Netflix: America: The Motion Picture

I’d like to kill myself.

Not since Farce Wars: Avengers of Justice have I spent this much time during a movie considering the benefits of taking the express checkout instead of having such a terrible movie hanging on my memory for the rest of my life. Unfortunately I took the steak knife upstairs before turning on Netflix.

I’m starting to think writer Dave Callaham might be a talentless hack fraud. His body of work boils down to fraudulent writing credits on The Expendables that were obtained via lawsuit, the 2004 Doom movie whose writing was awful, the iunferior Zombieland sequel Double Tap, the lesser Wonder Woman movie 1984, and Mortal Kombat whose writing was easily the worst part of the film. What’s worrying is this dude is cco-writing the screenplays for Shang Chi, Spiderman, and the Hercules movies. Hopefully Marvel’s executives and the co-writers can make up for Callaham holding them back.

A reminder of how easy it is to fail upward in Hollywood.

There’s nothing worse than a bad comedy, and I hesitate to call America: The Motion Picture a comedy. Comedy movies have jokes and humor, even if those jokes fall short. This feels like a modern day Seltzberg movie where the jokes aren’t so much a set up and a punchline but the kind of commentary someone makes while suffering an aneurism. America: The Motion Picture doesn’t tell jokes, it makes statements that contain references to things people recognize. Surface level parody that doesn’t understand the content it parodies.

 

America: The Motion Picture is the result of someone who gets drunk with their frat bros and thinks that they are hilarious because the bros laugh at their utterly moronic drunken drivel. Not only does the film suffer from undeserved confidence in its wit, it repeats many of its worst jokes over and over and over and over again. Characters proudly boasting how they came up with “fun police” to describe the British isn’t funny the first time. The fact that they do this to every character they meet makes me wonder how so many different eyes looked at this and cleared it for release.

The same goes with characters mistaking each other for other people, which isn’t funny when George Washington is mistaken as the peanut butter inventor, but almost every character gets a “oh no, you’re thinking of the other guy with an e in his name.” This film had ten producers and yet it feels like it had all the forethought of butt chugging a meth and vodka cocktail.

The film also tries to use ironic racism by just making racist comments, like when Geronimo gets most of his arm cut off and Washington says he only lost “like 3/5ths of it” before adding “thoughts and prayers.” It puts on a façade of progressiveness by making the white protagonists still racist assholes, but the thin veneer wipes off once you realize how the show is cast. For some reason they went with turning Thomas Edison into an Asian woman instead of picking an actual Asian historical figure.

They also use folk hero John Henry as the blacksmith for the simple fact that they tack on the surname smith and the joke is that he’s black, and he’s a smith. Get it? The movie is so woke that it can’t think of a single Asian or black person to put in the film that’s an actual historical figure. No Frederick Douglass? The villain is the vaguely gay-sounding Benedict Arnold who the film constantly berates as gay while trying to cover it with “but that’s totally okay dude.” He’s depicted as the kind of guy who goes into another man’s bedroom in the middle of the night to suck out his oil without his consent. Paul Revere is depicted as a mentally disabled child-man obsessed with horses.

I’m not expecting a movie called America: The Motion Picture to be historically accurate, but shoving so many references and what could barely be considered jokes in just goes to highlight the creative bankruptcy of the writers. There is a bar called Vietnam that the heroes screw up attacking and blame each other for messing up while simultaneously claiming victory. In another scene the team blows up the Titanic before agreeing that they’d just tell everyone it hit an iceberg.

It’s hard to swallow the idea that anyone on this crew gave half a shit about its quality, outside of perhaps the art which is the only thing that can really be called quality work.

Part of the humor involves characters referencing things that haven’t happened yet, either alluding to when they get invented or to set up an “I don’t know what that means” joke. Washington tells Benedict Arnold that  when Edison invents the internet, he’s going to edit Arnold’s Wikipedia page. Remember the movie Van Wilder where they get the frat to eat the eclairs stuffed with dog jizz? Comedy was so much more intelligent back then.

I fell into a lull until around the hour mark where there characters finally uncover the answer to where the British are having their big meeting in Gettysburg (which they constantly refer to as the Gettysburg Address), only for the answer to be worse than I could imagine. Washington replaces the A in America with a 1, revealing that the clue is the meeting taking place at 1 Merica St. They go to Gettysburg only to realize there’s only one building in the whole town.

I’ve lost count of how many times I paused the movie and had to take a walk. And then a version of the crazy frog song started. So I paused it again. America: The Motion Picture reminds me of Eight Crazy Nights, where the quality of animation far exceeded everything else in the film. As far as content goes, it has all the humor of Saddam Hussein getting dragged out of his hole in the ground.

America: The Motion Picture is a sad reminder that the golden era of parody that existed during the height of Mel Brooks and Leslie Nielson’s careers are dead, making way for creatively bankrupt frauds. It’s also another notch in my running conspiracy that these animated movies are big money laundering schemes between directors and voice actors.

It makes me pine for movies like FDR: American Badass which did the president fighting werewolves first, and a much better job of it. Callaham isn’t fit to suck Ross Patterson’s toes.

Waiter, I’ll have that shot of cyanide now.

Rating: F

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