The Best Comedy of 2006
If the true measure of a comedy is how much it makes you laugh, then, to my mind, there is no better comedy this year (so far) than Jackass Number Two. I laughed, pretty much constantly, from credit sequence to credit sequence. The only movie that made me laugh more this year is The Wicker Man, but that's a horror movie and all the humor is uninintentional, so it doesn't count.
People call the Jackass guys dumb they are wrong. They have very poor judgment, they're a bit masochistic, and they are often off-puttingly grotesque (no one wants to see you put a fishing hook through your cheek, Steve-O, not even Chris Pontius). But they are not stupid. They are craftsmen, and they take what they do even if what they do is figure out inventive ways to hit each other in their nether regions very seriously. Without ruining the stunt, "The Strongman" gag is a great example of the group refusing to settle for a simple joke, and their willingness to continually tinker and improve something that isn't working until it is. In their own way, the Jackasses are perfectionists.
After ample success in traditional movie comedies, Jackass ringleader Johnny Knoxville could coast along on his infectious cackle and devil-may-care attitude hell, he's so big he could have sat out the sequel. But it's clear time and again that Knoxville is giving the project every ounce of his creativity and energy. Throughout he brings new meaning to the phrase "fearless leader": when the boys visit a shooting range and watch a display of a stun weapon, Knoxville convinces the timid Ryan Dunn and Bam Margera to take the hit (ironically, it's also Knoxville who is the least injured by the assault).
The boys enthusiasm is infectious, so it's difficult for me not to discuss a lot of it, but a lot of the fun is based on the element of surprise, so I'll hold my tongue. But let me say this: the musical number replete with intricate choreography, blasts from fire hoses, and headers from great heights at the end of the film is brilliant. Not stupid. Brilliant.
The title's all theirs for now, though a certain Kazakhstanian reporter looming in the distance may yet challenge for the crown.