August 25, 2018
Box Office $5.06 million;
$18.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo pack;
Rated ‘R’ for crude sexual content, language, drug use, teen drinking, and brief graphic nudity.
Stars Johnny Knoxville, Chris Pontius, Eleanor Worthington Cox, Dan Bakkedahl, Johnny Pemberton, Joshua Hoover, Brigette Lundy-Paine.
The raunchy Action Point is inspired by a real-life New Jersey amusement park from the 1970s and ’80s called Action Park, which earned a reputation for its poor safety record and dangerous attractions. With its thrill rides, water park and beer garden — combined with an apathetic staff and lax supervision — Action Park became a popular hangout for New York-area teens. After countless injuries and a handful of deaths, Action Park eventually closed in 1996 after it was forced to clean up its act as a result of several lawsuits (though there was an attempt to revive the brand in 2014).
Using the park’s troubled history as the backdrop for a Johnny Knoxville vehicle seems like a natural fit. However, the end result comes across like a low-rent “Jackass” movie, using a paper-thin plot as an excuse for any number of bone-crunching stunts and gags involving bodily functions. Fortunately, the film’s sparse 84-minute running time doesn’t give the filmmakers much time to belabor the point even as the story is dragged to the finish line.
Playing like a cross between Bad Grandpa and an Adam Sandler movie, Knoxville plays D.C., who owned the park in the ’70s and dawns old-age makeup in scenes set in the present day so he can tell his granddaughter about the park (and throw in some sight gags about old people).
Action Point is dusty, run down and a money-losing magnet for degenerates, prompting a local real-estate mogul representing the area’s larger, safer theme park to offer to buy it from D.C. and tear it down. Intent on rejecting the offer, D.C., his daughter and a handful of the park’s loyal guests unite to try to find the money to keep the park open.
The movie is dumb and it knows it, offering pretty much exactly what one would expect from merging Knoxville with the amusement park premise, resulting in a nihilistic affair that treats its subject matter with no reverence but does offer some heartfelt sentiment in the strained relationship between D.C. and his daughter. The story offers a few good laughs but most of the comedy relies purely on shock value; in other words, fans of watching Knoxville do dumb stuff on camera should eat it up.
The depiction of the amusement park (built from scratch on an empty lot in South Africa) might make the film a curio for anyone familiar with its real-life counterpart. Honestly, however, none of it is as interesting as the average YouTube video about the real-life Action Park.
The Blu-ray offers about 20 minutes of featurettes and another 12 minutes of deleted scenes. There’s also a two-minute blooper reel.
In the four-minute “Anarchy in the Amusement Park,” featurette, the filmmakers actually discuss the real Action Park and how they went about re-creating it in spirit for the film.
The five-minute “Old School, Bone-Crunching Stunts” focuses on Knoxville getting banged around for his art (he has said he was injured more on this film than the totality of the rest of his career).
The seven-and-a-half-minute “Benny and the Sh*tbirds” looks at the film’s supporting cast, while the four-and-a-half-minute “Drinking Beer with Grizzly Bears” delves into the process of filming with wild animals (including a bear, monkey, crocodile, raccoon and others used to populate the park’s ersatz petting zoo).
The deleted and extended scenes mostly show off a few gags not used in the movie or scenes that set up the jokes that did make it into the film.