Bright Lights Film Journal


“As a cultural record, The Science of Sleep usefully brings to the surface a robust yet barely acknowledged undercurrent of American cinema, the Peter Pan conception of manhood as a Long Adolescence, dating back to the Star Wars movies but now powering pop hits like The Break-Up, Failure to Launch, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and all Jackass movies of the past, present and future.”, Robert Keser, Aimez-Vous Bernal?

Yes, Bob does write long sentences, but they often have a point. There is a thread, un filo, as the Italians would have it, that connects The Science of Sleep, reviewed brilliantly by Bob here, and Jackass 2, but this thread, as I will argue (powerfully, I hope) below, is a damned thin and tangled strand.

First of all, Jackass 2 does not fall into the “the wistful yet delightfully goofy” mode. No one sticks her finger into a raspberry in this flick, or rides through cotton clouds on a fucking magic bicycle. In contrast, neither Amélie nor any of the characters in The Science of Sleep engage in fart-smelling contests (first guy to puke loses). No one sticks a large fishhook through his or her cheek (sans barb, fortunately) to serve as “bait” during a shark-fishing expedition. No one gets bitten by an anaconda, or jumped on by a naked 600-pound woman (a little magic arranged by the old maestro from B-town, John Waters). No one gets trampled by a bull or branded on the ass with a penis-shaped (what else could it be?) branding iron. No one is smashed in the face by a giant, hidden boxing glove. No one is smashed in the head while riding blindfold down an incline on a skateboard. No one is, well, you get the picture. A thin thread. A very thin thread.

Plot spoiler alert! They drink horse semen.*

*”Yeah, that’s semen,” says the dude, with commendable sang-froid.