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STUDIO Arc Entertainment
RUNNING TIME 91 Minutes
• Steve-O Interview
• Deleted Scenes
• Behind the Scenes: Gregg’s Car Roll, Roner’s Pond Skim
Jackass meets the X-Games.
Travis Pastrana, Jolene Van Vugt, Street Bike Tommy, Jim DeChamp, Erik Roner, “Special” Green Powell, Parks Bonifay, Dusty Wygle, Arron “Wheelz” Fotheringham
Travis Pastrana and his crew of adrenaline-junkies attempt stunts that no one else dares to try in anticipation of their first live Las Vegas show. They travel the globe, jumping semi-trucks, motorbikes, cars, buses, jet skis, and tricycles over bigger and nastier gaps to create the perfect show. Highlights of their escapades are juxtaposed with interviews and footage of preparation for the Vegas show.
Nitro Circus: The Movie is an adrenaline junkies’ wet dream, over an hour and a half of terrible ideas brought to fruition by a handful of guys and one very tough girl. Each of the members of the Nitro Crew are highlighted – even Street Bike Tommy, who seems to only be there for humor. All of the members pull their weight and do what they have to do in order to complete their stunts.
The movie starts with the crew all manning various vehicles and riding them around the same track, doing choreographed tricks like some kind of batshit crazy ballet. The film was originally released in 3D, and this is one of the parts where that technology would have really shined. On the DVD, it fell a little flat. The tricks were entertaining for about a minute, but then it all started to feel like more of the same.
The entertainment factor of the film lay less with the tricks themselves and more with the individuals performing them. The interactions between the various performers were usually quite funny, and often their displays of friendship were heartwarming. Unlike the Jackass crew, who seem to be eternally nasty to one another in order to get a few laughs, these guys had a genuine camaraderie and friendship that made the failed stunts that much more shocking.
The interviews conducted outside of the Nitro crew seem random at best, though two manage to be entertaining at least. Jeff Tremaine, producer of Jackass, offers the most interesting input on the relationship between the two show and movie franchises: “The difference between Jackass and Nitro was that Jackass stunts are always designed to fail, Nitro stunts, you have to succeed or you die.” Later, he comments that Nitro Circus is a “little factory of bad ideas”. Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame describes the two franchises as coming from “the same mother, but different daddies”. He acknowledges that aside from Street Bike Tommy, the Nitro crew are much more athletic and serious than his own guys.
The relationship between the two groups seems evident enough, making Knoxville and Tremaine seem like quality interview choices. Some of the others, however, don’t make a whole lot of sense.
Pro-skateboarders Rob Dyrdek, Ryan Sheckler, and Bob Burnquist are also interviewed, which is at least in the same extreme-sports vein. The real problem is that all three of them contribute little besides “these guys are crazy”. Channing Tatum just points out that if these guys fail, they can die. This is a point repeatedly mentioned by just about everyone involved, so it gets a bit irritating. Anyone with a bit of common sense is going to realize that if someone falls 63 stories or misses the landing when jumping over four-hundred feet across skyscrapers, they’re probably going to die.
The stunts themselves range from bad ideas to absolutely asinine ideas. The fact that no one died making this film is amazing. Some of the stunts are humorous, such as “Freedom Fliers”, in which one man, on a jelly donut inner tube, is launched off a ramp into his friends, Angry Birds-style. The Nitro Circus Hole-In-One Contest is also pretty comical, as the crew attempt to launch themselves into the center hole of a giant inflated ball. Whoever can get inside of the ball and look best doing it wins.
Other stunts are much more impressive. The opening stunt of the film involves a base jump from a 63 story building in Panama City. The Nitro Circus crew have had to leave the United States several times in order to perform their stunts, as they are illegal in this country. Ryan Sheckler had his own opinion on that: “Guys, it’s illegal. Maybe that should be a hint that this is a bad idea.”
Another stunt performed in Panama City is a jump nearly 400 feet across on two skyscrapers. The jump is made on the souped-up Big Wheels they call Trikes, as well as a BMX bike. There is a real sense of danger in this stunt – if they fall they are most certainly dead, but if they overshoot the landing there is a chance for serious injury.
The inclusion of Jolene in the crew is a welcome one. Other shows and movies in this genre are almost entirely testosterone-centric, and it feels good to see a woman kicking butt along with her male costars. (It definitely cuts down on a great deal of the gay-chicken type behavior seen on Jackass and Rob and Big.) Jolene holds her own with the boys, and even shows them up on occasion. When Pastrana builds a loop in his backyard, Jolene is the first one to attempt it. She nails it on the first try, then proceeds to spray-paint “Jolene’s Loop” across the boards.
No one treats Jolene any differently because she’s female, and no one treats Wheelz any differently either. If anything, the crew has more respect for him because he completes his stunts on his wheelchair and he never complains, regardless of how hard he bites it. It’s refreshing to see this kind of mature behavior in a movie with an adolescent male fan-base. Just because the Nitro crew make stupid decisions doesn’t mean they’re stupid people.
The film is well shot, the cast feel like real, interesting people, and the soundtrack is great. While Nitro Circus isn’t really smart entertainment, it’s still definitely entertaining.
The interview with Steve-O isn’t even really an interview, totaling in at about 45 seconds. The deleted scenes and behind the scenes bits are all right, but nothing to write home about.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars