Reviewing "Jackass Number Two" as a movie is like reviewing polyester as food: It's really not meant to be in the category.
But sometimes, life as a movie critic requires an otherwise reasonable person to totter over to a multiplex and take careful notes while watching a group of oddly grinning men get branded on the buttocks, or pour beer into bodily orifices not usually used for such purpose, or drink things that were not meant to be drunk. One of the more positive things I can say about "JNT" is that it serves the function of a crash diet: After seeing it, you will not want to eat again for a very, very long time.
Essentially "JNT" (and the previous movie and TV show) is a series of stunts, most of which are extremely dangerous, stomach-churningly disgusting or both. The more-or-less interchangeable guys appear as themselves: agreeable doofuses ready for anything. (Why do they risk life, limb and stomach on a regular basis? Is this just what guys who don't have girlfriends do in their spare time? Note to self: Stop asking questions. Just move on. And don't think about eating, or about that scene involving the horse.)
OK, to get to the point: Is it funny? Sure, at times — bits like the animal-costumed roller-skating crashes, or when a guy in a devil costume is spewed forth onto a sidewalk with a sign reading, "Keep God Out of California," are funnier than much of what passes for comedy these days. And its closing song-and-dance number, which borrows a song from "La Cage aux Folles" (huh?), is weirdly endearing.
But mostly, it's just incredibly stupid — which is, of course, the point. "Jackass" celebrates stupidity, in its tasteless, jovial way. In one scene, one guy shows his newly branded behind to his horrified mother (one of the very few women shown on screen — this is, for better or worse, an entirely male universe), while another random Jackass apologies for not holding the burning rod steady. "But why would you burn him in the first place?" asks Mom, who apparently didn't get the memo. "Because it's funny?" offers somebody.
Watch "Jackass Number Two" at your own risk. One person's funny is another person's ... well, maybe you don't want to know.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com