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DID YOU READ

“Jackass 3D,” Reviewed

“Jackass 3D,” Reviewed (photo)

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I love how I feel after a “Jackass” movie. My chest hurts from laughing too much, my throat is sore from screaming. It feels like you ran a marathon, albeit a marathon that involved a lot of exposed male genitalia. In a cinematic landscape littered with forgettable mediocrities, “Jackass 3D” is a reminder of what it is like to really feel something at the movies: happiness, or shock, or repulsion, or jubilation, or all of these things at once. Director Jeff Tremaine, producer Spike Jonze, star Johnny Knoxville, and the rest of the “Jackass” gang may be a lot of things: pranksters, morons, bad influences, debauchers, exhibitionists, geniuses. These are matters of opinion. But regardless of opinion, one fact remains inarguable: they are not boring.

As before, this latest “Jackass” is a collection of unconnected pranks, sketches, stunts, pratfalls, and weiner jokes. Unlike before, the decidedly low-tech “Jackass” aesthetic, born of ’90s skater videos and daredevil home movies, has been married to some extremely high-tech equipment, specifically the Phantom high-speed camera. It shoots 1,000 frames of film a second and turns images of dudes getting hit in the face with fish or shot in the gut with cannonballs into beautiful, slo-mo ballets of rippling flesh.

There is 3D, some of it refreshingly in-your-face — I, for one, will never look at a party noise maker the same way again — but the boys haven’t radically altered their approach to suit their newfangled equipment. There are still pranks on the unsuspecting public, most of them now done by Knoxville in old man makeup since he’s too recognizable otherwise. There are still impressive feat of daredevil stuntwork, like Ryan Dunn facing off against the exhaust pipe of a fighter jet. There are still quasi-scientific experiments on the pain threshold of the human body, as when “Danger Ehren” McGehey performs tooth extraction by speeding Lamborghini. And there are still enough exposed penises to send shivers down Carl Paladino’s spine. I think the first “Jackass” film is still the strongest, but all three are extremely well-assembled, and this latest collection of craziness is another worthy addition to the series’ canon. There’s never a dull moment.

Some hyperbolically compare the comedy of “Jackass” to the work of silent film comedians like Chaplin and Keaton and Lloyd. There are limits to the comparison: Knoxville and company lack their predecessor’s refinement, obviously, as well as their dexterity with narrative and character (the closest “Jackass 3D” comes to a story is Bam Margera’s ongoing quest to punch unsuspecting crew members in the face). But at its most basic, the pleasure of “Jackass” is the same pleasure of those silent greats: watching men put their lives on the line for the sake of their art and admiring the beauty of bodies in motion. A skit like “Duck Hunting,” where the cast line up in boats with paintball guns to shoot Steve-O and then Dunn as they plummet to the earth, epitomizes both. Watching Dunn cartwheel slowly through the sky 40-plus feet above the ground as his buds pelt him with paint filled capsules is a sight to behold.

Though every “Jackass” movie is guaranteed to receive an R-rating for language, nudity, and assorted other filth — you don’t see a lot of PG-13 rated movies with “poop volcanos” — there is a purity and even a bit of innocence to “Jackass.” In the age of irony, the Jackasses are the keepers of the flame of sincerity in comedy (their so-called “raunchy” comedy is also surprisingly sexless). Everything they do, they do with an earnestness and a purity of spirit. You think it’s easy to do a poop joke? Try to make one as good as that poop volcano. There is a reason these men have thrived for so long in a world where any moron with a Flip Video can hit their dad in the nuts and get on YouTube. They are simply the best at what they do. The most creative, the most innovative, the funniest, the most daringly stupid, and the most stupidly daring.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.