America the Motion Picture Review in Bros We Trust

In spite of its many drawbacks, the streaming revolution has made more content in formats that would not have been commercially viable a decade ago more widely available to the public.

There are many “limited series” that are actually just very long movies that have been sliced into episodes, and there are also longform music video/artfilm hybrids and featurettes, such as Almodóvar’s The Human Voice, that do not work in either the theatre or on television.

America the Motion Picture Review in Bros We Trust

America the Motion Picture Review in Bros We Trust

Then there’s America: The Motion Picture on Netflix, which clocks in at the length of a standard feature yet is less like a film than many half-hour stories. Matt Thompson’s animated short makes Drunk History appear like a Ken Burns production because it is a throw-everything-against-the-wall collection of goofy jokes that reimagines American history as a bro-tastic action thriller.

In its current form, it will undoubtedly please some consumers, but it would be more accessible as a series of very brief, easily forgotten episodes that randomly appear in one’s stream. It could have fit right in at the much-missed Quibi.

Actors Channing Tatum, Judy Greer, and Andy Samberg, all known for their comedic chops, also appear in the film. Producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who are responsible for the LEGO movie franchise, may feel that no idea is too stupid for them to transform into an entertaining movie. Yet, this is the stupidest concept ever.

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Tatum Voices George Washington,

Who is good friends with Abraham Lincoln before the American Revolution (Will Forte). Part of the movie’s storytelling concept is established here, with screenwriter Dave Callaham’s assertion that everyone mentioned in historical accounts actually existed at the same time and probably spent a lot of time playing beer pong together.

Abe is brutally murdered by Benedict Cosby Arnold, who turns out to be a traitor and a werewolf, while the buddies are at Ford’s Theatre watching the Red White and Blue Man Group. Despite the blood gushing from his neck, Lincoln manages to convince Washington to pledge to set the colonies free.

In a scene where JFK and both Roosevelt presidents attend Lincoln’s funeral, a throwaway bit sticks out for its pure goofiness among visual jokes that rely too much on movie references.

There are a few clever non-sequiturs here and there (why do George’s dreams of his dead friend take place in the Reservoir Dogs warehouse? ), but many of them are hammered home and keep coming even after the audience has stopped being surprised.

George, who the animators have given He-proportions Man’s and hair, sets out to gather a team of heroes to foil Arnold and the English king he serves. (It was King James, not George, who was depicted here with a superweapon reminiscent of the Death Star.) Samuel Adams (Jason Mantzoukas), a beer-loving frat boy, is at the forefront of this group.

He believes the British are targeting brewers in order to maintain their grip on the colonists’ tea market.

The gents set out to track down champion racer Paul Revere (Bobby Moynihan), who may have a problematic love with horses, and brilliant inventor Thomas Edison (Olivia Munn), who, to their surprise, is a young Chinese lady. They set off on an adventure with a few other nondescript historical personalities.

Thompson has been an Executive Producer on Archer for a Long Time,

America is an attempt to recreate some of the show’s signature recurring language patterns. George’s practise of humbly quoting “John 3:16” whenever he says something that might be recognisable to someone else is the finest.

Even though Archer is known for its wackiness, the show’s best episodes have a consistent comedic vision that this one lacks. If you’re wondering why the characters here have cassette players yet have never seen an automobile, you’ll never get a satisfactory answer.

The film predicts future misdeeds and pokes fun at the sins associated with America’s founding. Wordplay involving “racist” and “blacksmith” is to be expected, but nothing too offensive. You can only pack so much biting sarcasm into a novel that relies on the reader’s knowledge of history to the level of an F-student.

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Full credits

Production companies: Netflix Animation, Lord Miller Productions, Floyd County Productions, Free Association

Distributor: Netflix

Cast: Channing Tatum, Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, Bobby Moynihan, Judy Greer, Will Forte, Raoul Max Trujillo, Killer Mike, Simon Pegg, Andy Samberg

Director: Matt Thompson

Screenwriter: Dave Callaham

Producers: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Will Allegra, Channing Tatum, Peter Kiernan, Reid Carolin, Matt Thompson, Eric Sims, Dave Callaham

Editor: Christian Danley

Composer: Mark Mothersbaugh

1 hour 38 minutes