Review – Quite The F-Ticket Ride (“Action Point”)

Based on some real parks in the Mid-West that resorted to crazy & often dangerous rides to draw customers in (there are YouTube videos to prove it), this film sees the return of Jackass star, Johnny Knoxville, doing what he does best… making a movie where he gets hurt doing a really, really stupid stunts. Well, play to your strengths, I always say!

Book-ending the movie (and acting as narrator) is Deshawn “D.C.” Carver (Knoxville– using his “Bad Grandpa” make-up), as he recounts his past wild ‘n’ woolly days as a theme park owner to his curious 10-year-old grand-daughter. We flash-back to 1979, where he tells the tale of Action Point, the most dangerous, hazardous, and totally out-of-control amusement park where teens could go for unbridled fun and possible loss of life. The theme here is simple: fun first, safety last, and D.C., a beer-swilling, shiftless, good ol’ boy, loves his park and the wacky assortment of weirdo’s that work for him there.

But just as D.C.’s estranged teenage daughter, Boogie (Eleanor Worthington Cox), comes to visit, the new 7 Parks theme park (think Six Flags) opens nearby and jeopardizes the future of Action Point. To save his beloved park, D.C. and his crew of loyal, loony misfits decide make the park even MORE dangerous and high-risk; in short, everything that 7 Parks isn’t. This includes a ‘petting zoo’ for the kiddies that is about as lethal as they come. Snobbish Mr. Knoblach (Dan Bakkedahl), owner of 7 Parks, tries everything to kick D.C. off his land, including a trumped-up lawsuit.

While all this is happening, there is a continuous cornucopia of kids and adults getting hurt left and right with stunts & pratfalls galore, plus animals doing heinous things to the human body. Gee, doesn’t that sound like fun? Oh, and there’s a forced subplot where Boogie and D.C. have a fight and she runs away. Yawn. Yes, you’ve seen this same plot before in Meatballs, Animal House, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Caddyshack, or anytime there’s a ‘slobs meet the snobs’ scenario. Only THIS time, alot of people are getting physically injured for your enjoyment and amusement.

Written by John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky (Blades of Glory, their only other screenplay), you can’t get a more clichéd riddled, unfunny, paint-by-the-numbers movie than this. All the characters are two-dimensional and obvious, the writing is sloppy and boring, the dialogue is strictly amateurish, and the acting ranges from silly to meh. This is strictly one of those ‘cash-grab’ films designed to make a quick-buck at the box office, go directly to cable in about three months, then sell for $5 at Walmart in their bargain bins by Christmas. Director Tim Kirkby, who does mostly TV shows (Brooklyn 9-9), just points the camera and shoots, without anything special. I’m guessing he knew what a dud this picture was, too.

The only redeeming factor in this sad, little ‘shoulda been a straight-to-video hot mess’ is Cox. The 17-year-old British theater kid, who is best known for her outstanding stage work in Mathilda–the Musical and her brief appearance in 2014’s Maleficent, does her best here, as she runs rings around the others with her presence, charm, and class. The others should take a look at Cox to see what acting is supposed to look like.

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)
The Beatles made A Hard Days Night, The Monkees did Head, and the rock band KISS made this abysmal abomination, trying to capitalize on their musical prowess and NOT their acting skills. With a cross-promotion of Six Flags Magic Mountain, this movie is SO bad, it has reached cult and mythical proportions

There’s sinister work going on in the bowels at Six Flags Magic Mountain! Bwahahahaha! Abner Devereaux (scenery chewing Anthony Zerbe), the park’s engineer and the creator of the park’s animatronic attractions, is not pleased that his works are being over-shadowed by an upcoming concert given by KISS. Y’see, Calvin Richards (Carmine Caridi), the park’s owner, explains to Abner that the concert will bring in much-needed money to fix Deveraux’s lousy/broken creations. Meanwhile, park guest Melissa (Deborah Ryan) becomes concerned when her boyfriend & park employee, Sam Farrell (Terry Lester), has disappeared.

But when Melissa goes to Devereaux’s laboratory, which was the last place Sam was seen, the weird engineer dismisses her, saying he’s not seen Sam. Bwahahaha! Little does she know that Sam has been placed under mind-control with an electronic device on his neck. Richards fires Devereaux for his erratic behavior and disregard for the guests’ safety and, because of this, Devereaux swears revenge upon Richards, the park, and KISS, whom he blames for his misfortune.

Shortly after KISS’ concert at the park, Devereaux attempts to discredit them by unleashing a robotic copy of Gene Simmons to wreak havoc on the park and the security guards. Melissa seeks help from the band to find Sam, unaware that the security pass she received from Devereaux has a tracking device. Devereaux has Sam break into the band’s lair (yes, they have a LAIR!) and steal their mighty talismans, but the plan is foiled! KISS sneaks into the park to confront Devereaux, but they lose their powers and are imprisoned after Sam manages to steal their talismans… again… and Devereaux neutralizes them with a ray gun. Bwahahahaha!

Devereaux then sends his robotic KISS minions to ruin their concert and incite a riot. BUT! The real KISS manages to regain their powers, turn into the superheroes that they really are, and defeat the imposters, thus saving the concert and the theme park! After the show, KISS, Melissa, and Richards confront Devereaux, but discover that he has frozen himself in a catatonic state. Paul Stanley removes the mind-control device from Sam, returning him back to normal. Richards laments Devereaux’s demise by saying, “He created KISS to destroy KISS… and he lost”.

Whoo-boy! What a stinker! With a hilariously awful script by Jan-Michael Sherman and Don Buday (both novice screenwriters) and directed by legendary 70’s/80’s fixture Gordon Hessler, this made-for-TV-movie was plagued with problems, most notably by the KISS members themselves. Ace Frehley hated the script, his character, and refused to even do many scenes. None of the band could act, so the script had to re-written daily, leaving the studio and others frustrated, but at least their music was real.

Naturally, this film has acquired a cult status since then, much like The Star Wars Holiday Special, where the actors involved would rather you just not mention that it ever existed. Yeah, it’s awful, alright, filled with low-budget SPFX, terrible acting, some of THE lamest dialogue you’ll ever hear, and a fight scene that is SO badly choreographed, that it’s hysterical! Check out Ace Frehley’s “Space Ace” superhero in the fight scene. Ace had left the set in disgust, so they got an African-American stunt double to take his place! And you can clearly see this! LOL!! 

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