It’s been over 20 years since Jackass debuted on MTV, lasting a total of three seasons and leaving a massive impact on pop culture in its aftermath, eventually spawning several movies and spinoffs. Born out of the ’90s and 2000s skate culture that brought together its creators — Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze, and Johnny Knoxville — Jackass is as much a prank show as it is a fun way of capturing masculinity and brotherhood in their rawest forms. The 2002 movie was wildly successful, making nearly $80 million on a $5 million budget and resulting in two sequels, the 2013 spinoff Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, and the spinoff shows Wildboyz, starring Chris Pontius and Steve-O, and Viva La Bam, starring Bam Margera. While it may have inspired the younger generation to try and replicate the magic of Jackass, especially in the age of YouTube and social media, no attempts have quite managed to match the energy of the franchise.
Jackass wouldn’t be as successful as it is if the group’s members weren’t so vulnerable and comfortable with one another. The Jackass crew — including ringleader Knoxville, Steve-O, Pontius, Margera (who will not be appearing in the newest installment), Dave England, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, Preston Lacy, Ehren McGhehey (a.k.a. Danger Ehren), and the late Ryan Dunn — have dedicated (and risked!) their lives to entertaining audiences for well over two glorious decades. Beneath all the extreme stunts involving male genitalia, wild animals, and explosives, the heart of Jackass lies with the fact that it’s about the camaraderie between a group of tight-knit dudes who express their love for one another through torturous situations.
In a world clouded by blockbuster franchises revolving around idealistically portrayed people, Jackass remains a bright light of pure, gleefully entertaining cinema that never takes itself too seriously. In celebration of Jackass Forever’s long-awaited release in theaters this weekend, we ranked every Jackass movie from worst to best.
The Jackass movies, with the exception of Jackass Forever, are streaming on Paramount+. Jackass Forever is now playing in theaters.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013)
Depending on whom you ask, the “Bad Grandpa” skits throughout the Jackass franchise are either the weakest elements or the funniest. A few years after the third — and final, at the time — Jackass installment, Knoxville and director Jeff Tremaine made a movie dedicated to expanding upon the recurring bits formally introduced in Jackass Number Two. In those segments, Knoxville dresses up as his alter ego, an 86-year-old man named Irving Zisman, to solicit responses from unsuspecting strangers in public. Bearing all the hallmarks of a Jackass production, Bad Grandpa’s biggest weakness is that it attempts to include a narrative à la Borat, with Jackson Nicoll playing Irving’s 8-year-old grandson, Billy, as they go on a road trip to North Carolina. It does, of course, have its funny moments and ends on a strong note with the beauty-pageant-skit finale. With that being said, it must be pointed out that Bad Grandpa is an Academy Award–nominated movie (for makeup and hairstyling), making Jackass an Oscar-nominated franchise.
Bad Grandpa .5 (2014)
Part making-of feature, part deleted-scene compilation, Bad Grandpa .5 offers us a deep dive into the challenges that come with doing pranks in public (getting the cops called on you, for example) and the process of using heavy makeup and prosthetics to transform Knoxville into Irving. What makes this a pinch better than the actual Bad Grandpa movie is that it gives us much more footage of Catherine Keener as Irving’s wife, Ellie, who had initially made an underutilized appearance in Bad Grandpa only as a corpse. Another highlight is the return of Jonze’s iconic Gloria, an elderly woman who goes on not-so-successful dates with random men found through Craigslist and then begins lactating in front of them. If there should be any additional Jackass movies made in the future, one centering on Gloria would be worth watching. Despite how stupid and, frankly, unnecessary .5 is, it still makes you burst out laughing, almost in disbelief.
Jackass 2.5 (2007)
By 2007, Knoxville & Co. had realized that they had enough footage to string together a feature-length documentation of the mayhem behind the making of Jackass Number Two. From here on out, every Jackass movie was accompanied by an additional film compiled of more stunts, outtakes, and behind-the-scenes clips. It’s understandable why some of the stunts we see here didn’t make it to the final cut since many don’t quite have the same spark as the ones that clearly worked best. While Jackass 2.5 is practically a glorified DVD extra, it still manages to offer us numerous hilarious and memorable moments, such as Margera flying a kite out of his ass with anal beads, and makes us realize just how much we’ve seen Steve-O throw up (far too many times).
Jackass 3.5 (2011)
Using the same documentary-esque formula established by 2.5, Jackass 3.5 splices together the unused footage from the third movie with behind-the-scenes interviews for another random yet entertaining installment. This time, it spends much more of its time getting to know each member of the crew, leaning into the more joyful and silly corners of the production as we see moments of genuine love and friendship between the group, particularly between Margera and Dunn. While Jackass 3.5 is lighter in its use of animals and completely bonkers stunts, it remains just as wickedly dangerous and childish as the movies that came before it.
Jackass Forever (2021)
Arriving a little over 11 years after the last sequel and over 20 years since the original show’s premiere, the core crew, now all well into their 40s, return for one last installment that lives up to the legacy of its predecessors and unsubtly passes the torch to a new gang. It recruits younger members into the mix, including Sean “Poopies” McInerney, Jasper Dolphin, Zach Holmes, Rachel Wolfson, and Eric Manaka, who never seem out of place despite being at least a decade younger than Knoxville et al. — they are, after all, part of the generation that grew up watching Jackass. This time around, the pranks are still cruel, dangerous (Knoxville tempts fate once again by battling a bull, which leaves him with a mountain of injuries, including brain damage), painfully funny, and involve a lot more penises. Jackass Forever manages to circle back to some of its most iconic stunts while also introducing new ones in the most creative ways, although it does seem to hit its peak a little too early on. Most important, it digs into the core of what has always made the Jackass movies truly great: a group of guys (and, now, one woman) messing around with — and completely trusting — one another. The world might be full of madness, but at least Jackass is forever.
Jackass: The Movie (2002)
There isn’t a movie that encapsulates the Dudes Rock canon, 2000s America, and the paradoxes of masculinity more perfectly than the first Jackass installment. The one that started it all, Jackass: The Movie, captures the essence of the TV show, bearing its lo-fi home-video aesthetic reminiscent of skateboarding videos, and improves upon it. The film’s greatest strength is that it takes the show, which was restricted by MTV in terms of what could and couldn’t be done on television, and turns the dial up to 11 by going all out with more extreme stunts. “Golf-Course Air Horn” is such a simple prank but remains a timeless classic (“I’m sorry, I’ve got bursitis” lives in my mind rent free); the paper-cuts stunt remains undoubtedly worse than every horror movie ever made, and anyone who can manage to endure it without covering their eyes or fully skipping over it seriously deserves a medal.
Jackass 3D (2010)
A throwback to when watching movies in 3-D was so popular that even Jackass was shot to accomodate a release in the 3-D format! Jackass 3D, which marked the original end to the franchise, reminds us that the gang is always willing to push boundaries even further than before, returning with more physical comedy and gross stunts. No matter the amount of juvenile pranks we witness, it still remains deeply entertaining and is bound to both make you gag multiple times and put a massive smile on your face. Jackass 3D is much more lighthearted and wholesome than the previous movies, perhaps because every member performed the stunts sober in support of Steve-O, who was sober after years of substance abuse. As much as it is a foolish movie about men putting themselves in extreme danger for the sole purpose of entertaining us and making one another laugh, Jackass 3D also manages to be an honest portrayal of male friendship and positive masculinity.
Jackass Number Two (2006)
This follow-up improves upon the formula of the series and Jackass: The Movie, combining body horror with pure comedy to craft a consistently balanced cinematic achievement. The stunts have gotten even more elaborate, outrageous, and gross, which makes the final result funnier as hell. Number Two places a stronger focus on the guys just goofing around with one another through increasingly over-the-top creative stunts, such as “Beehive Limo,” “The Gauntlet,” and “Toro Totter,” while making public pranks involving bystanders less frequent occurrences. The fact that John Waters and Tony Hawk make appearances also contributes to its overall greatness, as does the showstopping final musical number. As mentioned before, dudes rock!