The website Nola.com recently ran a photo retrospective of Lafreniere Park, my childhood stomping grounds. Among the pictures was a shot of Lafreniere’s first playground, which I frequently visited throughout the 80s. It was a rusty, splinter-filled death trap with tall ladders and no cushioning for falls. Would it terrify me to see my nephews and nieces playing on that playground? Yes. Did I still adore that playground? You bet.
The new film Action Point, directed by Tim Kirkby, taps into nostalgia for days when playgrounds and amusement parks were horrifically unsafe. Set in what looks like the early 80s, the movie stars Jackass star Johnny Knoxville as the proprietor of a rowdy, dangerous amusement park. Things look bleak as a developer wants to buy the land and lawyers are looking to sue on behalf of patrons who suffer on-site injuries.
There’s not enough plot here to sustain even the film’s scant 85-minute running time (which includes ending credits). Granted, the late-70s/early 80s slobs vs. snobs comedies Action Pointemulates also had ramshackle story structures (it’s a major flaw in Stripes, Caddyshack, and Meatballs). But while those movies ultimately succeeded on the strength and color of their supporting characters, Action Point just doesn’t have enough in that department, nor does it have enough laughs.
The film’s foremost selling point is that Knoxville and co. all perform real stunts throughout, as they did in Jackass. Some of them are impressive and it’s hard not have at least some admiration for their bravery (or insanity, depending on the way you look at it). The climax also features a bit of inspired anarchy.
But overall, Action Point needed a stronger script and it is a film likely to please only hardcore Jackass fans.