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‘Jackass Number Two’

If you haven’t seen the first "Jackass" movie, you’re likely to be hopelessly lost in the sequel’s plot. Where did those snakes come from? Who’s the bad guy? What kind of name is "Wee Man," anyhow?

OK, so "Jackass Number Two" _ like its 2002 predecessor _ isn’t exactly complicated fare. Much as you’d suspect, there is no narrative to speak of _ only vignette after vignette of Johnny Knoxville and his band of dirty pranksters up to their usual tricks of self-inflicted stunts and dares.

After a warning label of a skull and crutches, the gang emerges in slow motion from a cloud of fog on a suburban street, hightailing it away from a pack of charging bulls. Just before a bull launches him through a window, Knoxville, running in place, speaks into the camera: "Hi, I’m Johnny Knoxville. Welcome to Jackass."

You would be hard pressed to think of a movie that cares less about critical reception. This is one for the masses, and meant to make young moviegoers roll in the aisles.

In segments with titles like "The Fish Hook," "Beehive Limo" and "Medicine Ball Dodgeball," the crew puts itself through all matters of torture. Guest stars include John Waters, the Oscar-winning hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia, "Murderball" star Mark Zupan, Tony Hawk and Spike Jonze, who co-created the MTV "Jackass" show and here fools passers-by as a 90-year-old woman who can’t keep her shirt on.

True to its aim, "Jackass 2" will probably leave fans more satisfied than the vast majority of films this year have left moviegoers. The Jackass crew makes no demands of its audience, and their raw, "Fight Club"-esque naturalism is in stark contrast to the slick creations of Hollywood.

A big part of the appeal of "Jackass" is that Knoxville, Bam and Steve-O and the rest are not ones to judge. You can be ugly, fat, diminutive or middle-aged _ but as long as you can take a punch to the groin, well, then you’re all right.

And while many would readily call "Jackass" pointless, its message (it might not have a plot, but there is a theme) is that pain is fleeting _ and we can take it.

Though the stunts are often as simple as eating feces, "Jackass" is at its best when the weirdness has a little creativity to it _ like "Firehouse Rodeo," where one rides a flailing firehouse hose, hung from a crane. That takes ingenuity, not just daring.

Of course, the gang is often unabashedly and rebelliously juvenile, which will offend or annoy most any serious moviegoer. But what would a serious moviegoer be doing at this movie?

Still, "Jackass Number Two" might have more in common with film history than it would appear. In one scene, Steve-O attaches a leech to his eyeball, a fitting bookend to Luis Bunuel’s eyeball cutting in 1929’s "Un Chien Andalou."

Only, the "Jackass" guys aren’t faking it.