'Nitro Circus: The Movie': How to make extreme stunts seem tiresome

Los Angeles TimesAugust 9, 2012 

Nitro Circus: The Movie is about stunts, and guys getting hurt doing those stunts.



    'Nitro Circus: The Movie'

    No stars

    PG-13 for depiction of extreme and dangerous stunts throughout, and for language. ARC Entertainment. 80 min. 2D: Woodhill 3D: Hamburg, Woodhill.

If you're familiar with the motorcycle-jumping, car-crashing, body-banging brand of extreme sports marketed and practiced by the team Nitro Circus through its television show, then you might be predisposed to enjoy Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D.

Although decidedly not for everyone, Jackass — the TV series and the movies that Johnny Knoxville and his team made — had a sharply wry sense of narrative, showmanship and subversion. By contrast, Nitro Circus, which opened Wednesday, remains firmly planted in the realm of the inarticulate dude-bro, where shirtless men gleefully engage in physical acts of self-inflicted pain without a trace of real self-awareness or understanding.

Even their character constructions — a fat guy, a dim-witted guy, the leader, etc. — feel thoughtless and rote. The group's sole female member, Jolene Van Vugt, is frequently described as tough and capable, but in the film, she performs just one stunt, on a tricycle, and is a passenger in a second gag. Mostly, she appears on screen in a bikini top, cheering on the guys.

Billed as Nitro Circus members although they perform no stunts in the movie, directors Gregg Godfrey and Jeremy Rawle show no real sense of pacing, turning in a film that feels windy and padded even though it runs less than 90 minutes. (It also comes across as outrageously self-aggrandizing, with Channing Tatum inexplicably showing up for a testimonial, as does Knoxville.)

The movie is designed to build up to a Las Vegas arena performance, but the event seems like an afterthought once it happens. Instead, a long stretch of screen time is devoted to repeated runs at a lakeside ramp stunt that isn't inventive or visually interesting.

Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D is strictly for fans only.

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