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What to Stream on Netflix and Amazon This Weekend: Jackass Edition

Photo: Paramount; MTV

This weekend, as you search for a movie to watch, you can either go see Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa or stay home and pick one of approximately 14 billion options available to stream over a variety of services, be it Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, On Demand, or other sites. Every Friday, Vulture tries to make life easier by narrowing it down to a handful of heartily recommended options. This week, we feature the best installment of the stunt series, a pair of Jackass-worthy documentaries, and a vicious Finnish import.

Jackass Number Two
The first Jackass movie (also available on Netflix) successfully translated Johnny Knoxville, director Jeff Tremaine, and producer Spike Jonze’s skater-inspired stunt show to the big screen. But the pinnacle of their work as violent, self-inflicting clowns is Jackass Number Two, in which a higher production budget allowed all of their dreams to come true. And that’s how the process worked; Bam Margera would have a dream, draw it in crayon, fax it to the L.A. offices, and a few days later, Wee Man would be bungie-jumping off of a bridge, tethered only to their obese friend Preston. Many write off Jackass as being the definition of contemporary immaturity — trivial, lowest-common-denominator entertainment. But in Jackass Number Two, the crew stages stunts in the vein of Chaplin and Keaton. The latter dropped the side of a house on himself. Steve-O jabs a fishing hook through his cheek and casts himself off into shark-infested waters. Same thing, basically. (Available on Netflix, Amazon)

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia
Knoxville and Tremaine produced this documentary on the notorious White family of Boone County, West Virginia, a clan that puts Jackass’s faux-rootin’-tootin’ mischief to shame. The Whites are painted as the worst-case-scenario product of coal country: living in poverty, drawn to criminal activity, and dependent on illegal substances. Director Julien Nitzberg followed his electric cast of characters for one year. In that time, they burn themselves to the ground. That’s routine. At first, it’s easy to enjoy their “yokel” behavior — it borders on parody. But quickly The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia stumbles into darker and darker violent and drug-addled scenarios that feel even more possible in today’s economic climate. (Available on Amazon)

The Birth of Big Air
Biker Mat Hoffman is a staple of the Jackass franchise (he appears in Number Two to ride a rocket bike into a lake). He’s also a legend of the BMX circuit, garnering acclaim for his vertical ramp riding, a career he began at the age of 15. Tremaine directed this ESPN “30 for 30” on his friend, an insightful exploration into an athletic subculture. Hoffman turned death-defying into a bankable circuit — there may not be an X-Games without the two-wheeled daredevil. Not every BMX biker shares Hoffman’s willingness for Jackass-level stunt work, but they’ll bow down to his glory. (Available on Netflix, Amazon)

The Dudesons Movie
If Jackass is like a live-action Tom & Jerry cartoon, the show’s Finnish counterpart The Dudesons is like a live-action Itchy & Scratchy. After four seasons of television in Finland and a brief stint on MTV (The Dudesons in America, produced by Knoxville), Jukka, Jarno, Jarno, and Hannu-Pekka stepped up their game for a feature. It’s highly disturbing and unexpectedly insightful. The Finnish backdrop provides its own twists — it’s quite cold in the Nordic country and the Dudesons take full advantage — and the gritty production quality adds to the danger. Lighting a guy’s head on fire or plummeting down a cliffside in a barrel may sound tame, but the Dudesons welcome chaos to the process. And the way the boys tell it in cutaway interviews, their self-destructive instinct is native to the Finnish people. With desolate nature around them, they bide time by shotgunning each other with riot bullets. (Available on YouTube)

The Best of Netflix, Amazon: Jackass Edition