As this column's review collections often demonstrate, religious press critics frequently disagree on whether cinematic storytellers should portray depraved characters and immoral behavior in their movies. This week is no exception: the debate continues in reference to several titles. But the week's most popular movie had critics lining up, almost unanimously wishing it would just go away.

Hot from the Oven



This week's number one box office hit—it made $22.8 million this weekend—is not intended as a narrative of any sort. And it is not intended for any honorable purpose. It exists solely to serve up documentary footage of spectacularly tactless behavior, most of it bent on humiliating, embarrassing, sickening, and shocking viewers—both the innocent bystanders onscreen and those in their seats. Jackass: The Movie unapologetically glorifies depraved behavior more vigorously than any film in recent memory.

The heroes of Jackass are MTV clowns who set up elaborate, mean-spirited, gutter-minded, and often self-injuring pranks to shock and nauseate passersby. The stars, led by the obnoxious Johnny Knoxville (Men in Black 2), use their big-screen debut to push their impropriety further than their television show allowed. You won't find a listing of their many perverse, violent, lewd acts here as you might on other sites, but let's just say that the film makes most frat-house hazing rituals look tame by comparison.

(Interesting that Jackass did not provoke action from those who will likely protest Harry Potter again next month. Isn't Jackass more likely to inspire dangerous pranks than Potter is to inspire paganism?)

Critics, meanwhile, wondered how to save audiences from themselves.

Michael Elliott says, "I don't know what's more disturbing—the ...

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