Getting a kick out of stupidity

with jackass 3d breaking box-office records, johnny knoxville took his victory tour to dublin. paul byrne dons his helmet and codpiece

Paul Byrne

It was supposed to be a fond farewell, a bruised buddies reunion, a final fling into the jet-stream, but then Jackass 3D went and pulled in $50,353,641 over its opening weekend in the US. Which is about $30,353,641 more than anyone had expected. Or, in the case of those responsible, dared hope for.

The previous two Jackass big-screen offerings had both debuted around the $25m mark, give or take, and, if anything, expectations were considerably lower this time out, given that everyone's favourite self-harmers hadn't really been on any screen, big or small, for four years.

The years haven't been kind to the likes of Steve-0, Bam Margera, the ever-expanding Preston Lacy and -- thanks to his marriage in 2004 to Irish gal Claire Nolan -- former Blackrock resident Chris Pontius. Right now though, the lads are on a world victory tour, like a bunch of old friends whose weekend in Vegas saw them hit the house jackpot. As they jump from country to country, the cameras are rolling, with footage of their stunningly juvenile candid camera moments all vying for space on next January's DVD release, Jackass 3.5.

It's the morning after the night before, when Knoxville -- the BT Barnum of the gang -- and co set out to paint Dublin a few more shades of green. Having the vertically challenged Jason 'Wee Man' Acuna dress up as a leprechaun set the tone for the debauched evening. It helps, of course, that most of the crew are, like Knoxville himself, ex-stunt men.

PAUL BYRNE: So, Jackass 3D has become the biggest October opener in US cinema history -- make you proud, or do you despair?

JOHNNY KNOXVILLE: Makes me proud to be an American, knowing that the simple acts of stupidity are still a lot of people's idea of a good time. People like to see other people doing dumb things.

PB: This is clearly a case of smart people doing dumb things. Should we start writing a thesis or two on why that has proven so popular, especially 10 years after the novelty should have worn off?

JK: I think you could write 1,001 theses on the success of this movie, and still not quite come to any other conclusion than it's just funny. People want to laugh, especially when times are tough, and they don't always need to have a subtext about the state of the world. And we do laugh our guts up quite a few times. At other times, we simply puke our guts up.

PB: It's been argued that Jackass is The Three Stooges of our time. That it works on so many levels. Agree?

JK: It works on two levels -- being really, really stupid is inherently funny. And being really, really stupid in 3D for a multiplex audience is just, kinda bonkers. We're cuckoos in the nest here, a creation that seems tailor-made for the internet. Yet, here we are, breaking box-office records.

PB: I'm guessing many of these ideas come to you at about 4am, when you really should have gone to bed . . .

JK: The ideas can happen anywhere, to be honest. Sometimes, you're all riffing on ideas, and something sticks, but then, just as easily, you can be walking your kids in the park, and you just see something that sparks a ridiculous notion.

PB: This might be a franchise that isn't about to die any time soon . . .

JK: I don't know where Jackass will go from here. The opening certainly took us all by surprise, and there is a definite temptation to take it even further now. But it will all depend on how we feel, and if there is enough genuine enthusiasm to go for it again. There's a four-year gap between each of the Jackass movies, so, you know, let's see what happens in another four years.

PB: You're not far off the point of having little or no make-up needed when you're doing your dirty old grandad routine...

JK: Absolutely. It used to take about three or four hours to apply my old-man make-up; now it just takes half an hour. Most of the work has already been done by mother nature. I guess there really isn't a time limit on this kind of messing around, but the stunts themselves, you have to think like a boxer. There's only so much abuse a body can take, and you'll suddenly find that wounds aren't healing quite as fast anymore. If at all.

PB: You seemed to have quite a bit of fun in Dublin with former local Chris to point you to all the best Dublin pubs . . .

JK: We had a blast, and we got some great footage. We were frightened coming over here. It felt like we were trying to bring country music to Nashville. You guys have drunken lunacy down to a fine art, and we were proud to be a part of it for one night.

Jackass 3-D is in cinemas