UK Release Date: 31st August 2018
Runtime: 85 minutes
Director: Tim Kirkby
Writer: John Altschuler, Dave Krinsky
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Eleanor Worthington Cox, Chris Pontius, Dan Bakkedahl, Brigette Lundy-Paine
Synopsis: An old man tells his grandson about his glory days, running a ramshackle theme park that prided itself on having the most dangerous rides, and the fewest rules.
More than a decade ago, I absolutely adored the first two Jackass movies. For early teenage me, the spectacle of half a dozen guys running around getting shot in the arse and farting on each other was about as exciting and enjoyable as a movie could get. And it was hilarious. Unfortunately, at least 10 years after everybody stopped watching, Johnny Knoxville is still getting shot in the arse and farted on. It’s as a result of that arrested development that we now have Action Point, loosely based on the true story of the notorious New Jersey deathtrap Action Park, at which half a dozen people died during the 1980s.
The movie begins with Knoxville in old age make-up as DC, preparing to look after his grandson for the day and chuckling at a montage of people falling over. In fairness, people falling over is always pretty funny. Knoxville in prosthetics, though, immediately evokes unpleasant memories of the truly horrific Bad Grandpa from a few years ago. Mercifully, this movie soon flashes back in time as DC recounts his tenure as the owner of the titular theme park. The park prides itself on danger and is run by a skeleton crew of tearaway teens and the worryingly deviant Benny – played by Chris Pontius, who is perhaps best known for drinking horse ejaculate in the second Jackass movie. Real estate mogul Knoblach (Dan Bakkedahl) wants to buy the land for homes, but DC is determined to keep it open through the summer while his daughter Boogie (Eleanor Worthington Cox) visits him.
Everything about Action Point is basic, stupid and puerile. That used to be a compliment for Knoxville, but that shtick is now pretty tired and played out. It’s sad in a way because the star actually injured himself more making this, a movie no one will or should watch, than he did during the incredibly successful days of Jackass. In fact, he told Vanity Fair that he was so injured after one stunt that he managed to inadvertently pop his left eye out of its socket. His commitment to the cause is undeniable; it’s just that the cause is no longer worth it.
The attempts at creating a plot to string together the stunts this time around is even more perfunctory than with Bad Grandpa. It’s a tedious selection of happenings at the eponymous theme park, featuring a running gag about an alcoholic brown bear that was presumably funny to someone and an uncomfortable sense of warm nostalgia for the days in which you could just lose limbs without any regard for the consequences, leer at teenage girls and give cocaine to children. If you find yourself missing those days, it’s probably worth taking a step back and reassessing that opinion.
But Action Point‘s biggest crime is just that it’s boring. The morbid appeal of watching Knoxville hurt himself has long since dissipated and, in its place, there’s just a string of route one comedic material – the villainous character has “knob” in his name, of course – that never amounts to anything beyond the lowest of humour. It might once have worked, but now it just feels unoriginal, desperate and more than a little pathetic.
Pop or Poop?
Johnny Knoxville is still trapped in a constant loop of real-life slapstick and, with Action Point, he has crashed into that loop head-first, spewing tedious comedy everywhere in the process. This is as lacklustre as a comedy can get, with this failure made all the more saddening because of the very real risks that were taken to make it happen.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.