The Jackass Forever Scene That Caused A Huge BTS Debate And Had To Be Tested With Audiences

Johnny Knoxville and the Jackass crew
(Image credit: YouTube)

Warning: Spoilers for Jackass Forever are in play. If you don’t want to have anything ruined for you, feel free to head to another piece of coverage related to the film, courtesy of CinemaBlend.

It’s not enough for the cast of Jackass to cook up insanely stomach-churning theatrical stunts. Truthfully, that threshold was crossed back when 2002’s original feature brought the TV franchise to the movies. From that point on, an expectation was set for a certain amount of pranks that would justify a theatrical scale. Jackass Forever opens with a stunt of that sort of caliber, and like any good braintrust, there was a huge behind-the-scenes debate that could only be settled one way: through audience test screenings. 

The Scene That Sparked A Jackass Forever Debate

One last spoiler warning is needed, as we’re about to dig into a pretty big story that Steve-O shared about the opening sequence. During his episode on CinemaBlend's own ReelBlend podcast, the man who is one of the original Jackass members spilled the beans on what was masterfully debated during the film’s editing phase. The foundation of this disagreement, and its ultimate resolution, were revealed as follows: 

There was actually a really heated debate/conflict between Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jonze. Jeff Tremaine, of course, being the director, and Spike Jonze being the Oscar-winning filmmaker. The debate was whether, and I was solidly on Jeff Tremaine’s side about this, and this relates to the opening sequence. … But what they did, and the point being that they put it in front of test audiences, they tested the ‘A’ version versus the ‘B’ version. And absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, [it was] demonstrably proven Spike was right. Spike was right, and there’s zero subjectivity in it when they test it in front of so many audiences like that. It is absolutely proven that that was the way to go.

In a sequence that acts as a send-up of monster movies from the classic eras of the Godzilla franchise, a giant green monster is rampaging down the streets of what’s supposed to be New York City. Naturally, it looks goofy, not only to fit in with the sort of movies they’re parodying, but also because this is Jackass Forever, not Avengers: Endgame. However, the big reveal is what’s truly going on, and the lengths that the team went to in order to capture it. 

As it turns out, the monstrous force at work is none other than Chris Pontius’s penis. That’s not to sell this gag short, as Steve-O mentioned in this interview that top-notch puppeteers, $3 million, and “fucking cranes throwing cars that were on fire and exploding” helped make up the entire scenario. As he’s been enthusiastically talking up the finished product of this latest Jackass odyssey, the comedian/stunt performer believes this opening number outdoes the past history of the series. 

Spider Helmet in Jackass Forever

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

The Team Tremaine vs. Team Jonze Debate, And Why The Final Decision Worked

Sparing no expense and indulging in not a single shred of personal reservation, Jackass Forever’s opening showers its participants in bodily fluids and explosions and even crushes a model’s head like a grape. The limits for this no holds barred insanity was, instead, when the break the illusion of what we were seeing. With the factions of Team Tremaine and Team Jonze set, here’s where director Jeff Tremaine, as well as Steve-O, stood:

The debate between Tremaine and Spike Jonze was that Spike felt very strongly that we needed to pull back the curtain, and show Pontius from head to toe, and reveal the scene and what’s going on. I felt, as did Jeff Tremaine, that we had invested so much in building this energy, we’ve gotten people, we’ve established this, you’re in it. And then, to all of a sudden come out of it, to reveal Pontius standing there and show what’s going on, it’s just like we built this whole energy, we established this whole thing, and then you just lose it all. … Tremaine and I thought, ‘Keep people in it, don’t break it.’

Whether this meant that Jackass Forever would show Chris Pontius and his jolly green member at the end, or if at all, is left to interpretation. What isn’t vague is that rather than showing Pontius standing in the middle of the miniature city, being instructed as to how he should rampage, was something that some would have liked to at least save for later. Those crucial test screenings would lead to writer Spike Jonze winning out, with no sour grapes in the process. 

In hindsight, the choice was well defended, as well as the process that landed the film’s monstrous dick joke. The screenings in particular led to the eventual consensus that would help hand last weekend its box office ruler. In the end, it was cooperation that saved the day, summed up perfectly in Steve-O’s own words: 

They got it right. And I think that when it comes to Spike, Jeff Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville, any and all of them on their own can absolutely get shit wrong. None of them as individuals are bulletproof in getting everything right. But the consensus, Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jonze, once all of them have arrived at a consensus decision among them, in that case the three of them together are fucking bulletproof. I don’t even bother, once the three of them put their heads together and arrive at a conclusion, I just know it’s right because they’ve never been wrong.

When you get a group like the Jackass crew to agree on doing things a certain way, you can see there’s no stopping it. Over two decades of fun, games, and hospital visits have shown that the machinery still works, and the decision-making process is sound. It’d have to be, especially looking back at Steve-O’s reservations to even take part in a fourth movie. Much like the choices made when the cameras were rolling, that was a fork in the road well taken. 

Jackass Forever is exclusively showing in theaters, just in time to bring moviegoers back together for some fond memories. That’s just part of the road ahead for 2022 movie releases, and there’s plenty more where this came from. We just can’t guarantee you’ll see something as ridiculous as a green-painted penis monster -- but never say never!

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.