A Brief History
On June 2, 2018, the new R-rated comedy from Johnny Knoxville (of Jackass fame), Action Point, is in its second day at the movies. An 84 minute romp through coarse sexual and physical comedy, the film is what you would expect from Knoxville. Funny, almost slapstick, and filled with “Oh no you didn’t!” moments.
Based on the familiar story line of the low budget, struggling amusement park (interchangeable with zoo, water park, ski lodge or other struggling small business) fighting against greedy corporate types looking to take over, the movie is told through the flashback tale telling of Grandpa to Granddaughter, a plot vehicle that works particularly well in this instance.
The old Knoxville character is baby sitting his granddaughter while he regales her with the story of his old amusement park, naturally called Action Point. Based somewhat on a tragic/comic bad real life New Jersey amusement park called Action Park. The real life Action Park was a pioneer in water parks, but was plagued by poorly designed (dangerous as heck) rides, poor maintenance, and an untrained staff of often underage hosts. Open from 1978 to 1996, Action Park suffered at least 6 fatalities among its many seriously injured guests, earning the sobriquets “Traction Park” and “Class Action Park.” As in the movie, the real park was bought out by a large developer and rebuilt as a new, modern water park.
In the fictional Action Point, the rides are ramshackle, poorly designed and ill-maintained, and the staff is comically bizarre. A worn out looking Knoxville plays the beleaguered park owner, DC, and Eleanor Worthington Cox plays a convincing 14 daughter. Their relationship is a key secondary story line to the main plot of trying to keep the park open and profitable.
The movie moves along from hijinks to hijinks, never letting the audience get bored, with typical “Jackass-esque” physical stunts that cause the audience to cringe in empathetic pain. Needless to say, there is just enough gross out comedy to merit caution in bringing little kids to the R-rated film. The stunts are particularly convincing, as it seems reality was more important to this movie than the CGI we have become accustomed to.
The characters are convincing and the acting and cinematography are good, leaving the audience entertained. Is the film a classic (such as Caddyshack)? No, but it is Johnny Knoxville and has plenty of funny gags to keep the movie goer interested and laughing. With a $19 million budget, you will not get Star Wars type of epic special effects and star studded cast, but in this case the budget seems plenty adequate to produce a decent movie, one expected to gross around $10 million its first weekend. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an audience score of 70% approval.
We recommend this movie for all fans of physical comedy and particularly those that appreciate Johnny Knoxville and his brand of humor. Just do not let the movie scare you away from amusement parks!
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For more information, please see…
Kyriazi, Gary. The Great American Amusement Parks: A Pictorial History. Book Sales, 1978.
Samuelson, Dale and Wendy Yegoiants. American Amusement Park. MBI, 2001.