Fantasia Film Festival: Class Action Park Review

Class Action Park

If you know the premise of Johnny Knoxville’s Action Point, then you’ll be surprised to find that the film based the amusement park on a real-life location. Seth Porges and Chris Charles Scott III’s Class Action Park follows the real-life story of the most dangerous amusement park in the world, Action Park. With Class Action Park, directors Porges and Scott III examine the neverending battle between rules and regulations and our universal desire for freedom and pleasure — even at the cost of your life. The result is an equally funny and disturbing documentary that highlights how an amusement park run by misspent youth and a man-child businessman could drive otherwise ordinary people to ridiculous ends.

Class Action Park is an intriguing watch that manages to engross the viewer despite the absurdity of some of the rides at the park. Not only are the ride descriptions morbidly fascinating and hilarious, but hearing people’s proud survival stories gives you the strange feeling that you missed out on something big. After all, who wouldn’t want to do whatever they want in an amusement park? It’s this inherent desire for pleasure that became a powerful motivator to go against your common sense. The fact of the matter is that each ride featured in the film is loonier and more dangerous than the next.

Unfortunately, Porges and Scott III spend most of the time showing you Action Park‘s rides than telling you a story. However, there is no doubt that the story of how the park stayed open for twenty plus years will have you enthusiastically watching the documentary from beginning to end. In a way, it is like a reality TV show. You know it’s ludicrous, but you can’t look away. This build-up gives way to several shocking and unbelievable moments. The film doesn’t just focus on the absurdity of the park, but it also highlights the corruption of its leader: Gene Mulvihill.

Class Action Park

Behind the ride designs and the park’s wild west aspect is Gene Mulvihill, a seeming inspiration for the villainous Mr. Swackhammer from Space Jam. He flaunts a colossal ego and bullies those who seek to close the park or sue him for money. After hearing about all of the dangerous and hilarious rides at the park, you will begin to sober up when you hear the story of a family who lost someone at the park. It’s a grim reminder that Action Park is not as fun as it may seem. Yes, their views on Mulvihill may be highly biased, but it also poses the idea that he is the de facto villain of this piece.

Because despite the Class Action Park’s villainous viewpoint of Mulvihill, the film also showcases the maverick man-child side of him. He is a man who wants to let people have fun with their terms and their rules. He had a desire to give people the time of their lives — by any means necessary. The film, at one point, says, “amusement parks embody the personality of their owners,” and Action Park is very much like Gene Mulvihill: Wild and crazy.

Ultimately, Class Action Park shows that in an amusement park where anything goes, there are no winners in this story. The people who used to visit the park often look back fondly at the park, but warn that they should’ve known better than to go there. At the same time, some will never get their son or daughter back because of the safety negligence at the park. This funny and disturbing documentary is a love letter to these people, and in a way, to Action Park. It’s also one of the most entertaining documentaries of the year.

Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

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