Jackass Forever. 2022. USA. Directed by Jeff Tremaine. Courtesy Paramount Pictures/MTV Entertainment

Boys will be boys...will be boys. It’s one thing to acknowledge the fact that most middle-aged men slip on the banana peel of regressive adolescent behavior with pathetic predictability, it’s another thing entirely to gather all the bananas you can find and take a flying leap down a slippery mountain of idiotic pratfalls at age 50. Cue the confetti cannons and flying dildos, here come the (rapidly graying) Jackass boys!

Director Jeff Tremaine and the Pied Piper of penile pain, Johnny Knoxville, first delivered their juvenile yet irresistibly engaging hijinks on MTV 22 years ago. The circus became a movie franchise, and the clowns became cultural icons. Fans (many of them women) saw past the ridiculousness and embraced their unfettered and often emasculating brand of male bonding, which transmitted more affection and less toxicity than most bro-fests in popular media. These were nice guys having stupid fun together, and we could all laugh with them.

Jackass Forever

Jackass Forever

Now they have reunited, diversified their ranks, and bandaged their broken bits. (Knoxville once texted me a live shot from his surgery to repair phallic trauma—the act never ends!) Adding “aging” to the list of insane stunt factors makes total sense: It’s harder to run from the bull when your knees are shot! Who can see where the furious bees are stinging without your readers? Sagging scrotums allow for fabulous new contortive challenges—“Gonad Godzilla” you say? The Keystone Kops of the 21st century have entered the early-bird dining room, and they don't need to wear old-man prosthetics anymore!

There may be a point at which this actually becomes too painful to watch, but for now the guys still seem to be onto something—about the need to dispel the self-seriousness of masculinity, the nature of true toughness in an era of fake-tanned blowharderie, and suggestions for releasing all that stress-energy in ways that don’t (emotionally) hurt other people. We’ve seen a lot of true jackasses run rampant recently, most horrifyingly in our halls of government. I’d rather hear Steve-O complain about an errant poo-poo than hear that someone made Nancy Pelosi have to. I’m not saying Jackass is a cure for what ails us, but it sure is a comforting balm. Jackass Forever, indeed.

Jackass Forever screens on Saturday, December 31, as part of The Contenders 2022.