Class Action Park looks back at America’s most dangerous theme park with humor and horror

click to enlarge Class Action Park
Class Action Park

If you grew up in New Jersey in the '80s, the odds are good you visited the water attractions at Action Park in the resort town of Vernon. And if you did go to Action Park, odds are even higher that you walked away with some kind of injury. 

Class Action Park, named for one of the place's pejorative nicknames, documents the free-for-all of a Reagan-era waterworld that was essentially overseen by a staff of drunk teenagers. Director Seth Porges tells of Action Park's near-urban legend status, which grew not only from the apparent lawlessness of its operations but from the shady business dealings of owner Eugene Mulvihill. 

Through contemporary interviews with former park guests and staff, we learn there's a heated competition for Action Park's most dangerous attraction. Could it be the Tarzan Swing, where you plummeted off a cliff into freezing cold water below? Or the Alpine Slide, which sent you careening down a twisty mountainside track on rickety carts? Or was it the Cannonball Loop, a curlicue slide that seemed to defy physics?

What starts off as a real-life version of an '80s raunch-comedy administers, appropriately enough, a serious tonal whiplash in the back half. That also comes with some serious tone deafness: After a truly heartbreaking and infuriating montage about a lack of oversight that led to numerous deaths in Action Park, the film awkwardly returns to more stories of carefree hijinks, ending on a note of crude nostalgia.

Other than that, though, this is a fascinating and fittingly bruising flashback about a place that could never exist now. And that's probably for the best.

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About The Author

Nathan Weinbender

Nathan Weinbender is the Inlander's Music & Film editor. He is also a film critic for Spokane Public Radio, where he has co-hosted the weekly film review show Movies 101 since 2011.