The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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Who would believe that 'Hereafter' and 'Jackass 3D' actually have something in common?

October 15, 2010 |  4:43 pm

In what has be to be bad news for Clint Eastwood's Oscar chances, not to mention Western Civilization in general, "Hereafter" and "Jackass 3D" have the exact same score at Metacritic: 53. And it's not a fluke. Over at Rotten Tomatoes, the leading aggregator of critical opinion, the two films' reviews are virtually identical as well, with "Hereafter" scoring a 58 and "Jackass 3D" scoring a 57.

At least the critics sentenced to reviewing "Jackass 3D" managed to come up with some genuine highbrow tomfoolery while trapped in the screening room, trying to conjure up some sort of visual iconography that would be less overwhelmingly gross than the pyrotechnics happening on screen.

Slate's Dana Stevens came up with a good image, writing that "for me, watching 'Jackass 3D' was like being plunged into a Hieronymus Bosch painting of hell." The New York Post's Kyle Smith was so driven 'round the bend with disgust that he began thinking of 14th century epic poetry. Deciding that a scene from the film that shows a guy playing a trumpet out of his butt must surely be derived from Dante's Inferno Canto XXII ("the captain made a trumpet of his ass"), he seized on all sorts of eerie parallels between Johnny Knoxville and Dante, starting with the fact that Dante is tormented by a leopard, a lion and a she-wolf, while in "Jackass," Knoxville is head-butted by a buffalo, a ram and a bull.

Not to be outdone, the New York Times' Manohla Dargis found herself comparing the film to the surrealist terrain described by Luis Bunuel in his memoir, "The Last Sigh." As Dargis put it, the surrealists rejected all existing values promoted by church and state while Knoxville and Co. "are reacting to, well, someone sticking something in the nearest hole." I can only imagine how Clint Eastwood must feel about this, since as far as I can tell, no one got around to quoting from Bunuel and Dante while reviewing "Hereafter." Some guys just can't buy a break.