By: BabyRuth (Four Beers) –
Hey kids, who’s itching for a new Johnny Knoxville crazy stunt-filled movie?
Oh, yeah, Jackass was like 15 years ago, and you guys aren’t kids anymore…
Well, here’s one anyway!
The movie is framed by D.C. (Knoxville in Bad Grandpa make-up) who, while visiting his granddaughter, fondly recounts the last summer of Action Point, a water/amusement park that he owned back in the 1970s. The park was a place where the rides were held together with duct tape, beer consumption was encouraged, and lawsuits were never a concern. “Back then,” he explains, “there was a little something called personal responsibility.” The attractions featured alpine slides that had a tendency to send riders flying off the track, rope swings that would dump thrill-seekers into an ice cold lake, and this wonder of engineering:
But wait! This is not a still from the movie Action Point, but a photo of something that existed in real life in Vernon, New Jersey (because of course it’s New Jersey) called Action Park, the inspiration for this film. Action Park (nicknamed “Class-Action Park” and “Traction Park,” among others) operated from 1978 to 1996 and was notorious for many injuries and even a few deaths.
For those who are not familiar, here’s a pretty fascinating documentary:
Truth is stranger than fiction.
Despite being a tri-state child of the 80s, I personally never got the chance to obtain any battle scars of my own, though I do remember the commercials as well as know people who have visited Action Park and lived to tell (and they all have stories involving being maimed, and/or skinned, and/or concussed).
Anyway back to the fictional version: D.C.’s daughter, nicknamed (I hope!) Boogie (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) comes to visit for the summer and hangs out at the park with her dad and his group of teenage misfit employees. But there’s trouble – a land developer has got his eye on the property and is hoping to expand the recently opened Seven Parks (Get it? You see, it’s like Six Flags, but Seven Parks) Amusement Park, which has also been taking away Action Point’s business. Will D.C. and the kids be able to save the community center park? Will they get into assorted ball-smacking shenanigans along the way?
For anyone who has nostalgic affection for Action Park, it’s fun to see the recreations and they are pretty spot-on. The Cannonball Loop (pictured above) even makes an appearance. (Again, I recommend checking out some old Youtube videos to really appreciate it. This is one of my favorites.)
Knoxville also deserves a toast for continuing to put his body/life on the line, especially now at 47 years old. Though there are considerably fewer stunts than in past efforts, he never holds back in the execution and suffered perhaps his gnarliest injury yet: His eye popped out of its socket when he sneezed after a particularly hard fall during the filming of the Alpine slide stunt.
Here to tell you about it, is Johnny Knoxville:
So now that he actually has lost an eye, could this mean that the fun and games are over?
This seemed like a perfect marriage. A movie about the Jackass of theme parks starring the main Jackass, himself… but it’s just kind of, there.
The biggest problem with Action Point is that it just isn’t very funny. Like one of Knoxville’s stunts gone awry, the humor never lands right, if at all. The couple of times I broke a smile were at throwaway lines by background characters.
Of course, no one comes to a Johnny Knoxville movie for snappy dialogue and biting humor, they come for the insane acts of human stupidity. And unfortunately, those don’t really work either. Pretty much everything is in the trailer and it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
A lot of the complaints I’ve heard about this movie is that the scripted structure gets in the way of the hijinks. I disagree with this. The fact that a plot exists isn’t the problem, it’s that it isn’t very good. We’re supposed to root for the father-daughter relationship as well as the ragtag staff of Action Point, but neither storyline is developed enough to invest much in either one.
The D.C./Boogie arc is predictable and moves along without any conflict until of course, conflict is needed, and then is quickly resolved. And aside from Jackass regular Chris Pontius’ Benny, we never get to know any of the other supporting characters well enough to care about what happens to them (that’s not to say I cared about Benny, because I cared about him the least of anyone in this movie.)
Boogie suggests a children’s area for the younger attendees which prompts D.C. to construct a petting zoo filled with whatever wildlife they can wrangle out of the woods. This is the one part of movie that actually elicited a response out of me, and it was one of concern for those involved – the animals. I’m not sure how many of the bear scenes were with a real (extremely well-trained, Schlitz-lovin’) bear, but that was clearly a live raccoon getting picked up by its tail, a pretty pissed-off looking porcupine, and a poor squirrel getting shoved into Pontius’ crotch (if that’s not animal abuse, I don’t know what is). I didn’t stay into the credits far enough to find out if the “No animals were harmed blah blah blah” message was included, but if it was, I’d imagine the animals were supervised by the same people who worked on A Dog’s Purpose.
This one is for Knoxville completests and/or those who have a nostalgic love for Action Park. Maybe throw it on in the background of a party when it’s available on VOD. Or not? Really, it doesn’t really matter either way. This will likely only be remembered as the movie in which Johnny Knoxville sneezed his eye out.
Action Point (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time D.C. cracks open a Schlitz (Take Two: when the bear does)
Take a Drink: whenever a ride breaks/malfunctions
Take a Drink: whenever D.C. sustains bodily harm
Take a Drink: at every mention of a Clash concert
Do a Shot: at the Alpine slide fall that resulted in Knoxville’s eye popping out
Last Call: stick around for bloopers and the aftermath of the stunts (not the eye thing though)