Exciting news for my fellow Tri-State area thirty and forty somethings. Jackass and Bad Grandpa mastermind Johnny Knoxville is set to star and produce Action Park, an ’80s comedy based on the infamous New Jersey water park plagued with multiple customer injuries, lawsuits and even fatalities.
Though Action Park is only the working title of the film, it is the name of the actual park well known to Jersey area water slide adventure enthusiasts of the ’80s and early ’90s.
Per Deadline, the film imagines what happens when “Knoxville and his cohorts have irresponsibly designed and operate their own theme park,” which pretty much sums up the notorious legacy of the original Vernon Valley resort that shut down in 1996 (but has since re-opened following a major revamp as Mountain Creek Waterpark). With poor safety measures resulting in many on site mishaps, it became synonymous with names like Traction Park, Accident Park and Class Action Park.
While talking up his Evel Knievel biopic Being Evel to Deadline in 2015, Knoxville already had this ’80s comedy on his production wish list.
One I’m really excited about is called Action Park.
Bad Grandpa was like a narrative movie with pranks. This is a narrative movie with stunts, more of a narrative than Bad Grandpa, but you know all the stunts will be designed by me, and I’ll be doing them for real, and we have a script we’re really happy with. The goal is a big, fun ‘80s type comedy. It’s about this park in New Jersey, it actually existed. I don’t know if we’ll call it this, but there was this park called Action Park and it was like as if us, instead of doing Jackass, decided to open a theme park. It has that same spirit, like all the safety was left up to the people who walked in.
The design of the rides was built about as cleverly as we build things. I mean most of the kids were like early 20s or teens, and I suspect they were not sober a lot. The stories about Action Park are well documented. In our movie, we have this theme park where I’m the designer of the rides.
In 2013 we posted Dailymotion‘s excellent and eye opening two-part documentary The Most Insane Amusement Park Ever. After viewing it you will understand why this is the perfect project for Knoxville’s style of daredevil self-inflicting injury comedy. It’s also a legal miracle that Action Park existed and thrived as long as it did with such scant safety precautions.
With several trips to the Action Park during its heyday under my belt, as a survivor of the Alpine Slide, Surf Hill, Tarzan Swing, Cannonball Loop and the massive Tidal Wave Pool, it’s going to be interesting to see what Knoxville puts on the big screen.
He will produce the film through his Dickhouse Productions for Paramount Pictures and wrote the screenplay with John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. Tim Kirkby will direct.