Few of us still believe the story about George Washington chopping down that cherry tree, but at least our founding myths aren’t as far-fetched as the one presented in “America: The Motion Picture,” an animated comedy in which our first president is a chainsaw-wielding freedom fighter who founds America to avenge the murder of his best friend, Abraham Lincoln.
Although this “Adult Swim”-style cartoon doesn’t seem to mind the impossibility of the timeline it presents. Anarchic energy is brought to the story of how many become one by director Matt Thompson and producers Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and “Archer” creator Adam Reed.
History is Already being Drastically Rewritten Within the First Few Chaotic Minutes:
“We the people” win a game of beer pong against “us rich white dudes” as the Declaration of Independence is signed, but then Benedict Arnold (Andy Samberg) arrives and blows up the Second Continental Congress, and then the traitor kills Lincoln (Will Forte) at Ford’s Theater.
Of course Arnold is a werewolf as well. Everything that happens afterwards is equally humorous, absurd, violent, and antiquated. Even if true patriots and historians might not enjoy “America,” I think it would be a hit with everyone who isn’t expecting too much.
Even with his chainsaws, George Washington (Channing Tatum) isn’t powerful enough to take on the “fun police” on the other side of the Atlantic. Among his fellow patriots are Jason Mantzoukas’s Samuel Adams, Bobby Moynihan’s Paul Revere, Raoul Max Trujillo’s Geronimo, and Olivia Munn’s Thomas Edison, who is portrayed as a Chinese woman.
Geronimo is the cynical straight man who has good reason to question his new partners’ pledges to return his people’s land once they beat the British together, whereas Adams is a beer-swilling frat guy, Revere is a horse-loving manchild, and Edison is as much wizard as scientist.
Even if it’s not really original, this (a)historical humour has managed to stick around for quite some time. While “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” may be the most well-known example of a president with supernatural skills, the similarly tongue-in-cheek “Drunk History” premiered on Funny or Die in 2007 and would still be airing on Comedy Central if not for the pandemic.
With Regards to Icebergs, the Titanic’s Demise is Shown in “America:
The Motion Picture,” albeit under different circumstances. Nothing sacred is spared in this smorgasbord of historical references, wars, and jokes that are always competing with one another for the most outlandishness.
The film is so slyly irreverent that even when you aren’t laughing out loud, you have to respect its bravado, even though this sort of humour isn’t always laugh-a-minute, and the novelty does begin to wear off around the time when a half-horse, half-RoboCop hybrid turns up (don’t ask).
Given the heated (if that’s the word) discussion currently taking place about how American history should be taught in classrooms, the fact that the filmmakers of “America” aren’t afraid to confront the country’s original sin by asking questions like “what about your slaves?” after Washington and company win is particularly encouraging.
While many have, over the years, decades, and centuries, attempted to rewrite American history, at least this video is forthright (and often quite funny) about the subject.