Nobody takes a big-screen beating like Johnny Knoxville, and this weekend, he’s suffering for his art all over again with Action Point, a high-impact comedy inspired by the real-life New Jersey amusement park whose rickety rides and low-rent aesthetic gave it the unfortunate nickname “Traction Park.” In honor of Knoxville’s latest (literally) gut-busting antics, we decided to round up some of the best and least-loved movie theme parks in Hollywood history in order to help you map out some stops on your summer cinematic travels. Fasten your seat belts and turn up the Lindsey Buckingham, because it’s time for Total Recall!

Walley World – National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) 93%

Southern California has no shortage of amusement parks, but there’s only one Walley World — and climbing on board trademark attractions like the Revolution and the Screaming Mimi can only be sweeter after you’ve schlepped halfway across the country in a state-of-the-art lemon of a station wagon, chasing a mysterious blonde and putting up with various pain-in-the-neck family members along the way. Be sure to pack heat just in case you need to strongarm your way in during the park’s off hours — and please keep your hands, feet, and Aunt Edna’s dog inside the car at all times.

Jurassic Park – Jurassic Park (1993) 92%

(Photo by Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

If you’ve got a rainforest vacation in mind — and can afford to fly the family out Costa Rica way — then there’s really only one vacation destination for the discerning film fan: Isla Nublar, where InGen CEO John Hammond decides to set up shop after figuring out how to bring dinosaurs back from extinction. Jurassic Park’s got it all: gorgeous views, guided tours, and a gift shop with all the official swag your kids will want after seeing real live prehistoric creatures up close and personal. Sure, the security systems have a way of failing at inopportune times, but what’s a vacation without a little life-threatening terror?

Pacific Playland – Zombieland (2009) 89%

(Photo by Glen Wilson/Columbia Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

For parents, the experience of spending a day at an amusement park can feel like trudging through a zombie wasteland. It sounds like a great idea going in, but after hours of moving slowly through lines, brains baked into mush from standing in the sun, and bellies bloated with concession stand churros, the experience takes on a ghastly pallor almost as frightening as the one suffered by Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) after they finally reach the allegedly zombie-free Pacific Playland in Los Angeles, only to find it utterly overrun by the undead. On the bright side, they do have Twinkies, and you just might get smooched by the love interest of your dreams.

Beijing World Park – The World (2004) 72%

(Photo by Zeitgeist Films courtesy Everett Collection)

For travelers who are interested in spending time in China while checking out smaller-scale versions of landmarks from other parts of the world, there’s only one choice: Beijing World Park, glimpsed in writer-director Jia Zhangke’s 2004 release The World. Just imagine: the Egyptian pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and more — all conveniently reduced in size and collected in one theme park. Best of all, unlike a lot of the destinations covered here, it’s actually real.

Northwest Adventure – Free Willy (1993) 71%

(Photo by Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)

Spending your vacation time in the Seattle area this summer? Be sure to take the family to Northwest Adventure, which not only boasts some of the more exciting ocean-based attractions in the area, but has incredibly clean grounds thanks to a local probation program that puts young vandals to work cleaning up their own handiwork. The park’s orca has a tendency to disappear at inopportune moments, but a growing number of guests don’t want to see those big guys held captive anyway — and if you look to the horizon at just the right moment as the sun is going down, you might see one of them jumping over the seawall.

Walt Disney World – Escape From Tomorrow (2013) 58%

(Photo by Producers Distribution Agency)

The Happiest Place on Earth? Maybe for the sugar-drunk kids running screaming from ride to ride, but for the moms and dads who actually have to pay the increasingly exorbitant cost of actually getting into Disneyworld — not to mention all the extra stuff you end up buying once you’re inside the park — it can feel like a harrowing descent into dystopian insanity. This isn’t to say 2013’s Escape from Tomorrow, which was filmed guerrilla style on the actual grounds by writer-director Randy Moore, is the ultimate Disney movie for disenchanted grown-ups — its depiction of one dad’s nightmarish visit doesn’t quite turn its creepy atmosphere into a consistently compelling story. On the other hand, watching it after taking your kids to the Magic Kingdom could prove as discomfitingly familiar as it is cathartic.

Magic Mountain – Rollercoaster (1977) 53%

While you’re in southern California visiting Walley World and Pacific Playland, go ahead and schedule a visit to Magic Mountain. Not only has it been a popular real-life recreation destination for decades, it’ll also give you an up close and personal look at the attractions used to fuel the action in the final act of 1977’s Rollercoaster, starring George Segal as a safety inspector in a race against time to stop a terrorist (Timothy Bottoms) whose bombing spree ends at the park’s brand new American Revolution ride. Enjoy your stay, but if you happen to spot a young Segal running like hell toward the Revolution, it might be time to cut your visit short.

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Moron Mountain – Space Jam (1996) 45%

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

If you’re traveling to space for your summer vacation this year, your amusement park options are unfortunately limited. But take a left a couple light years past Albuquerque, and you might just end up at Moron Mountain, the planet-wide attraction run by the unfortunately named Mr. Swackhammer in Space Jam. Faced with declining attendance, Swackhammer does pretty much what anyone would do: send a delegation of underlings to Earth so they can steal the basketball talents of the best pro players in the U.S., leaving Michael Jordan to team up with Bugs Bunny and his pals and take to the court to try and save them. And if your summer plans don’t include an intergalactic excursion, you can take a Jam-themed trip to the movie’s website, untouched since 1996. Why mess with perfection?

SeaWorld Orlando – Jaws III (1983) 11%

(Photo by Universal Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

As seen in Free Willy, Seattle’s Northwest Adventure park has a problem with killer whales escaping — but that’s nothing compared to the SeaWorld Orlando depicted in Jaws 3-D, which can’t seem to keep angry sharks out. Fortunately, the park’s payroll includes Kay and Michael Brody (Bess Armstrong and Dennis Quaid), who know a thing or two about great white management thanks to their late father, who vanquished a couple of the toothsome predators in the first two Jaws movies. That won’t make it any less terrifying if you happen to be in one of the fancy underwater tunnels when a ticked-off shark makes its move, but look at the bright side — it’s still better than watching Jaws: The Revenge.

Wonder World – Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) 9%

(Photo by Paramount Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

One of several cinematic amusement parks in the Los Angeles area, Wonder World promises fun in the sun in Beverly Hills — but as Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) discovers in Beverly Hills Cop III, all those thrill rides are really just a front for a counterfeiting ring being run under the nose of the owner (Mister Ed vet Alan Young). All that nefarious activity (not to mention the movie’s brutal Tomatometer) might be enough to scare you away from a visit to Wonder World, but you can presumably expect to have more fun at the park’s real-life counterpart, California’s Great America, located in the Bay Area city of Santa Clara, CA.

We skipped RT on DVD last week because there wasn’t much to talk about; unfortunately, this week is only marginally better, with an epic action flop, a bit of a clunker from Jason Reitman, and another found footage horror movie. After that, we’ve got a handful of smaller releases, some of which are actually worth checking out. Read on for details:

The Legend of Hercules


The first of two movies this year about the Greek demigod, The Legend of Hercules established a pretty low bar for Dwayne Johnson to overcome. Kellan Lutz stars as the titular hero, son of Zeus and the mortal Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee), who is betrayed by his stepfather, the King (Scott Adkins), and sold into slavery in Egypt. Presumed dead, Hercules secures himself a gladiator battle back in Greece, hoping to reunite with his lover (Gaia Weiss) and exact vengeance upon the King. Critics found very little to like here, calling the film a failure on almost every level, from its poor visuals and lackluster storytelling to its wooden acting and stale action sequences. Renny Harlin has directed his share of stinkers in the past, but at 3% on the Tomatometer, The Legend of Hercules is pretty bad, even by his standards.

Labor Day


Beginning with his 2005 directorial debut, Thank You For Smoking, Jason Reitman was on a pretty impressive hot streak, so it was something of a shock when Labor Day elicited little more than a half-hearted sigh from critics. Based on the eponymous novel by Joyce Maynard, Labor Day stars Kate Winslet as divorced single mother Adele Wheeler, who takes her teenage son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) shopping one Labor Day weekend and runs into a mysterious injured man named Frank (Josh Brolin). Adele allows Frank to come home with them, and though he soon reveals he’s an escaped convict, he succeeds in winning them over. Winslet and Brolin are quite capable actors, of course, and they make the most of the material, but most critics found the tone so earnestly melodramatic that it rendered the film’s more calculated moments largely powerless. At 33%, this isn’t just Jason Reitman’s lowest-rated film, it’s the only Rotten film he’s directed, period.

Devil’s Due


If you thought the found footage format had been pretty much exhausted by horror filmmakers, you thought wrong. In Devil’s Due, the latest of the genre, young couple Zach and Samantha McCall (Zach Gilford and Allison Miller) decide to document every step of their surprise pregnancy. Sam begins to behave erratically and Zach notices shadowy characters hanging around the house. Will things go full Rosemary’s Baby, or is it all just a harmless Candid Camera gag? Critics were quick to call out Devil’s Due on its derivative elements, taking care to note that the film draws from better predecessors but fails to do anything fresh with the ingredients. At 18% on the Tomatometer, it’s kind of a half-baked creepshow that relies on a mish-mash of familiar horror tropes.

Also available this week:

  • These Birds Walk (100%), a documentary about the fates of street children in Pakistan.
  • Certified Fresh Chilean importGloria (99%), about an aging divorcee whose budding relationship with a younger man prompts her to confront her past.
  • The Selfish Giant (97%), a Certified Fresh adaptation of the Oscar Wilde story about the relationship between two restless teenagers in northern England who steal and sell scrap metal.
  • Escape from Tomorrow (56%), about a recently unemployed man who descends into a surreal nightmare while vacationing in Disneyland with his family.
  • The Best Offer (55%), starring Geoffrey Rush and Jim Sturgess in a romantic drama about an introverted antiques dealer who comes out of his shell when he’s asked to restore the works belonging to an equally reclusive woman.
  • Gimme Shelter (22%), starring Vanessa Hudgens and James Earl Jones in a based-on-true-events story about a pregnant homeless teen who regains her footing with the support she finds at a shelter.
  • And lastly, from the Criterion Collection, Dino Risi’s 1962 road trip comedy Il sorpasso is available in a new DVD/Blu-ray combo.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a hostage situation (Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Keener), and a deadly mission (Machete Kills, starring Danny Trejo and Michelle Rodriguez). What do the critics have to say?

Captain Phillips


Director Paul Greengrass (United 93, Bloody Sunday) is an expert at adapting true stories to the big screen with a sense of you-are-there immediacy. Tom Hanks is great at portraying relatable people operating under extraordinary duress. Together, they make Captain Phillips a tense, endlessly involving thriller that entertains even as it raises intriguing questions. Hanks plays Phillips, the captain of a cargo ship that?s hijacked by Somali pirates; as the situation becomes more grim by the minute, it?s up to the captain to maintain composure and keep his crew safe. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Captain Phillips is potent, powerful stuff, with terrific performances and a script that gives multiple dimensions to all parties involved. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Hanks’ best-reviewed films.)

Machete Kills


There’s a thin line separating trashy fun and plain ol’ trash, and unfortunately, critics say Machete Kills is too often on the wrong side of the divide; despite its emphasis on gleefully over-the-top violence and campy laughs, the movie is too slackly paced and overlong to fully register as a guilty pleasure. This time out, the president enlists our blade-wielding hero (played by Danny Trejo) to stop a billionaire arms trader bent on inciting chaos across the globe. The pundits say Machete Kills is like its predecessor in many ways, just less so; it’s got some clever cameos and delightfully tasteless action, but there’s less energy on display this time out. (Take a look through our gallery of the ladies of the Machete movies.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

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