Action Point, 2018.
Directed by Tim Kirkby.
Starring Johnny Knoxville, Chris Pontinus and Eleanor Worthington Cox.
A daredevil designs and operates his own theme park with his friends.
There’s always been something weirdly endearing about the Jackass crew; perhaps it’s their twisted sense of camaraderie or the unpretentious presentation of all the crude thrills, but the gang has enjoyed a surprisingly lengthy tenure across TV and, yes, three movies.
2013’s Bad Grandpa was a dubiously ambitious step forward for star Johnny Knoxville and the Jackass brand, ditching most of his comrades while attempting to wrap the usual barmy shenanigans around something approaching an actual narrative. It’s not an easy, natural fit for material of this brand, but it basically worked.
Sadly the results are decidedly less whelming in Action Point, an intriguingly-premised yet shockingly tame and dull slog of underwhelming stunts and malnourished character drama.
Based on the real-life New Jersey theme park Action Park, Action Point follows D.C. (Knoxville), the irresponsible owner of the titular amusement park, who decides to remove the limiters on his rides and basically let patrons do whatever the hell they want in order to compete with a corporate mega-park opening nearby. While trying to make ends meet, D.C. also attempts to repair his relationship with his estranged daughter, Boogie (Eleanor Worthington Cox).
The film opens with a peculiar frame narrative – an older D.C. regaling his granddaughter with the story – and only makes odder, more disconcerting creative choices from there. Without the infectious, real-world chuckling of Knoxville and his cohorts, it’s left to the feckless script to amuse audiences, with bland “joke” after bland joke falling flat and mustering only the most polite, tepid smirk.
Perhaps the strangest thing about the movie is that it desperately wants to be poignant and taken semi-seriously as a touching father-daughter relationship drama. It’s sweet enough, sure – a consistent tonal through-line of the Jackass crew’s entire output, oddly – but never once does it feel remotely earned or like anything more than excess padding in an already slender 85-minute movie.
But if you put the bare bones of the script to the side, what remains? The stunts, of course, so it’s genuinely disappointing to report that nothing remotely impressive or memorable happens action-wise. Knoxville is hit by things periodically, yes, but there’s very little variety and the film desperately needed to vary things up by placing him in increasingly outrageous scenarios.
Hell, several large chunks of the film don’t even take place in Action Point, to the extent that you may well end up mentally checked-out by the mid-way mark, as the bloated shenanigans become increasingly more repetitive, desperate and worst of all, boring.
Perhaps had more of the Jackass crew been invited along for the ride this could’ve been the riotous, no-holds-barred spectacle it had the potential for. Even the Party Boy himself, Chris Pontius, feels oddly bolted to the floor here, having little to do beyond crack the occasional iffy one-liner.
At least the snappy run-time suggests director Tim Kirkby is somewhat aware of the material’s limitations, but even clocking as brief as it does, this is still an ennui-inducing experience that falls depressingly short of the mark. If this is really the best that Knoxville is capable of – and considering he’s 47 years of age with three kids, there’s certainly no shame in that – it’s probably best he hangs up the saddle altogether.
Too tame and plodding for Jackass fans while offering virtually nothing of merit for anyone else, Action Point will simply leave Johnny Knoxville acolytes begging for Jackass 4.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more film rambling.