Sitting through "Jackass 3D" was the worst 90 minutes I've spent in a movie theater. Hands down, no contest, ever. I can't imagine a more disgusting, stupid, pointless movie ever making it to mainstream theaters.
At least, I hope this is as low as mainstream movies ever sink.
I'm no prude, and as a rule I don't base movie recommendations on how moral the movies are. My job is to judge how well the movie is made and whether it is entertaining for the type of movie it is.
But this movie is so offensive I'm finding it hard to write about it in those terms.
However, just for a moment, let me assess the filmmaking and entertainment value of "Jackass 3D": it sucks. And that's as politely as I can put it. The cast and crew didn't earn-nor do I think they want-any more respect than that.
For those who have never seen a Jackass production (and oh, how I envy you), the Jackass television and movie series features a group of grown men who "perform" pranks and stunts and anything that will gross out their audience. That's it. That's the whole basis of this multimillion-dollar franchise.
I hadn't looked at any of the Jackass stuff since around 10 years ago when they first came onto MTV. I had a general idea of what to expect: a series of pranks and staged pratfalls - in other words, I knew this was going to be stupid.
But I had no idea that I would see things that, once upon a time, could only be seen in illegal clubs and on X-rated websites. Think I'm exaggerating?
I'll be professional enough to not reveal specifics, but "Jackass 3D" features "skits" that could rightfully be considered scat fetish, self-mutilation, bestiality and other types of cruelty to animals. One segment after another shows human feces, urine, vomit (so much vomit) and more full frontal male nudity than I have ever seen in something not labeled as pornography.
I've never understood the draw of these idiots who all suffer from a demented case of Peter Pan syndrome. As the people around me were laughing at "Jackass 3D," I felt like the main character in "Idiocracy."
The entire Jackass phenomenon is one long hazing ritual. The guys take turns being the target of genuinely dangerous stunts. Everyone laughs at the latest victim, and the butt of the joke is supposed to laugh, too.
Gee, sounds a bit like bullying, doesn't it? That's yet another way the movie is irresponsible.
It's tempting to condemn "Jackass 3D," the movie itself and the swindlers who made it. But I believe in their right to make this movie. That's freedom of expression.
However, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), who rates all movies, has some serious explaining to do. What logic gives "Jackass 3D" an "R" rating, while "Hatchet II," which features obviously fake violence, is forced to go into theaters unrated and "Blue Valentine" is slapped with an NC-17 rating because of an apparently steamy love scene?
Pray tell, how do real acts of depravity and images so disturbing they shock even me, who has sat through plenty of NC-17 and unrated movies, merit a milder rating than those movies? Half the time, I felt like I was watching a snuff film.
The rest of the time I felt like Alex from "A Clockwork Orange," trapped by a straightjacket, eyes clamped open, being subjected to psychological torture.
But the thing that baffles me most about "Jackass 3D"? It now holds the record for the best October opening weekend ever.
Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.