“What this place needs is an excitement enema.”
Action Point’s poster makes a very clear distinction, and it’s an important one. Back in 2013, Johnny Knoxville starred in the similarly stupid but more dedicated Bad Grandpa, and that film was branded as “Jackass Presents.” In Action Point – a lost and soulless piece of debauchery – the poster is adorned with the words “From the Star of Jackass.” The movies are both similar attempts to bring the sheer idiocy and recklessness of the Jackass brand into the land of scripted film, yet this latest contains almost none of the unexpected, fascinating juvenile appeal that we’ve come to know. Action Point isn’t a worthy addition to the Jackass inventory, mostly because it’s a forged imitation rather than the real deal.
The setup is simple. An old and haggard D.C. (Johnny Knoxville) spends the afternoon with his granddaughter. They engage in the 21st Century past-time of watching YouTube videos where people get hurt, she happily paints his fungal infested toes, and D.C. recounts a fateful summer many years ago. Back in the day, he was the beer-guzzling owner of “Action Point,” the adventure park with a staff of infections and a few carnival attractions. A fancier park is built nearby, D.C. racks up piles of debt trying to compete, and he deals with his daughter Boogie’s (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) return for the season. Action Point technically has a plot even though there’s absolutely no point.
What’s missing is a sense of joy. An ability to manufacture original cringe-worthy set pieces and then further elevate them into revealing moments with raw emotions. Even as some of their material turned so obviously staged/prepared the bigger and more commercialized Jackass eventually became, the guerrilla style of its voyeur cinema always allowed us to believe in the “in the moment” verisimilitude of the visceral reactions caught on camera. Action Point derails itself by trying to be a film – a ripoff mix of Meatballs and Gorp’s R-rated attitude – when it’s really just a series of stunts with the thinnest layer of laughs and theatrics and understanding of storytelling.
For the very first time, I found myself literally upset watching Johnny Knoxville risk life and limb in a poorly made film that offers no commiseration into the pain he endured in the process. Our introduction to him this time around starts 20 feet up in a tree, drinking a beer, leaping onto a shed and tumbling to the ground. And there’s a bear yards away. A REAL BROWN BEAR. Action Point might be the worst film I’ve seen so this year, but it won’t be the lowest rating I give either, because to be 47 years old and give it your all as Knoxville has here says something about his dedication to entertaining audiences while sparing no costs. I just hope that our mad, chuckling, modern-day Evel Knievel gets one more chance in a movie that’s truly worthy of his efforts.
“It’s like one continuous trainwreck.”
Rating: 1.5 out of 5