The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Action Point

You have to feel bad for Johnny Knoxville. He's got a lot of charisma, but he's not really an actor. His fame came from the Jackass TV show and its subsequent movies, where he and his friends engaged in a series of bizarre stunts that usually led to some sort of injury or humiliation. While he doubtlessly found success in that regard, you can only get away with such foolishness for a while. After a certain age, it starts to look a little pathetic.

That brings us to Action Point, a film in which the late-forties Knoxville doesn't really act and doesn't quite engage in his trademark stunts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's an abysmal picture – a laughless comedy that runs just 75 minutes before hauling out 10 minutes of outtakes and credits. It's obvious that Knoxville doesn't know where to go with his career anymore. This film may possibly end it.

He plays D.C., an old man who tells his granddaughter the story of his life in the late 1970s. Through flashbacks, we see how he ran an amusement park called Action Point. It is a homemade operation. The cheap-o rides are both self-styled and unsafe. Kids like it, though, because there are essentially no rules. To the extent that there's a plot, it entails D.C. trying to mend the relationship with his adolescent daughter Boogie (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) while simultaneously preventing a wealthy competitor (Dan Bakkedahl) from buying up his land. Knoxville's Jackass pal Chris Pontius co-stars as his right-hand man.

Action Point's advertising touts that it contains “real stunts.” What that means is that Knoxville, and occasionally other actors, are shown actually getting on the dangerous rides. At one point, the star is launched into a barn via a catapult. He also rides a wheeled cart down a long plastic slide, wiping out as he rounds a curve. When D.C. decides to capture wild animals for a petting zoo, we get to observe as he tries to pick up a porcupine.

It's understandable that Knoxville would want to build a story around the daredevil tomfoolery that made him famous. However, the comedy value of Jackass comes from watching Johnny and friends nervously psych themselves up to do intentionally stupid things, egg each other on, and laugh about the outcome after successfully completing a task. Even if some of the events we witness in Action Point are real, they lose their punch when inserted into a fictional format. At least Knoxville's other fictional effort, Bad Grandpa, had the advantage of capturing reactions from unsuspecting people as he pulled off his antics.

Nothing else works any better. D.C.'s merry band of employees are underdeveloped, his relationship with Boogie is flat, and the plot involving the unscrupulous business rival is as cliched as can be. The main joke – people getting on low-rent, unsafe rides – is repeated so many times that it quickly stops being amusing, especially since the rides themselves are not humorously or cleverly designed. In fact, they're just stupid. (A water slide loop-de-loop. Oh, boy.) A few needlessly raunchy gags are inserted at random intervals, one about dogs having weird sex, another involving a man getting someone else's semen on his hand. You can practically smell the desperation.

Action Point sounds intriguing on the surface. There's probably a good Meatballs-esque comedy to be made from the concept, but this sure isn't it. As executed by Knoxville and director Tim Kirkby, it is an unfunny film that lacks inspiration.

In other words, it's the cinematic equivalent of one of the story's lame, rickety, cobbled-together rides.

( out of four)

Action Point is rated R for crude sexual content, language, drug use, teen drinking, and brief graphic nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 25 minutes.

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