Review: Action Point
Action Point is a strange tribute to summertime fun comedies of the 1970s/80s, punctuated with Jackass-style stunts across the narrative.
Johnny Knoxville, now pushing 50, plays D.C., the owner of the titular theme park, who decides to take an unorthodox approach to maintaining high attendance by instituting a 'no rules' policy, to excite and intrigue more younger patrons. He's assisted by a group of young 20-year-olds in his mission, as they strive to face up against a rival corporate mega park and make sure everyone has a good, fun time. D.C. is also in charge of looking after his daughter Boogie (Eleanor Worthington-Cox), for the summer, who helps him in his schemes while also allowing the film itself to encompass some kind of heartwarming, daddy-daughter subplot.
It's understandable what Knoxville and the entire crew was going for in making a throwback movie like this, especially in a time when the summer movie environment is dominated by superheroes and space battles. Movies like this aren't really made anymore, which is a shame, but watching Action Point it's clear that the landscape itself has evolved, leaving projects like this in the dust. It feels like the kind of movie that would have done reasonably well on a conceptual basis 10 years ago when R-rated comedies were having a resurgence. Now, much of the humor feels dated, on top of the nostalgic premise which is played more straight than expected.
The various trailers and TV spots have played up the stunt angle of Action Point, making it out to be another entry in the Jackass film franchise, coupled with the appearance of Chris "Party Boy" Pontius as one of Knoxville's accomplices. There are much fewer stunts than expected, but more surprisingly they mostly fall flat, occurring suddenly without purpose and then never referred to again. They halt the narrative for some quick laughs, but no effect is gained and the entire effect comes off as awkward. What's more strange is that the stunts take the passenger seat to the film's attempts at adding substance, which feels counterproductive and polarizing, essentially becoming a Jackass movie wrapped inside of a pastiche from a bygone era. The stuff that the core demographic wants to see accounts for maybe 10 minutes of the whole movie, everything else is boring, uneventful filler.
It's a surprise that, given their recent reluctance to showcase poor quality product, that Paramount would go ahead with releasing this in theaters over selling distribution rights to Netflix. At least more people would have seen it that way, as in the current economic climate, paying $15 to watch people fall down humorously or get kicked in the crotch is a tough sell, even with the Jackass branding. It was obvious that they were worried about Action Point's commercial prospects when the first trailer surfaced just over two months before release, never a good sign given most films kick their campaigns off four months in advance. There were no critic screenings either, not uncommon given the type of lowbrow humor on display, but the studio took things a step further and cancelled early Thursday evening screenings mere hours before they were set to take place.
I still had some hope given the potential of the concept, but there's no denying that Action Point is a poorly made missed opportunity, falling below the quality of the previous Jackass films and Bad Grandpa.