JACKASS: NUMBER TWO If your face doesn't immediately light up at the thought of Johnny Knoxville launching himself airborne on the back of a giant rocket, or Chris Pontius slipping a sock puppet of a mouse on his dick before inserting it into a hungry snake's lair, or Steve-O jamming a fish hook through the side of his mouth and hurling himself into shark-infested waters—then Jackass Number Two is definitely not for you. As for me, I can't wait to see it again. Like its 2002 cinematic predecessor and the 2000-2002 MTV series that preceded it, JNT consists of Knoxville and company testing their dude-worthiness by way of increasingly absurd and/or dangerous stupid human tricks, and occasionally turning their havoc on the general public (producer Spike Jonze walks the streets of LA disguised as an elderly woman whose sagging breasts won't stay put). Admittedly as ambush comedians, the gang lacks the political subversiveness of a Borat or an Ali G. But as merry pranksters they have no match, and as they age (Knoxville is 35 now), they only grow in appeal. Proudly hurling their tattooed (by ink and battle scars) bodies into harm's way, a devilish glint in their eyes, it's as if they've discovered the fountain of youth, and its name is Jackass. (Scott Foundas) (Countywide) Related story: Greg Stacy offers an appreciation of Jackass.
MAN PUSH CART Shaped like a relentless blues chant, Ramin Bahrani's hand-sized film casts a watchful eye on an overlooked New York ubiquity: the street-corner coffee-and-bagel vendor. Whatever else happens in the life of Bahrani's Pakistani hero Ahmad (Ahmad Razvi), the rhythmic routine of stocking, pulling (not pushing), and tending the massive snack cart dominates his foreground. Shooting in a tiny unit on 35mm, Bahrani scans the treadmill so carefully we could do the job ourselves. Occurring largely during the underslept, 4-to-8 urban graveyard shift (props to nocturnal cinematographer Michael Simmonds), Ahmad's situation is dished out in small, teasing servings: he was once a budding pop star in Lahore, he has a son currently kept with his bitter in-laws, he's a widower. More vitally to him, he's $500 away from owning his cart, and the Bicycle Thieves schema of fragile subsistence economics hovers over his days. Coming armed with a small battery of festival awards, Man Push Cart is a diminutive film, finally–vying for a neorealist vibe, it lacks the Italian history makers' narrative urgency. (Michael Atkinson) (Edwards University, Irvine)
OPEN SEASON A pleasantly restrained Martin Lawrence voices the likable grizzly bear hero of this computer-generated feature. Raised by a ranger, he's lost when exiled to the woods, thanks to a wild-eyed mule deer (Ashton Kutcher, channeling Donkey from Shrek). As is usual in computer animation, the film's look is overbright, its green world appearing as natural as supermarket produce under fluorescents. Directors Roger Allers and Jill Culton don't trust their material in the two big comic sequences, a sugar-fueled rampage in a convenience store and a flood, and cut them too quickly for all the jokes to register. On the plus side, Open Season enjoys a clear narrative, real rooting interest, and good inter-species rapport. On the downside there's a surfeit of cruel bunny rabbit gags. The film ends with a goggle-eyed rabbit being thrown right into the camera. Are we watching a Shrek knockoff, or Fatal Attraction? (Gregg Rickman) (Edwards "Big One" Megaplex, Spectrum, Irvine)
SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS
Sat., 7 or 7:30 p.m. (Countywide)