Jackass 3D Hit Cinemas 10 Years Ago Today
Ten years ago today, Jackass 3D was unleashed; a rude, crude, epic carnival of ‘danger, sh*t, puke… and sex appeal’.
MTV’s hardy band of pranksters and daredevils made their big screen debut in 2002. Eight years later, following their ascent to super-stardom around the world, the third instalment upped the ante: more vomit, insane stunts, a lot of slow-mo and ‘more production value of a movie’. Indeed, it was ‘the best of times’.
A decade on, UNILAD sat down with Jason ‘Wee Man’ Acuña to discuss the film. ‘It feels pretty crazy, doesn’t feel like it’s been 10 years since we’ve even done Jackass, but just for it to be Jackass 3 seems pretty crazy,’ he said.
It’s not as trendy now, but 3D technology had arguably reached its peak around the release of the third Jackass film. James Cameron’s Avatar released the year before, pioneering a new era beyond Friday the 13th and Sharkboy and Lavagirl gimmickry.
However, from the scantily clad, cannonball-blasting, paintball-shooting, trout-slapping, fan-smashing, dropkicking opening titles, adorned in a giant rainbow, one thing was clear: the kids were back and they had lots of toys, such as the 1,000fps Phantom high-speed cameras, used for slow-motion dildo shooting and Bam Margera’s Rocky punches.
Director Jeff Tremaine had a budget of $20 million to play with, a hefty $15 million increase from the first movie. ‘Every time we’ve done each one, there was a little bit more of an upscale to the previous one… it totally gave us more freedom,’ Wee Man said.
Fortunately, money didn’t corrupt the pureness of Jackass. The first real bit, the High-Five, sees Johnny Knoxville and Wee Man coax people into being walloped by a giant hand. It’s simple, stripped-back and probably the funniest prank of the franchise, from ‘He fell for the soup!’ to Bam’s floor-slam in a cloud of flour. Set-up, vibe, execution and uproarious reaction – priceless every time.
There’s wholesome hijinks like the Bungee Boogie and the Jet Engine, gross-out masterpieces like the Sweat Suit Cocktail and straight-up torture with Electric Avenue and Beehive Tetherball.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Poo Cocktail Supreme, the sequel to Johnny Knoxville’s pilot Poo Cocktail 20 years ago. This time though, Steve-O is strapped into a portable toilet filled with faeces, pee and god knows what else, before being launched into the air with bungee chords. It’s a disgusting, awe-inspiring spectacle, the likes of which had never been tapped.
As for keeping a strong stomach on set, Wee Man says it never gets easier, urging that while the ‘Poo Cocktail Supreme was pretty bad… Poocano was the worst, when they painted [Dave England’s] butt to look like a mountain.’ Somehow, without an enema, he sh*ts with such propulsion that his poop goes three feet in the air.
Wee Man continued:
You’re in this warm studio room, when he did it, it smelled horrible. For nauseating, that was one of the worst.
He just held it in for a while, until we had to shoot the bit. Every morning you wake up and you gotta take a shit… he had to wait until everything was done and cameras were on set. Once everything was done, that’s when he just let loose. He seriously put his butt in there and was like: ‘Okay let’s go, press record!’
Among the guest stars, like Tony Hawk and The Dudesons, the boys brought American Pie’s Seann William Scott in for a glimpse of the Jackass life. ‘They think we call them on there just to f*ck with them the whole time,’ Wee Man laughed.
When asked about his worst experiences, he says, ‘It’s always anything that’s done to your nuts’ – a common thread of their mischief. ‘It’s high-anxiety being around the boys all the time. You notice we’re all standing around covering our nuts all the time, making sure nobody’s gonna come kick or punch us in the nuts.’
However, Wee Man’s favourite moment was the bar fight. ‘People were tripping when that came out. Not only did this little guy come in to fight me, he brought little people back-up, then little people cops come in. The funniness kept building and building, it was getting out of control. We just showed up to the bars and did it. No-one was warned, no-one was told anything,’ he recalled.
During set-up in the first bar – if you look closely, you can see it was two different venues – one of Wee Man’s buddies was sitting at the bar. After they chatted, another member of the crew had to go up to him and say: ‘Hey, don’t jump in, it’s gonna be fine.’
As to what happens to the punters afterwards, Wee Man shrugs, saying: ‘Who knows? People just go through life realising, did I just f*cking see that? Did that really just happen to me today? I dunno, maybe some people go buy lottery tickets, they feel they’ve just seen the craziest thing in the world.’
The film’s end credits, with the cast belting out the chorus of Weezer’s Memories, was already emotional. A year later, Ryan Dunn passed away, adding a bittersweet layer to its pathos. ‘All the memories, how can we make it back there, back there… I want to be there again.’
Understandably, Wee Man doesn’t think about it much. ‘We don’t watch our stuff all the time. Once we film, we’re good, we move on. I can see for fans how they’d get that feeling.’
Not that they don’t keep in touch. ‘Half of them I talk to daily,’ he said. ‘We text each other something, tell each other funny stories or catch up. Something happens all the time and we contact each other.’
Preston Lacy, Wee Man’s most frequent compadre for numerous big-and-small skits, is also his closest pal off-screen. ‘During this pandemic, we were just sitting around so we were like, f*ck it, let’s go on trips together! We’ve travelled together, we’ve had a blast together.’
With all three movies being added to Netflix, plus their 2.5 and 3.5 counterparts, Jackass is always getting ‘bigger and bigger because people are more and more able to see it… the more we’re putting it into people’s eyes, every day it grows more and more. It’s insane,’ he said.
Of course, some just pop the films on for a humorous distraction, something to fill the void during a drink with friends. Others find sanctuary in its painful, vulgar, inspiring hilarity.
Recounting one particularly heartfelt story, Wee Man said:
There was this family with a grandfather who pretty much was almost a vegetable, he couldn’t talk much. He was alive though, and they always brought him around family things and stuff.
One time he was in the living room, and the kids took over the TV and put Jackass on. They looked over at their grandpa and he was smiling so big. He didn’t even say much, but tears came out of his eyes. That was one of the happiest moments in their lives, so they all went and bought the DVDs and played them over and over because they thought it was the best thing to make grandpa super happy.
Jackass getting people through rough times in their lives is something he’s told regularly. For me, it was an escape from the throes of my teenage years, a constant solace away from the misery of school.
Of course, the stunts are amazing. But it’s the group’s camaraderie – the laughs, the smiles, the triumphs of body and mind they share, the love they have for one another despite constant cruelty and rotating apathy – that makes the third film, and the series as a whole, what it is. They’ve taught me more about friendship than school ever did.
Jackass 4 was officially announced in 2019, due to be released sometime next year. Expectedly, Wee Man couldn’t reveal any details, firmly saying: ‘There’s nothing right now.’
Maybe it was PR-instructed parroting, perhaps it was just the reality of COVID-19 – nevertheless, when they do return, we’ll all fall under the spell of their messy glory once more.
‘It’s like a band,’ Wee Man said. ‘You know when a band is really good? And the band is good together, that’s just how it is. You can’t force a Black Sabbath or Metallica together… they just happen.’
Jackass 4 is set for release on September 3, 2021.
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