7/10 Before certain films come out I like to explore similar TV series in anticipation or vice versa. For example, before “The Batman” came out earlier this year, I reviewed every season of “Gotham”. While only loosely connected, when “Jackass Forever” came out in February of this year, I wanted to check out previous “Jackass” seasons/films and the movie (which ended up being horrible) “Action Point”. It was a Johnny Knoxville/Chris Pontius movie from 2018 that I hadn’t seen with real stunts, hence its connection to “Jackass”. The movie was based off of Matt Robertson’s 2013 documentary short “The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever” which was roughly 14 minutes long and was about the New Jersey theme park, Action Park. Open from May of 1978 to June of 2014, Action Park was known for its underage staff, unsafe conditions, frequent brawls, overabundance of alcohol (for both staff and guests), shady rides, constant injuries and at least six deaths at the park. This HBO documentary takes a deeper look into the park, interviews former employees and attendees, the man behind the park (Gene Mulvihill), good memories and bad, etc. At an hour and a half, the pacing is strong as this documentary wastes no time. There is a good amount of humor in the film as people tell insane stories from the 70s and 80s, before the age of cell phones, when kids left for the day and parents just had to assume their kids were safe. The best parts of this documentary are the stories and details about how unsafe the rides/conditions were at the park. It is truly unbelievable the things that Mulvihill was able to get away with (it helped that he had friends in high places) and how long the park stayed open, despite all of the injuries, lawsuits and deaths. Despite the funny stories, the film takes a serious turn when writers/directors Seth Porges and Chris Charles Scott III interview the family of one of the teenagers who died at the park and who’s death was not only avoidable, but the absolute minimal amount of justice (a settlement of $100,000) was received, making the situation extremely sobering and tragic. The film makers do a good job of balancing the tragedy/loss of life and the more comedic, ridiculous sides of the park. As for what didn’t work, there was some footage in this film that gets repeated twice, which is a flaw on behalf of the editor for recycling footage. There could have been a better balance of who was interviewed as attendees like Chris Gethard gets far more screen time than anyone, despite just being a guest at the park, not someone who worked there. Finally, while I am by no means prude when it comes to anything on film, some of Gethard’s interview wanders into the vulgar. The only problem with this is that if you took out his most vulgar commentary, this film could reach a much wider audience, instead of limiting it to adults only. This is such an interesting, true story with fascinating content that I would love to recommend to many people I know but I know many of them would be turned off by the unnecessary vulgarity that could have easily been edited out. Despite some of these flaws, this is still an entertaining, quick watch that will make you laugh out loud and shock you with what Action Park was able to get away with for decades. Definitely skip “Action Point” and check this out instead if you’d like to learn more.
#GenesPool / #KingOfTheMulvihill / #JerseyNoise / #PardonState / #MedicalExtractionPark / #UrAssKickPark

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