It's hard to imagine a more merry confluence of audience and medium: "Jackass," the prank-filled, deleterious TV series-cum-movie franchise-cum-lifestyle brand, and the Internet, home to skateboarding dogs and boys launching bottle rockets betwixt their buttocks. Stupid human tricks, you've come home.
Thus "Jackass 2.5," the 64-minute distraction that began streaming free Wednesday, filled with footage that didn't make the cut in "Jackass Number Two" (plus some between-scenes commentary from the stars). And if the realization that self-flagellation needs a degree of self-editing doesn't boggle the mind -- true jackassery, apparently, is a matter of curation -- consider that you're about to watch stunts deigned so ill-conceived that the Internet was considered the most appropriate venue. What are we, if not men of the people?
Examples of what you get: Fat Preston Lacy dressed up like King Kong and lurching at remote-controlled airplanes atop a Port-a-Potty. Bam Margera flying a kite with his butt. Two fellas trying to box in a conference room after being spun to dizziness in wheeled office chairs. "Straight to the DVD," says an onlooker at one point. "Straight to the DVD."
It's sometimes hilarious stuff, but it does feel like you're watching DVD extras tethered ever-so-loosely into a contiguous whole. Not that "Jackass" stunts need so much context. That's the genius of the series. It's high-margin inanity, nicely done.
But this is hardly worthy of the superlative "first broadband movie ever distributed by a major studio" as described by its co-producers, Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment and MTV New Media. What we have here is simply extra footage, along with the star jackasses explaining why the footage didn't make it into a real movie.
If the content feels a bit desultory, the registration hoops you have to jump through just to watch the film are an insult. Paramount/MTV and their partner, Blockbuster, decided to force all would-be viewers to download Microsoft Silverlight, which is little more than a competing version of Flash. After downloading the app and restarting your browser, you're then forced to register with your e-mail address and get the registered link from your inbox.
Only then can you watch the movie. But you're still stymied: The controls don't let you rewind or fast-forward the film. Not only is this obnoxious, it's intentional service degradation. Somebody please explain to the executives who decided upon this policy that the true joy of watching a fat man painted like a gorilla fall off a Port-a-Potty is watching it a second and third time in quick succession.
The signup and presentation system is quite a barrier to entry. It's reminiscent of Bud.tv, which failed to gain traction because of its onerous signup process. You can't give with one hand and take with the other, especially when the movie's being released on DVD and iTunes in two weeks.
I'd rather not spend my reviews dwelling on techie polemics. But unfortunately, these types of issues go hand in hand with the distribution mechanism. For my time and money, I'd rather wait for the DVD.
Congratulations, Paramount/MTV, you've somehow made the Internet less convenient.