- Eddie Harrison
- 27 August 2018
Woeful comedy acting as a platform for the dwindling appeal of Johnny Knoxville
As Jackass-style stunts go, transporting Johnny Knoxville to South Africa, building a 1970s amusement park and filming various mishaps must have seemed like a real wheeze. The star of the MTV prank show had enough clout to propel 2013's Bad Grandpa to unlikely box office success, but this equally lowbrow comedy deservedly vanished without trace on its US release.
The premise is loose: Knoxville plays DC Carver, an unscrupulous theme park owner circa 1979, facing competition from a nearby venture. When his rivals go high, Carver goes low – rigging his rides to be faster and more dangerous, offering free beer, selling candyfloss infused with cocaine and generally pandering to the lowest possible denominator. A vague subplot involves Carver's estranged daughter Boogie (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) turning up and Carver searching for redemption in her eyes by making a success of the park.
With almost nothing at stake, the stage is set for zip-line fails, go kart prangs, badly loaded catapults and the endless gonad punching on which Knoxville has cemented his reputation. Whatever amusement these pratfalls create is negated by sentimentality, with a modern-day framing device featuring Knoxville aged-up in his Bad Grandpa make-up failing to generate any laughs. Scenes in which the actor and his pals appear to be baiting wild animals are in questionable taste, as is the way the characters leer at the body of Carver's 15-year-old daughter.
Paramount's market research might have imagined that a low-rent Animal House / Caddyshack-type comedy aimed at the Jackass crowd would find its audience, but Action Point just isn't it. The true story of New Jersey's ramshackle Action Park, which inspired this tale, is a fascinating one, but British director Tim Kirkby only seems interested in using the famously deadly theme park legend as a jumping-off point for Knoxville's knackered brand of self-mutilating slapstick in a film which offers little from soup to nuts.
General release from Fri 31 Aug.