This summer’s sleepy comedy “Action Point” is an exercise in nostalgia. Not only nostalgia for the summer days of the film’s dreamy late-seventies setting, but also for the days of yore when kids could recklessly endanger themselves to their hearts’ content with minimal consequences. Johnny Knoxville, of “Jackass” renown, plays D.C., dad to Boogie (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) and owner of Action Point. The titular amusement park is based off real-life, now-defunct New Jersey establishment Action Park, which received press for multiple deaths and injuries, which is a quite fitting choice for this cast.
The story is relayed to us by elder D.C. (Knoxville in his “Bad Grandpa” makeup), who is waxing poetic to his young granddaughter about the days when unsafe amusement parks were a great summer attraction. We follow D.C., his friend Benny (“Jackass” alum Chris Pontius), and the ragtag group of misfit teens who run the park as they fight corporate adversaries for the right to keep the grounds open. Along the way, D.C. tries to balance running the park and bonding with his daughter, all while subjecting himself to, and being subjected to, various painful physical stunts.
Part of what made “Jackass” so novel and entertaining (if you’re into that kind of thing) was the absurd extremity and senselessness of its pranks paired with its bizarre sense of self-awareness. By wrapping relatively tame and sparse stunts in a campy, drawn-out narrative, “Action Point” swaps novelty for boredom. Humorless, ill-timed banter and jokes are peppered throughout the simple plot, and the younger cast members are barely utilized in order to better showcase Pontius and Knoxville. There are a handful of amusing scenes involving a brown bear with an affinity for beer, as well as Knoxville and crew attempting to capture various woodland creature for a petting zoo, but ultimately the film relies on its script, making the venture feel much longer than its 85-minute runtime. It is a wonder why there was any attempt at a script or plot to begin with, when the “Jackass” crew could have likely made a film just as entertaining, if not more, by finding an abandoned amusement park to trash on their own.
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