‘Jackass’ Meets ‘Adventureland’ in ‘Action Point’ Trailer

Johnny Knoxville parodies a notoriously dangerous amusement park.
Action Point
By  · Published on March 22nd, 2018

Johnny Knoxville parodies a notoriously dangerous amusement park.

Comedy is tragedy plus time, and in the case of Action Point, we’ve had more than 30 years since the last fatality at New Jersey’s infamous Action Park to mine its dangerous reputation for slapstick. Johnny Knoxville co-wrote, produced, and stars in the movie, which looks like Adventureland as invaded by the stunts from Jackass.

Watch the first trailer for the movie below.

As I grew up nearby in Connecticut, Action Park was one of those places I spent time on family day trips and school field trips, mostly in the ’90s just before the place closed. While I can’t recall any injuries happening anytime I was present, every kid I knew seemed to claim they witnessed something awful there. And the rumors of decapitations and people being stuck inside inline tube slides at the water park were rampant for decades.

Of course, that was before Wikipedia could be checked for exact fatalities (mostly drownings, no dismemberments of any sort, fewer than you’d think) and the non-lethal issues with rides that allowed many head and back injuries. That was also before you could watch and pass around (and post on this very site) a short documentary focused on why Action Park still deserved to be scrutinized — to the point that even the later renamed incarnation was tarnished — for its unsafe legacy. Watch that again here:

Regarding Action Point‘s loosely based take on Action Park’s notoriety, I do wonder if it would have been better not to go so extreme with the dangerous stunts — as in, not involving the guy behind Jackass, I guess. Or making him hold back that which we expect from him. Sometimes, sticking to a more authentic depiction of something already truthfully outrageous and unbelievable can do the job of shock and amusement just fine.

As an example, another comedy coming out this summer, Tag (watch the trailer), is based on a ridiculous but real game of adult tag that a group of friends have been playing for decades. There will be heightened action set pieces and crazy improvisational dialogue, but the aim according to its producers and stars (see my set visit report elsewhere) was to keep it mostly faithful to real events in order to keep it grounded and honest and heartfelt even at its craziest.

Action Point does seem to feature some familiar concepts in its fictionalized park, including water slides that let out a little too close to each other and the alpine slide, which you can see Knoxville launch off from in a way that regularly happened to people to harmful and lawsuit-inspiring effect. He can get away with the idea in a parodical fashion similar to how his stunt spectacles have sort of satirized as much as exploited a lot of people’s favor for dangerous shenanigans.

Anyway, the fact is that in the absence of Action Park, accidents sill happen all the time at other theme parks, from trainers being killed by orcas at Sea World to fatal and non fatal falls from roller coasters at Six Flags parks to various other incidents at anywhere from Walt Disney World to local smalltime establishments. And we get movies and TV shows about anything from plausible coaster disasters to more clearly fictional resorts with real dinosaurs. The potential for claims of insensitivity this time should be slim to none.

Action Point opens in theaters on June 1st.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.