If laughter is indeed the best medicine, then the cinema's a cabinet jangling with mood-enhancers. So if Hugh Grant's a packet of Rennies (very mild, won't upset your stomach) and Jim Carrey's a bottle of castor oil (instant nausea), then what's Jackass? Easy. It's a rocket-pack suppository.
To say US critics have been unkind to Jackass: The Movie is something of an understatement (Variety declared it "the worst movie ever to hit the No1 spot"). Okay, so maybe their humour glands fizz to a different urge but that kind of dismissal just widens the generational chasm. After all, one man's crap is another kid's phenomenon.
You've only got to go back to the riots of Woodstock '99 to see that the passive introspection of Generation X has given way to Generation Vs-Up. Couple that with the delinquency of the anti-capitalist destruction derbys and you have new ingredients for the same old Molotov cocktail: anti-social, for-the-hell-of-it rebellion. The genius of Jackass is that it takes the same defiant elements and makes a custard pie out of them.
Born screaming out of skate culture's rogue punk streak, Jackass: The Movie is business as usual: a rapid pile-up of attention-deficit skits involving the humiliation of self-appointed patsies Knoxville, Steve-O, et al. Jackass has always been more punchbag than punchline but the masochism here is extreme even by their standards (you'll have to be made of concrete not to wince at the `Paper Cut' sketch). But then this is what it's all about: audience participation. See it and share in a cacophony of sniggers, howls and cringes.
Reeling off the stunts would be churlish but `Yellow Snow Cone' is magnificently juvenile and sick-trigger funny. Others, like `Golf-Cart Derby', are less so. Injuries happen, nobody dies and, despite adhering to the comedy-is-cruel maxim, each stunt's underpinned with an enthusiasm that makes Knoxville's 21st-century cavemen charming. Needless to say, if you like your comedy without the seat belt, you know where to queue.
You'll laugh. You'll hurl. You'll laugh again. The kind of comedy that sends a rogue slurp of cola gushing out of your nostrils, this is spectacularly puerile. Bring a bucket...