As the summer blockbuster season begins it’s third act, we begin to enter the phase of late U.S releases. To fill the gaps before the final run of the year drops its high ticket adventures on us, Action Point is one of those movies falling into the cracks. Coming from TV and music video director Tim Kirby, in collaboration with Johnny Knoxville, comes a new excuse for Knoxville (assisted by fellow Jackass alumni Chris Pontius) to perform bone crunching stunts within a conventional slapstick narrative. Immediately from the one sheet, I got the feeling they were going for a throwback to the high output of National Lampoon movies from the late 70s onwards through the 80s.
Unfortunately, Action Point lacks any of the wit, charisma or talent behind some of the more successful National Lampoon ventures ala Animal House and Vacation (’83). I’m all for a slice of laid back slacker fun, however I found myself struggling to find a laugh amongst Action Point’s 85-minute runtime. A chuckle here and there maybe for Knoxville’s quirkiness, but never anything truly side splitting. Because of that lack of comedy, it really makes it apparent how thread bare the narrative is. Told in flashback orientated manner (with Knoxville Grandpa makeup included), D.C Carver (Knoxville) recaps his glory days at Action Point to his granddaughter.
The theme park is notorious in the local community for it’s various health risks and questionable management. Naturally, competitors want to demolish the park to acquire the land for further business ventures. In a bid to pay off the park’s mounting debt, Carver and his band of slackers set about promoting how outrageous the park is to drive up business. In an attempt to add emotional stakes, Carver’s daughter comes to visit for the summer, with news that will determine the dynamic with her father going forward.
As the story tries to use Carver’s daughter as the heart of the movie, it spirals into a pit of dull exchanges around the park, with the occasional stunt thrown in. I probably might have got more enjoyment out of this if the stunts (normally cringe inducing from Knoxville) had at least an ounce of the insanity featured in the Jackass franchise. It’s almost as if these are unused or scrapped stunts that had resurfaced, only to have a wafer thin plot to hold them in as opposed to a new Jackass venture.
Knoxville had stated to Vanity Fair that he had sustained more injuries on this production than any of his previous endeavours. While I applaud his boldness to put himself on the firing line when it comes to slapstick entertainment, this commitment doesn’t feel like it is reflected. It seems like Knoxville is playing it safe, which is a true shame.
If you’re looking for a movie with similar premise around raising money and stunts gone wrong, you’re better off revisiting cult favourite Hot Rod.
Directed by: Tim Kirkby
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Susan Yeagley, Dana Schick, Chris Pontius