Class Action Park starts as a nostalgic look at a time that is a distant memory for so many people. The 80's seemed to be a time capsule of a simpler time where getting a few cuts and bruises wasn't a big deal. This brings us to the infamous theme park "Action Park" which was ran as a place where you controlled the action. Lets just say- it was a dangerous hazard that should have never existed but somehow it did for years and this documentary explores in fascinating detail just how the company wasn't able to get sued and its pretty fascinating.
If you've seen the Defunctland episode of Action Park (and if you are watching this documentary its safe to say you probably have watched it) you already know a lot of this movie. There is a lot of padding added to this documentary to make it long enough and the whole, "it was fun and things were different back then" idea gets repeated so much after a while I was wondering if they were playing back the same footage. I really wish they could have taken an even deeper dive into the deaths and the repercussions of the park because that's the unique stuff about the documentary.
The majority of this documentary is very fluffy, light and irreverent. It will make you go, "oh wow I can't believe that was real" several times and to the credit of the filmmakers they do explore stuff I didn't know about the park and I've done a lot of research into Action Park. The last thirty minutes of this film explores one of the most famous deaths in Action Park history where a young man ran into some rocks on one of the rides. They were actually able to interview the family of the the kid who died and you can see how haunted they are over thirty years later because of this traumatic event.
It suddenly becomes a much darker exploration of Action Park and the repercussions of true free market capitalism and if gone unchecked how greed can get in the way of actual human safety and empathy (yeah it's totally not relevant in 2020 AT ALL, ha ha). Yet, the film ends on a bittersweet note? Several people had formative years of their lives and heavy nostalgia for Action Park and the place never hid the fact it was just anti authoritarian and against the rules and people agreed to that. I don't think the film is making a case defending this place but it's showing the fact this place even existed in the first place shows just how much standards have changed in the past thirty years. Which, I would have to agree and disagree with.
A lot of people say that 2020 is a much scarier place than the 1980's. The 1980's was a time where you could run around and have fun. Not much has truly changed, we have just evolved to understand risks more as time has passed on throughout the 21st century. We are more cautious of people now and while I think that hinders some of the adventure and whimsy of the 80's- there's some good in wanting to help people as well. I don't see why that's a major negative. Then again, I was born in 1998 so I don't really know a world that wasn't in the 2000's. Maybe it was better? Or maybe in 2040 we will be talking about how the 2020's were this exciting time in American History and have warmth for it? We will tell our kids about the scary aspects of the decade, how we had the host of The Apprentice as our President for a while, we had a global pandemic and had to quarantine and people refused to wear masks and how we fought against police brutality. It's a hard time right now for so many- so I see why something like Action Park- which to several kids who are now grown seemed innocent and even radical to go to is very nostalgic. I don't believe this park should be celebrated but it is an interesting look at how sociology has evolved in the last few decades and it is a look on how we used to live in the real world more then we do now. The optimist in me thinks maybe when things start looking a little brighter- we will have our own weird stories to tell about the 2020's years from now as well. Lets just hope less people get hurt in those.