Something like ten years ago, a film with Johnny Knoxville preforming his death defying stupid-human-stunts would have dragged every high schooler in America to the movie theater. My, how the times have changed. Knoxville’s latest film, Action Point, is essentially Bad Grandpa meets Jackass, again something that once-upon-a-time would have dragged viewers to a theater. Now imagine that movie, but without any redeeming or entertaining qualities. That is Action Point.
Action Point is more of the same from Knoxville, just, without the laughs. It is a film completely devoid of genuine plot or characterization. It is loosely held together by a story about a father, his backyard-built-budget theme park, and his relationship with his estranged daughter. So, there isn’t much to truly build a film around.
As with any Knoxville film, we do not expect complicated plot lines or inspired acting. The film features a slew of character with whom we scarcely share any real attachment and forget their names moments after we learn them. They are really just shells of characters, much like the bots in a videogame we pass in the moment and soon forget. No one should have expected more than this. And no one goes to a Knoxville film expecting more than entertainment and death-defying stunts. That’s the problem.
Action Point lacks entertainment. The jokes are forced and fail to bring a smile (no matter how much you may try to force it). The stunts are a reminder that after almost 20 years of doing them, Johnny Knoxville needs to finally retire. They lack comedic merit, shock value, or the “wow” factor. These ill attempts at physical humor, fail to generate laughs. The real shame is that the true story of Action Park, a real dysfunctional theme park in north-western New Jersey, is quite entertaining. Had the filmmakers chosen to make a film more inspired by the original tale, the film might have been an entertaining one.
If you have had the misfortune of visiting north-western New Jersey as I have, you may know the tales. Action Park was a genuine death-trap, open to the public in the seventies and eighties. This ruckus filled wasteland was where teens across New Jersey gathered for drunken-debauchery and to test the limitations of mortality. The point is, Action Park, is in the running for the winner of the “Worst Ideas in Human History” Award. It is a painful reminder that in fact, a place like this could only exist, in Jersey. The Dallop Podcast (Episode 87) and the documentary The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever (2013) offer some great insight into the “shenanigans” that happened within the park. Unfortunately, Action Point fails to capture the absurdity and depravity of this actual place.
With so many other good movies, playing in the theaters, you have no business going to see this one. If you are desperate to laugh at stupid humans getting hurt, instead of wasting your time and money on this film, you are better-off swan-diving face-first into your drive way and letting your younger brother film it on the iPhone. It might even be more enjoyable.
DISCLAIMER: Do not jump head-first into your drive way. It is a bad idea.