Deadline broke news late last week that Paramount has pre-emptively bought the pitch 'First Man' and has retooled the comedy 'Mustache Riders' – both films will feature Knoxville in a starring role ('Mustache Riders' will also feature fellow Jackasses Bam Margera and Ryan Dunn – alongside Willie Nelson) and be produced by the actors' Dickhouse Entertainment banner.
'First Man,' based on a pitch by Matt Spicer and Max Winkler, takes the hoary old idea of how a hellraising husband reacts when his wife is elected president and he's forced to deal with the newfound public scrutiny. They could, in theory, call it the Todd Palin story, although Sarah Palin hasn't been anything more than governor. 'Mustache Riders,' meanwhile, finds Knoxville and crew playing a trio of crooks who go in search of buried treasure with a "grizzled old outlaw." That title has been percolating at Paramount since 2008, and is currently being reworked so Knoxville, Margera and Dunn can do their own stunts.
All this scripted comedy got us thinking – do we actually want to see the 'Jackass' guys in Hollywood comedies or do we only really appreciate them when they're getting punched in the crotch? Hit the jump for our thoughts.
Personally, I tend to prefer Knoxville in 'Jackass.' This isn't to say that the guy is a complete failure as an actor, because he hasn't really done enough scripted acting to make a fair assessment of his work. However, like the comedians who try to make the jump to drama, being a reality star is a far different animal than carrying a major motion picture.
Knoxville's leading role in the comedy'The Ringer' isn't something anyone would want to be remembered for when they move into the afterlife, but it did at least have a few (if mostly obvious) laughs. Knoxville can do dopey redneck (which he did in the 'Dukes of Hazzard' remake) and loveable loser pretty well – but the question is why should he bother? The performer has become a celebrity based entirely on the fact that there's nothing so stupid or dangerous that he and his merry band of cohorts won't consider doing it... on camera.
In that unique entertainment niche, Knoxville is king. Others have aspired to his throne (The Dudesons, Travis Pastrana and the 'Nitro Circus' kids), but none have managed to gain the same level of recognition and notoriety. In fact, the only guys who come close are his 'Jackass' counterparts, Margera and Steve-O. On the other hand, there's no shortage of mid to high-level actors who can play the parts Knoxville plays well – everyone from Seth Rogen to Jason Mewes. In that sea, Knoxville is a small fish.
Margera and Dunn face a similar problem. Neither performer has much acting experience (Dunn has at least been in films like 'Blonde Ambition' and an episode of 'Law & Order: SVU'). Maybe both of these guys have great comedic timing and can act (if I had to place money on one, I'd bet on Dunn), but again, they're not exactly filling some unique cinematic niche in a film like 'Mustache Riders.' There are a thousand guys in Hollywood who could play those parts. How many guys are there who can take a paintball in the crotch or fill their house with snow so they can ski down the staircase and through the front door? Exactly.
No one's opposed to Knoxville and the 'Jackass' guys expanding their horizons. They have families to support and it's a safe bet the companies who provide their medical insurance have found ways to charge them exorbitant fees for their coverage. Plus, none of these guys are getting any younger. At some point, they'll have broken one bone too many, or taken a shot to the head that ends that part of their career. They need something to fall back on, right?
The thing is, we don't begrudge them taking their shot at mainstream success. If they let Jim Varney and Larry the Cable Guy star in movies, then there's certainly room for the boys from 'Jackass' to make some comedies. We just hope the allure of Hollywood success doesn't deter them from doing what they do best – things like renting a car, taking it to a demolition derby, then trying to return it to the rental agency or snorting wasabi.
Which do you guys prefer, Knoxville and company being obnoxious while hurting themselves in the process or their attempts at traditional comedy? Maybe you just want these guys to go away completely. Share your preferences below.