Johnny Knoxville is making a comeback. In cinemas this month, we’ll see the master of ludicrous bone-breaking stunts make a painful return to the big screen with his newest film, Action Point. We just checked out the trailer, and you know what? It looks pretty good.
In the same vein as the 2013 film, Bad Grandpa, starring Knoxville and Co. from the hit MTV reality show Jackass, Action Point has characters and a story, providing a context for the stunts the team perform. It’s a loose narrative, but it gives the audience a better reason to sit through an hour and bit of Knoxville and his mates putting themselves through the mincer.
When we were growing up, Knoxville’s face was everywhere. Young men looked up to his maniacal clown-like persona, disregarding the warnings flashed on the screen before and after each episode of Jackass. “The following show features stunts performed either by professionals or under the supervision of professionals… etc.”
The warnings did f*ck all, the revolution had already begun. Anyone with a camera (or now a phone) could be a star. Some unlucky teens broke bones and a few even died. For the most part, though, young skater punks were satisfied letting their mates roll them down a hill in a trolley. It was a slightly more extreme version of hopscotch compared to what Knoxville put himself through.
A bit over a year ago we interviewed Jeff Tremaine, the former editor of Big Brother magazine, where Knoxville got his first break. Knoxville’s pitch was to test various self-defence weapons on himself and then write it up. Tremaine thought they should film it as well, and that dumb idea went onto become the first Jackass TV show, where Tremaine would direct and Knoxville would be the star.
In the early days, Tremaine and particularly Knoxville had a DIY mentality when it came to stunts. During his interview with PENTHOUSE, Tremaine recounts how Knoxville requisitioned a beanbag shotgun like the ones they use for crowd control and somehow convinced a local stuntman to shoot him with it. Tremaine, the voice of reason (a relative term in this case), thought they should try out the gun first. It blew through a watermelon and two separate pieces of plywood and on top of that, it was wildly inaccurate. Knoxville was unperturbed and wanted to continue with the stunt anyway (they didn’t do it, much to Knoxville’s dismay).
“That tells you everything you need to know about Knox,” says Tremaine. “He’s just Evel Knievel-style. Evel would have the wrong gear and show up and see the crowd and know that if he commits to the jump over however many buses that he’s eating shit but, ‘Goddamnit! The crowd is here, let’s do this!’”
Through countless broken bones (and one broken penis), Knoxville’s provided us with hours of excruciatingly funny entertainment. If you’re a fan, you can see Action Point when it’s released this June 28. Knoxville himself said he went even harder than in Jackass. “I thought of the most painful stunts I could, and we made a film,” he told VICE in an interview back in March. It’s based on the true story of a New Jersey theme park that existed in a magical time before litigious parents and OH&S regulations. The kids were left to their own devices and naturally, as Knoxville put it, “People got wrecked.”
Yeah, it’s juvenile, but who cares? Every time Knoxville gets in front of a camera, something you’ve never seen before is about to happen. To give you a little taste – Knoxville recounted how when he got back on set after a gnarly concussion and blew his nose, his left eye popped out. If that doesn’t get you psyched, then nothing will.