Oct. 25, 2013 at 8:38 AM ET
You probably know a guy who knows a guy who once jumped off something too high, or crashed in a shopping cart going too fast, or stuck something someplace in his body it didn’t belong. You can blame Johnny Knoxville for that.
A generation of caught-on-tape daredevils can almost certainly be traced to Knoxville, MTV’s original “Jackass.” From painful pranks to squirm-inducing stunts, Knoxville and his band of clowning stuntmen took “America’s Funniest Home Video” to the dark side. And if you’ve spent any time on YouTube watching things go horribly wrong in backyards and dorm rooms across the country, you’re aware of the lasting impact of “Jackass” — and that the “do not attempt this at home” disclaimer didn’t work.
Thirteen years after the series debuted, and three feature films later, Knoxville returns to the big screen with “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.” This time the series gives a nod to the trend toward fooling the unsuspecting and capturing it on hidden camera. “Borat” may have taken “Candid Camera” to a whole new level in 2006, but the Internet has taken the baton and run with it thanks to pranksters like Ed Bassmaster and RomanAtwood.
“Bad Grandpa,” which opens Friday, is gross-out humor for the non-grandparent demo — with the extra privilege of watching normal people get caught up in the action. If the idea of covering your eyes and crossing your legs sounds like a fun way to watch a movie, you’re probably already a fan of Knoxville. In service to that, we’ve rounded up and graded some of the more memorable “stunts” from a genre that started with a “Jackass.”
Private parts in the vending machine
In the "Bad Grandpa" trailer, Knoxville, in character as 86-year-old Irving Zisman, is having a little trouble with an outdoor vending machine. He seems to have, uh, jammed a sensitive part of his anatomy into the soda-dispensing area. "Jiggle my shoulders! Jiggle my shoulders!" he yells at the poor strangers who come to his aid — eventually revealing a prosthetic penis being stretched waaaaay past its limits.
Gross-out level: C. Something about Knoxville being in character as the elderly Zisman makes this more funny than gross.
Getting a tattoo while riding in an ATV
Most of us couldn't even write our name while riding around in a bumpy four-wheel-drive vehicle. Leave it to Steve-O to get a tattoo inked while he's being driven around on a bumpy trail by punk legend Henry Rollins in "Jackass: The Movie." The tattoo was supposed to be an innocent smiley face, but as you can see in the video, it came out looking a more like a demonic melting smudge. Props to the tattoo artist for making it look like anything at all.
Gross-out level: B+. Tattoo pain is old hat to Steve-O, but the permanence of this smeary scribble is kind of impressive.
The best "Jackass" pranks are the ones where your average viewer can envision exactly the kind of pain involved — we involuntarily shudder or cover our genitals in sympathy. That's what happens in "Jackass: The Movie," when Steve-O decides to snort the fiery Japanese condiment wasabi up his nose. Think it's not so bad? Steve-O's consumed some horrible things in his day, but it's the wasabi that makes him almost instantly vomit all over his nicely plated sushi.
Gross-out level: A. Oh, the fire, in sensitive nasal tissues nonetheless. But at least unlike the tattoo, this damage isn't permanent.
Hot Wheels Car takes a ride up Ryan Dunn
Beloved "Jackass" cast member Ryan Dunn, who died in 2010, tells a doctor he doesn't know what's wrong with him. Dunn lied, but X-rays can't. His shows a little Hot Wheels car sitting where the sun don't shine. "That is a car toy," the doctor says. "How did a car toy get there?" Dunn asks in mock amazement. "Maybe you stuck it up your (expletive)," the doc retorts.
Gross-out level: A. We don't want to think about how the car got in or out, but that X-ray itself is a thing of wonder.
Oh, we're really sorry to tell you about this one. Dave England eats the ingredients for an omelet, then throws them up and makes an omelet out of the results. Yes, he eats it.
Gross-out level: A+++++. The horrible happenings in this sketch are even weirder because England presents the whole deal while clad in formal chef's attire, delivering instructions as if he's a normal TV cook preparing a normal meal.
Bobbing for jellyfish
The title says it all.
Gross-out level: A+. Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow.