2018, R, 85 min. Directed by Tim Kirkby. Starring Johnny Knoxville, Chris Pontius, Eleanor Worthington-Cox, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Susan Yeagley, Johnny Pemberton, Dana Schick, Dan Bakkedahl.
REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., June 8, 2018
Are you a helicopter parent? Do you worry that your precious offspring might get a boo-boo, and you may have to call a lawyer? Then it’s pretty clear that Johnny Knoxville thinks you’re a bad parent – not evil-bad, but doing-your-kids-no-favors-bad.
Action Point gives Knoxville and a Jackass crew redux (basically just Chris Pontius) a chance to get all misty-eyed about the lazy, hazy summer days of the Seventies, when health and safety was a fanciful lark, and screaming around amusement attractions on dangerous, battered equipment, and diving into swimming holes with drunken lifeguards, was just part of growing up. Donning his Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa old man makeup again, Knoxville plays the mischievous D.C., who reminisces with his granddaughter about his old amusement attraction – based on the legendarily dangerous Action Park in New Jersey – and the last summer there with his daughter Boogie (Worthington-Cox). Basically, it’s a new excuse for dangerous and ridiculous stunts (Knoxville’s stock-in-trade) involving water slides, drunken bears, nut-shots, zip lines, and well meaning mayhem.
Here’s the real kick in the pants. Action Point absolutely has a point, and definitely has its heart in the right place. Knoxville has often been written off as a demented and dimwitted stuntman, and it’s true that Jackass had more than its fair share of juvenile and mean-spirited pranks. But he’s really a constant reminder that your kids are tougher than you think, and, yes, maybe they might fall out of a tree if they climb it – but isn’t that better than never climbing a tree at all? Action Point is a well meaning testament to the days before that pesky helicopter parenting ruined everything, and that’s fine. It just lacks shock value (after all, he’s been playing daredevil onscreen for nearly two decades now) and, honestly, there are few stunts where it’s hard not to think, “Johnny, you’re 47. Time to hang up the padding.” Moreover, while Bad Grandpa had a shambling amiability, this just shambles. There’s a small sense of drama from Bakkedahl as an unscrupulous developer, but it seems perfunctory, just a way to get to the next stunt, and we’re deep into the realm of diminishing returns on those. Like a line at Disneyland, it feels like a long wait to not get very far.