Review: America: The Motion Picture Is A Crass Reimagining Of U.S. History; Funny For Some, Tasteless For Others
Crude adult comedy is not always my jam, but I appreciate a well-written and executed expletive-laden romp. Especially if it’s animated, a la Family Guy or Archer. But even more especially if it’s an outrageously satirical look at history, commenting on the growth of a nation, or lack thereof. But when you combine that with a disregard for any sort of continuity, era-appropriate story, or general respect for actual historical figures, you get America: The Motion Picture. So check out my spoiler-filled America: The Motion Picture review to get an idea of what you’re in for, if you do run the risk of adding this one to your Netflix queue.
America The Motion Picture Is All Kinds Of Crass And Gross. And Intentionally So.
Where do I buy these shirts, Netflix?! | Image via Netflix.
The animated movie opens with a massacre at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The historical betrayal of Benedict Arnold (Andy Samberg) is amplified in this opening scene, as the Red Coats brutally murder, basically, every one of America’s Founding Fathers. The only ones missing from the scene are best friends George Washington (Channing Tatum) and Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte), while they take in a show. In a theatre. Oh yeah, the movie is totally going to go there, and it’s weird. Actually, it’s all a little weird.
After the gory and blood-soaked death of Lincoln by Arnold, who is now revealed to be a werewolf (I don’t know why), Washington is on the warpath. Although, he soon realizes that he’s in over his head. So the previously directionless rogue, finds purpose in life, by avenging his friend and carrying out his lifelong ambition of a united America. But he needs help to lead this revolution against the British. That’s really what the movie is. It’s a by-the-numbers team-up movie that sees Washington recruit some of history’s greatest figures to kick British butt. And all in a very crass and vulgar way, while shotgunning newly invented beers and being racist.
This America: The Motion Picture Review Has Some Spoilers
Talk about Pony rides. | Image via Netflix.
It’s hard to review America: The Motion Picture without getting into spoilers. Although, it’s less about what happens and the story, but more about how it happens. And also, kind of, the why. But it’s difficult to find purpose in the story. It’s meant to be a very un-subtle comedy featuring reimagined versions of America’s greatest heroes, crammed together in surprising and unexpected ways. But attempting to find purpose in America: The Motion Picture is probably pointless. Especially as it’s not really meant to be, substantive.
From the creators of Archer and produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, America: The Motion Picture is just plain silly fun. It’s an outrageous story that sometimes gets too self-indulgent and too referential, but when the jokes land, it’s pretty fun! And that’s in no small part to the pretty awesome voice cast.
The Voice Cast Is As Crazy As The Movie
Join the team Mr. Smith! | Image via Netflix.
Leading this star cast of would-be revolutionaries is Tatum himself. Reuniting with his 21 Jump Street directors, Tatum is pretty off the wall here. He plays Washington as an insecure, selfish party boy. It’s the rascal with a heart of gold who has to rise to the challenge, kind of trope we’ve seen many times before. Joining him is frat-boy Samuel Adams, played by Jason Mantzoukas. The chemistry between them is is pretty palpable and hilarious. Things get weird as a female Thomas Edison (Olivia Munn) joins the group. Along with a Native American in the iconic Geronimo (Raoul Max Trujillo), and a Black blacksmith named Blacksmith (Killer Mike). I really, can’t even. Given the era these characters are from, the bits with women’s rights, diversity, and racism are pretty risky, but they also kind of work. Sometimes. Among other things.
What Works And What Doesn’t In This Animated Adult Fare
No one wins in ‘Nam! | Image via Netflix.
Now, a word of warning, America: The Motion Picture brutally kills off historical figures with blood and gore. There are insane amounts of inappropriate jokes at the expense of women, minorities, and other underrepresented communities. While the majority of these jokes revolve around the fact that the underrepresentation of these communities was the norm in that period, it’s still a little jarring. And might be triggering to some. But it’s very much Seth MacFarlane’s type of comedy, so if you’re into that, you’ll be into this. It’s absolutely done for shock and awe and totally intentional.
The stuff that works in America The Motion Picture, is when the movie makes fun of America itself, and the current state of one of the greatest nations in the world. The political satire and jabs at what the country has done with its hard-fought freedom is really what makes the movie shine. But it’s almost always undercut with the more gratuitous elements. All in all, the new animated movie is very much a quick and fun watch, best enjoyed without analyzing it too hard, at the risk of clutching one’s pearls in despair. And if adult-themed vulgar comedy is not something you’re into, you’re probably better of skipping this altogether.
America: The Motion Picture is now streaming on Netflix.
What did you think about the new satirical adult animated comedy? Let me know in the comments below.
Featured image via Netflix.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.