After all the pranks he's pulled, Punk'd creator Ashton Kutcher can no longer be the one acting like your annoying big brother. If you were his celebrity pal, wouldn't you expect to have your car "stolen" or your movie trailer "destroyed"?
So now that the MTV show is back (it premiered Thursday at 10 p.m. ET) after a hiatus since 2007, the Two and a Half Men star is sticking with his behind-the-scenes executive producer role, and enlisting high-profile celebs like Justin Bieber to guest host the episodes. (Future hosts include Hayden Panettiere, Heather Morris and original Punk'd cohort Dax Shepard.) In the premiere, Bieber's targets are Taylor Swift, skateboarder/reality star Rob Dyrdek, R&B singer Sean Kingston and Miley Cyrus.
In Swift's case, Bieber lures her to a seaside beach house under the pretense that they will record together. For fun, he suggests that they set off some fireworks. Soon enough, they notice that a boat on the horizon has been set aflame, presumably by them.
The congenial Swift is naturally horrified. Who wouldn't be? And it's soon evident that the ruse is even more elaborate: Lifeboats come to shore, carrying the vessel's occupants. And -- oh no! -- it's a bride and groom whose wedding at sea has now been ruined! The scene is topped off with the arrival of the priest, tumbling out of another boat and scurrying after his soaked Bible. Watch the hijinks below:
It's easy to see why Swift falls for the prank. Who in their right mind would go this far for a practical joke? Ah, but as Punk'd continues its successful run, Kutcher has the resources and the mandate to up the ante. He pours ever more money and energy into his pranks, and in this case that includes pyrotechnics and several spot-on comedic actors. Of course Swift buys it! It's not until until she makes a move to call the coast guard that Bieber reveals the truth.
She takes the news remarkably well, considering they truly had her believing that she'd blown up someone's boat. The lesson here? This is not a show for the soft-hearted. If you're a genuinely nice person, like Swift appears to be, it's not easy to watch the victims of Punk'd go through the various stages of shock, disbelief and genuine alarm -- before the ultimate relief and then humiliation of discovering they've been tricked.
The bit with Cyrus is much less harsh, and even more clever. Cyrus is led to believe that she's the one doing the punking, and that Bieber is the victim. She's told that some actors will pretend to be rude skateboarders, who'll hurl insults at Bieber. What's she's not told: Bieber's in on it, and he pretends to lose his temper, knock one of them down, and kick him in the stomach.
When Bieber turns violent, the look on Cyrus' face is priceless -- which, of course, is the point of this juvenile show. If you're into this kind of thing, season 9 looks to be a promising one for Punk'd. Kutcher's no-holds-barred approach to freaking people out is second to none.
Celebrities, take note: Any one of you may be next.