast made me realize I enjoy that because I feel like I am a part of the crew and enjoying it with them. I also appreciate a good needle drop, and that is what Jackass has been providing me for the last two decades. Music that I would have never found on my own, even if it is a song whose chorus melodically references a serial killer from a quintessential 90’s movie.
Elijah Horton is a Long Island born, Orlando-based writer and photographer. Since he was a kid, Elijah has had a deep passion for movies, music, and photography.
That passion led him to Full Sail where he graduated with a film degree and a desire to make a film of his own one day. For now he’s just pretty good at writing about them.