Review: 'America: The Motion Picture' (2021) Dir. Matt Thompson
Arriving on Netflix for the 2021 US Independence Day weekend, this adult animation presents a whole new version of history that proves you don't know your Washingtons or Lincolns at all...
When the American Declaration of Independence is stolen by a traitor in the American high ranks of key political figures, George Washington (Tatum) finds himself tasked to find it at the request of Abraham Lincoln (Forte).
Washingston will be up against English King James (Pegg) who is out to claim the western territories for himself, and needs to assemble a team of heroes to help him battle the English, repel James and establish a new United States of America.
The team includes Thomas Edison (Wilde), Sam Adams (Mantzoukas), Geronimo (Trujillo) and Paul Revere (Moynihan) who must put their differences aside, focus their powers and abilities under Washington's leadership and save the land of the free...
From the opening minutes that show key American figures playing beer-pong while signing the Declaration of Independence, to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln buying "Best Buds" t-shirts in the Ford Theatre's John Wilkes Merch Booth, this is a very adult and very absurd slice of animation that chews up American history and spits it out again. From a host of producers, including Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, and sole writer Dave Callaham, director Matt Thompson syphons the crudeness and foul language of South Park, slick animation that looks like it belongs at Warner Bros. Animation and surreal comedy that feels like it would fit in well with Robot Chicken.
This is a very off-beat and patriotic view on the history of America's founding days and figures, but appears dreamt up by talent literally chugging beers and who knows what else, writing down a story as crass and crazy as you could imagine. You will know in the opening 10 minutes if this style of comedy is for you; something about it feels very in your face and very akin to the American market.
It's got swearing, gruesome violence, sex and as many random modern pop-culture nods including Eternal Flame, the "hashtag" emotion, The A-Team, The Avengers and even RoboCop. It's all in your face, and the comedy isn't very observational and the lowest form of crass humour and swearing to emphasise as many plot points as possible. There is history in this, somewhere, but it's lost under the nonsense but doesn't exactly claim to be anything BUT nonsense.
The English, led by slimy Simon Pegg's King James, are out to take over what we know as America. It falls to Channing Tatum's buff George Washington to avenge the death of Abraham Lincoln at the hands of lycan assassin Benedict Arnold, save the stole Declaration and pretty much form the United States for the good of all people.
A roster of American figures come together under George Washington, our pre-Marvel Tony Stark, who must assemble a team of American Avengers of his own to battle the English. That's the crux of this "motion picture."
It can't be said the animation isn't on point here; it looks like any top-tier Warner Animation production or even pre-Pixar Disney. A charming blend of 2D and 3D animation. But this is not for children. Our fruity versions of American key figures in history are like nothing we've seen before, and even take part in drag races on horseback to heavy rock music and shooting lightning from Thomas Edison's bracelets who is a female Chinese immigrant voiced by Olivia Munn.
Let's just say this is based on history, for about 2% and the other 98% is alternate universe fun and games, the sort you'd find on late night TV when probably high on some intoxicating substance wanting dumb entertainment with beer and pizza.
A very focused audience may find this amusing if a dumb, crass "comedy" is what they seek to celebrate Independence Day, but the novelty wears off after the first 15mins, testing your patience to survive a full 90.
'America: The Motion Picture' is a co-production between Lord Miller Productions, Free Association, Floyd County Productions and Litter Dog Productions